Art review | Pitt Rivers Museum and Preserving what is valued exhibition by INK (Ingchanok Sinudom)

Oxford is an ancient town in the UK which is surrounded by different heritage buildings, marvelous churches and the incredible museums. I had an opportunity to visit three museums with PSEAD peers which were Pitt Rivers Museum, Modern Art Oxford and Ashmolean Museum. Pitt Rivers is my favourite museum among three museums because I was impressed by plenty collections around the world, especially, the variety collections from the antiquity.

Pitt Rivers Museum is the museum that exhibits the archaeological and anthropological collections. Before I entered the musuem, I could not find the entrance because the museum’s gate is quite small and inconspicuous, which looks like the gate from Narnia movie (Tomek, 2015). When I walked through the gate, I was amazed by the atmosphere as well as the numerous collections which were arranged in the glass cabinet. The atmosphere made me feel like I went back to the past whether it be the dim light or the arrangement of artworks in the cabinet that there are many objects in there (see fig. 1). Moreover, there is a massive totem pole at the opposite of the entrance. This museum is to educate people to learn about historical and civilisation such as perception, solution and inspiration of ancient people that makes people realize the crucial of history.

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Fig. 1. Atmosphere of Pitt Rivers Museum

“Preserving what is valued” is the exhibition about the broken handcraft that has been repaired by their original owners by using different ways to fix it. For example, the split canoe has been repaired by drilling hole on either side of the break and lashing the pieces together with plant fiber (see fig. 2). Furthermore, there was the gourd vessel with a long vertical crack in the neck has been repaired with metal staples (see fig. 3). Besides repairing, some works have been fixed by unique decoration such as the ground bowl object (see fig. 4). A split in the rim has been repaired with plant fiber decorated by vivid glass beads which was threaded into the plant fiber.

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Fig. 2. Canoe prow ornament (2015)

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      Fig. 3. Gourd (2015)

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Fig. 4. Ground bowl (2015)

Before this exhibition, the conservators had many questions about these works, which they expect the audiences to explore the answer in the exhibition. For example, ”Why was this object repaired by its original owners rather than replaces? Were the materials it is made from scarce or expensive?” (Heather, 2015). When I visited this exhibition, I saw the diversified way that the original owners fixed whether it could reuse or not. Indeed, I was interested some works that could not use anymore, although the original owner was elaborately repaired it. Because I think these works were really important for them and they chose to repair it rather than discard it. Moreover, I think the owner realized the worth in an object, although an object were broken, the value was not lower as the pieces of fragment, in contrast, the value was higher by their hands and determination to fix. “

In addition, there were the broken ceramics that had been fixed by using lacquer mixed with gold in the fissure, which was called Kintsugi method (see fig. 5). Kintsugi method is the Japanese art of fixing broken pottery by using lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. Besides, it can notice the elaborate mending in the tiny crack as if this golden line was the part of decoration. As a philosophy it treats wreckage and repair as the part of history of an object, rather than replace, which was the same principle of Wabi-Sabi philosophy. Wabi-Sabi is the representation of a comprehensive Japanese perspective of aesthetic which were described the beauty is imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.

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Fig. 5. Dipping cup and Drinking cup (2015)

Kintsugi technique is not only the way to mend the broken pieces but also makes the broken and mended piece becomes more beautiful and valuable than before (Sequins and Cherry Blossom, 2014). Moreover, It enhances a ceramic that it is not just the ware but it is a valuable art piece. “ The importance in Kintsugi is not a physical appearance, it is more likely the beauty and importance states in the wonderful is looking at the dish not a dishes on shelves” (Shimode, 2014).

From my experience, I often broke my ceramic works whether it be during on making process or moving, I fixed it by using a glue to disguise the breakage, or throw the broken piece away and make a new same piece. Whereas, after I had visited this exhibition, I realized that there are a beauty and value in a defective piece or even a breakage according to the Wabi-Sabi theory, “Wabi-Sabi nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect” (Richard, 2004). Personally, I think this exhibition not only acknowledged the method of repairing an artwork, but also made me realize the new perspective to view the beauty and more value the broken art piece. Moreover, it reminds me that “the goal is not to hide the scars or pretend that the broken places never existed. The goal is to find healing for those broken places in such a way that my healed wounds become a gift to the world around me” (Kenetha, J 2013).

Finally, I knew the way to lose myself in this exhibition that I will more value the broken objects not only ceramics and art works but also another objects. Some objects are able to enhance that becomes as a beautiful art piece. Moreover, I will fix my broken work with aesthetic and more creative.

List of Illustrations

Figure 1. Atmosphere of Pitt Rivers Museum. [Photograph; The surrounding Atmosphere at Pitt Rivers Museum]. At: http://www.prm.ox.ac. uk/ (Accessed on 20.07.15)

Figure 2. Sinudom,Ingchanok (2015). Canoe prow ornament [Photograph]. In possession of: The author: Oxford

Figure 3. Sinudom,Ingchanok (2015). Gourd [Photograph]. In possession of: The author: Oxford

Figure 4. Sinudom,Ingchanok (2015). Gourd bowl [Photograph]. In

possession  of: The author: Oxford

Figure 5. Sinudom,Ingchanok (2015). Dipping cup and Drinking cup [Photograph]. In possession of: The author: Oxford

 

Bibliography

John, Tomek (2015). [Conversation about the description of Pitt Rivers entrance on 6 July 2015]

Muneaki, Shimode (2014). [Film clip online] Pres. Shimode (2014) 3.19 (01:31-01:46) mins. At: http://www.thisiscolossal.com/2014/05/kintsugi-the-art-of-broken-pieces/ (Accessed on 20.07.15)

Powell, Richard R. (2004). Wabi Sabi Simple. At: https://books.google.co.th /books?id=j5uc5FBdqHoC&printsec=frontcover&hl=th#v=onepage&q=nothing%20lasts&f=false. (Accessed on 15.07.15)

Richardson, Heather (2015). Temporary Exhibition: ‘Preserving What is Valued’. At: http://pittrivers-object.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/temporary-exhibi tion-preserving-what-is.html (Accessed on 15.07.15)

Sequins and Cherry blossom (2014). Kintsugi lacquer repair – when broken is better than new [online blog]. At: http://sequinsandcherryblossom.com /2014/01/26/kintsugi-lacquer-repair/. (Accessed on 15.07.15)

Stanton, Kenetha J. (2013). Creating a Kintsugi-style life and faith. In: luhambo.wordpress.com At: https://luhambo.wordpress.com/2013/09/11/ creating-a-kintsugi-style-life-and-faith/. (Accessed on 15.07.15)

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