This new project is being carried out with the Ashmolean Museum and OVADA Gallery, both in Oxford.
The brief, originally entitled “Crossing Cultures, Crossing Times”, is to make work reacting to artefacts in the Ashmolean collection. A jury composed of two representatives from each gallery will pick works to be displayed at OVADA.
As a regular visitor to the Ashmolean, I was excited by this brief. The only problem was what to pick to react to! The museum has an incredible and diverse collection.
My first idea was to take this eclecticism and reflect it in the work. I started drawing from heads from the most diverse possible source material to create a kind of mini-museum in the form of a series of drawings. This was the result:
I went off this idea for several reasons. The time taken on each drawing would have to be much greater than these initial sketches, meaning greater individual works but less diversity, because the number of heads would have to be reduced. I also felt it would be good to do a project moving away from drawing, something I have already been doing extensively.
My search around the museum began again. I hit upon a small temporary room of works by one of my favourite artists, Utagawa Hiroshige, the 19th century Japanese ukiyo-e printmaker. I decided there and then that the project should be based around him.