Sawdust & Threads was a residency, exhibition and public programme that took de-accessioned museum objects as its material. The project was conceived by artist Caroline Wright and Norwich Castle curator Harriet Loffler in partnership with the Scott Polar Museum in Cambridge and UCL Museums & Collections in London. At each of the partner venues, a short residency enabled drawings to be made of deaccessioned objects, after which they were carefully and painstakingly deconstructed. The undoing was displayed in the gallery space of the gallery to allow the public to watch the artistic process unfold and to see the objects returned to their component parts. The drawings were exhibited alongside the performative acts of deconstruction. Each drawing was accessioned into the partner museum collections as a lasting record of their objects.
The project hopes to pose questions around the nature of museum collections. Who owns these objects and how is the value of an object defined? Is value being removed or re-ascribed during this process of deconstruction? And where is the art? Is it in the drawings or in the action of undoing?
Every object that has been selected for this project has been de-accessioned by the partner museums. This means that they have been through a rigorous process of responsible disposal in line with the Museums Association's Code of Ethics, and every effort has been made to find new homes for them before they were approved for this project.
A publication to accompany the project, Sawdust and Threads: drawing, deconstruction and the object
, with essays by Haidy Geismar, Rebecca Heald, Tania Kovats and writing by Caroline Wright is available from Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery shop, and can be seen here.
Sawdust and Threads
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Signal Wicker Ball, 2014
Sawdust and Threads: deconstructed clay planter, 2015
Sawdust and Threads: Lace, pencil on paper, 2016
Oxygen Pump, pencil and watercolour on paper, 2015
Labels, pencil on paper, 2015
Florists Wire, pencil and pen on paper, 2015