Presenting 18th-century English drinking glasses

Recently, as research curator at Leamington Spa Art Gallery & Museum, I gave a ‘Friday Focus’ talk about the new display of 18th-century English drinking glasses that I have curated. This talk looked at the collector of the glasses, including an aspect of his life in Leamington, and then considered the different types of glasses that were created throughout the 18th century – and the various techniques used to decorate them. Lastly, I looked at why I chose to display the collection as I did:

Background to the collection and collector

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‘The Collector’ by Henry Holland, 1918, LSAG&M

This display highlights a selection of Leamington Spa Art Gallery & Museum’s collection of 160 English drinking glasses from the 18th century. They were purchased from the collector Francis Jahn in 1955 with the help of the National Art Collections Fund and the V&A Purchase Fund.

Jahn, who was born in 1871 and died in 1967, was a collector of oriental art, ceramics and 18th-century glasses. He followed his German father, Louis Jahn, a curator at the Hanley Museum, who built up a vast private collection of 18th-century Staffordshire pottery during his lifetime, which he left to his son. Many of the finest items were later bequeathed by Francis Jahn himself to Leamington Spa Art Gallery & Museum.  Continue reading

Jacqueline Donachie: Weight, Susan’s Eyes and Winter Trees 2008

Friday Focus leafletThis is an article I wrote after giving a talk about the artist and her work at one of the Leamington Spa Gallery’s ‘Friday Focus’ talks

Donachie’s work “Weight, Susan’s Eyes and Winter Trees 2008” is a recent acquisition of The Leamington Art Gallery and is an important and thought-provoking piece to have in their collection. It stands out in the gallery because it is so different to the other pieces on display: it is an installation, and is modern and minimalist in its use of media, techniques and presentation. It helps to raise and expand important debates such as the interaction between science and art, the relationship between the art object and the viewer, and ideas about the politics of representation and interpretation.

This work is also captivating because of the refreshing and unusual way it focuses on the genetic disorder Muscular Dystrophy – which the artist’s sister has. Muscular Dystrophy is a muscle wasting condition of which there are many types – and each affects different muscles. Most conditions are progressive, causing the muscles to weaken over time. Some form of this disease affects more than 70,000 people in the UK. There is no cure for any of the different types, though there are various treatments that can help and gene therapy may be developed in the future.  Continue reading