Awakened by Frink Project

November 19, 2023

Awakened by Frink is a community-curated exhibition of artwork by members of the Dorset Deaf Activities Group created during a series of workshops at Dorset Museum & Art Gallery.

The project ran over three months in 2023, enabling Dorset Museum & Art Gallery to broaden the audiences that engage with the collections and encourage a deeper understanding of the  Elisabeth Frink collection.

The Museum acquired the collection in 2020 from the Elisabeth Frink Estate and includes 31 bronze sculptures, a number of working plasters, prints and drawings and working tools. The collection holds endless potential for different types of engagement – exploring the themes and interests of the artist, exploring their work practices and techniques, and experiencing the artworks through touch.

During the project, we gave participants an opportunity to become involved in the development of the exhibition, acquire new artistic skills, and develop an understanding of how the Elisabeth Frink collection can be used as a resource to promote learning and well-being.

Caryn Mitchell, Dorset Deaf Activities Group (DDAG) who participated in the project at Dorset Museum & Art Gallery said:

“The DDAG in its infancy consisted of two profoundly Deaf individuals, living at opposite ends of the County. Both were keen to take part in some form of art type activity. Both had enthusiasm, motivation, talent and skills but no opportunity to develop and showcase them.

In time it became evident that these individuals were not the only Deaf individuals looking for this type of activity, hence the group grew to 12 members (our maximum currently). All individuals are prelingually Deaf and use British Sign Language to communicate. Our maximum number of 12 is in place as we would be unable to provide communication support for more than this.

The communication barrier is non-existent within our group as we are supported by the Sight & Hearing Team in Dorset, an interpreter for the Deaf and have access to highly skilled signing support workers.

All members join with their own personal set of interests, skills and experience.

The motivation to join is not always because they share the same interests, it’s because it’s an opportunity where they can spend time together and grow together. A group that truly understands each other, without fear of judgement.

They just all naturally ‘fit’. The challenge is no longer the communication barrier but the activity, just as it is for anyone.

We level the playing field.

Each group activity undertaken at Dorset Museum & Art Gallery allows every individual to engage in something new. The Museum offer new experiences every week. Every challenge is met with enthusiasm, and self-confidence grows, along with their skill set.

The Awakened by Frink exhibition includes a large collaborative drawing inspired by Elisabeth Frink’s garden at Woolland as well as handmade and bound sketchbooks full of playful responses. Photographic images on display capture the group’s support for each other during the project.

Sculpture work with wire and plaster by the Dorset Deaf Activities Group can also be seen in the ‘Elisabeth Frink: A View from Within’ exhibition in the Special Exhibitions gallery.

We are grateful to everyone involved in this project.  Awakened by Frink was generously supported by Dorset Council and Arts Council England NPO scheme through the Wessex Museums Partnership.”

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Wessex Museums

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