Alchemy: Artefacts Reimagined
Wessex Museums invited artist Ann-Marie James to explore the collections of our four partner museums, then choose an object from each to inspire a series of new artworks.
The result is Alchemy, an exhibition that uncovers new meanings in our collections – and creatively illuminates the significance of Wessex.
Themes and techniques
Ann-Marie James spent a year ‘reimagining’ these artefacts to create the new artworks. All the pieces are in gold and/or white – gold from the Bush Barrow Lozenge and the tale of Bacchus and Midas, white from the chalk that the Amesbury Archer was found in, and the white of the Roman mosaic.
Her techniques included drawing, painting, printmaking, and gilding with 24ct gold. For ‘Bacchus’, she shaved a Roman mosaic design into a cream rug.
We hope Alchemy inspires you to look at our collections differently and to reimagine the connections between our past and present.
Daily: 9.00am - 4.30pm
Sunday: 10.00am - 4.00pm
Pre-booking essential for all visits.
Dorset MuseumHigh West Street
Dorchester DT1 1XA
The Wessex Museums Partnership invited Ann-Marie James to explore Dorset Museum’s collections and those of our three partner museums (Poole Museum, Salisbury Museum and Wiltshire Museum) and choose an object from each to inspire a series of artworks.
Location: Special ExhibitionsMuseum Map
This exhibition is included as a part of your entrance timed ticket.
Ann-Marie James’ inspiration for the Chieftain series of artworks was the Bush Barrow lozenge at Wiltshire Museum.
This lozenge is the finest example of Bronze Age gold craftsmanship ever found. Made from sheet gold, only one millimetre thick, it is incised with intricate patterns, suggesting that whoever made it had a sophisticated knowledge of geometry.
The enigmatic face on this medallion is probably Bacchus, the Roman god of wine and revelry. The medallion is thought to have hung from an expensive Roman wine glass.
The medallion was found during the excavation of a Roman settlement to the north of Poole.
Ann-Marie James’ inspiration for Archer came from arrowheads found in the 4,000-year-old grave of the ‘Amesbury Archer’. The barbed arrowheads demonstrate flint-working at its best, but the design is brutal – the barbs ensured that the arrowhead would not fall out, so the prey animal would bleed to death.
These flints were part of a large hoard of ceremonial objects in the grave.
Ann-Marie James’ inspiration for Bacchus came from the Roman mosaic pavement at Dorset Museum. Imagery on the mosaic includes a cantharus (a two handled drinking vessel) which has led some experts to believe the mosaic is linked with Bacchus, the Roman god of wine and revelry.
Laid on the floor of the Victorian Hall at the museum, it became one of the only places in the world where people could walk on Roman mosaics.
28 May – 5 September 2021
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