New Exhibition: The Past Made Present at Dorset County Museum

Great British Summer by Louise Roll © 2012

Great British Summer by Louise Roll © 2012

Encounters: Wessex Contemporary Artists meet Dorset County Museum.  At last, an exhibition of contemporary art that can be accessed and enjoyed by all. 

Works by a total of 24 artists are displayed in the exhibition which opened this Saturday at Dorset County Museum.  At the exhibition preview over 200 people enjoyed exploring the new works of art, many displayed alongside artefacts from the Museum’s unique collections.  Jo Saurin, one of the artists and a curator of the exhibition said, “This is not an exhibition designed to intimidate the visitor but to encourage them, through encounters with fragments of the past, to unearth buried memories and make them contemporary. Encounters focuses on shared ancestry, poignant memory and loved landscape and there are links throughout with objects and ideas held by the Museum.”

Jon Murden, director of Dorset County Museum said, “This is one of the most challenging exhibitions we have worked on for some time, but also one of the most fascinating.  For me, the mixture of brand new works of art displayed alongside the iconic artefacts which inspired them is particularly interesting.”

The artists, all from Wessex Contemporary Arts, will be there personally on three mornings to talk about their work – come along between 10.30am and 12.00pm on 21st February, 4th and 11th April to meet them, hear about their work and find out what inspired them.  Some of the artists are also running workshops to encourage tactile engagement with processes and concepts that are at the heart of Contemporary art.  Obfuscation is not part of this exhibition.  Pleasure, recognition and personal involvement is.

The Museum’s archaeology collection has been the focus of the largest number of artists with the Dorset landscape, the coast and Maiden Castle close behind.  Poetry, library books, farming, mourning jewellery and fresco painting have also inspired other parts of the show.  Another strong category explored by some artists is enquiring into the whole concept of the Museum itself.  Visitors will see how this examination of these collections has led to the creation of many original works of art from richly coloured paintings inspired by ancient pottery to delicate bowls beautifully crafted from leaf skeletons, fish scales and other natural objects.

Encounters: Wessex Contemporary Artists meet Dorset County Museum runs until 7th June 2013 and entry to the exhibition is free.  For further information pick up an exhibition leaflet at the Museum shop or visit the website on

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