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An overview of the ‘virtual’ Looking at Things exhibition

A virtual exhibition at Hastings Museum and Art Gallery

On Saturday 23 January, Hastings Museum ‘virtually’ opens its doors to a new exhibition called Looking at Things. HOT’s Erica Smith tells us how she entered the world of 3-D design.

Looking at Things is an investigation into what is ignited when we see something that excites us – the “Wow I LOVE that!” response – the moment your eyes alight on an object that compels, all other thoughts can melt away.

I was asked to design an exhibition about this by ExploreTheArch theatre company working with Esme Fisher – one of the young people on the ExploreTheArch mentoring programme. We worked alongside Eleanor Lanyon and Philip Hadland at Hastings Museum and Art Gallery.

The exploration of looking at objects was led by artists from Hastings & Bexhill MenCap’s Active Arts group. Our investigation started with a selection of twenty objects from Teddy Tinker’s Emporium. The Active Arts students were asked to choose an item from the selection to look at and draw and make models from. Six out of the 20 objects were very popular, and our exhibition features these and some of the artworks that they inspired.

Artist Marcus was attracted to this small golden cat. He particularly loved the shiny metal surface and produced a series of large cut-out cats which he covered with collaged pieces of paper coated in luxuriously thick metallic paint.

The exhibition was planned for the walkway gallery on the first floor of Hastings Museum and Art Gallery. In early January, when we realised that the museum would not re-open because of lockdown, our hearts sank. Philip Hadland suggested that we try developing the exhibition using virtual reality software. It has been absorbing to learn a new skill and adapt what was going to be a very small, intimate exhibition into a totally different medium. It has been a challenge, but we are delighted with the result.”

Ann Bloomfield, the Active Arts coordinator, said, “I really love the virtual reality tour of the exhibition – I particularly like how everything is hidden until you turn the corner – there is a sense of wonder and joy on each turn. I fell in love with everyone’s favourite object.”

Lockdown 2 began during the Active Arts exploration into objects. We opened up the invitation to anyone in lockdown to share a photograph of themself with an item that they cherish using a #LockdownLookingAtThings hashtag. You can see this in an online gallery, and some of these objects are also represented in Looking at Things.

Looking at Things will open on Saturday 23 January with an online private view at 6pm. To attend the Private View, go to the ExploreTheArch website. You will be able to visit the exhibition via the ExploreTheArch and Hastings Museum websites.

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Posted 21:33 Wednesday, Jan 20, 2021 In: Arts News

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