Dunollie collections inspire new artworks and projects
ONE of the most fascinating things about Dunollie Museum, Castle and Grounds is how the ancient collections are inspiring new, innovative projects today.
Jacobean bed hangings were the inspiration behind a series of new embroidery workshops for the community, Oban High School students have been uncovering local tales in the archives to inspire creative projects and Victorian recipes are now on the Kettle Garden Cafe’s menu.
Artist Alice Strange has created a number of recognisable art installations throughout Oban, including The Catch which featured as part of Oban’s Festival of the Sea and saw 900 textile fish hung along Oban Esplanade in 2015.
On a visit to Dunollie’s 1745 house museum, Alice’s attention was drawn to Hope MacDougall’s large wooden spoon collection. She said: ‘I was particularly interested in how the humble wooden spoon became a signifier for Hope’s thoughts or memories, simply by things being pinned on a map at its point of origin.’
Ms MacDougall was the aunt to the current clan chief, and started her collection in the 1950s. She amassed thousands of items before her death in 1998. Her keen interest was the ordinary working and domestic lives of the people of Scotland.
The collection spans a wide range of traditional crafts, skills and professions, including agricultural practices, early distilling, shoe makers, travelling camps and many more. Each of the items is backed up with clear documentation of its origin, its owners and often Miss Hope’s own research.
After a visit to the 1745 house, the concept of a unique art installation at Dunollie soon began to take shape for Alice, who headed to the studio to create a series of 68 spoons, each containing its own individual Tyvek label. ‘The attached labels contain phrases, numbers, symbols and equations which have significance for me, so it could be interpreted as a self-portrait,’ she explained.
Alice installed her creative work titled The Answer is Blowing
in the Wind (referring to the series of philosophical questions posed by Bob Dylan in his famous song) in the Faerie Garden at Dunollie Museum, Castle and Grounds at the beginning of May, and the exhibition will be on display for visitors all season.
Alice hopes the community as well as visitors to Dunollie will go on to add to the colourful display.
She said: ‘I hope the installation will develop into a wider community portrait as visitors hang their own specially-created spoons in the trees, using decoration or labelling to capture significant thoughts or experiences.’
Dunollie plans to host a ‘clan month’ in August to celebrate the Year of Archaeology, Heritage and Culture through a series of events including wooden-spoon decorating. This season will also be the last chance to catch the current Hope MacDougall exhibition on display, as the team at Dunollie is working on a new exhibition of childhood for 2018.
Alice’s next installation will be featured in the Oban Chocolate Company on the Esplanade.