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Meet the Artist

Artist in Residence Jeni McConnell

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Jeni investigates places in layers, often starting with the underlying geology and landmark structures, locating hints to human settlement patterns.

She tracks the markers of journeys and other activities through maps, objects and documents found in museums, archives and collections. She uses these objects and ephemera as social objects together with the provenance, myths and mysteries that accompany them to engage with people, encouraging them to challenge their views of a place.

 

 

I like to challenge the closed door or cabinet where people can see museums and archives stuffily holding onto the past. My preference is for playfully engaging both in and outside these spaces, taking the museum outdoors, to the people, as well as encouraging the people to come inside to share experiences, and contemplate others’ experience too.

Jeni was engaged as the Artist in Residence for Exploring Halton’s Collections at the outset of the project and spent her research time engaged with the four collections and their teams, delving into the rich and diverse history of the area. Initially Jeni created simple mixed collection cabinet displays in each of the locations following themes such as Round about Halton, Eating out in Halton and Significant Names.

Other public events included:

5e (2)Salt Lines

A 17-mile bike ride along the canal network from the Lion Salt Works to Catalyst Science Discovery Centre, trailing a line of salt along the entire route. During the ride over 100 unique salt drawings on black paper were given away to passers by; a representation of the significant materials used by the alkali industry on which Halton’s industrial heritage is founded.

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Table Talk

A laid table display at Runcorn Town Hall, using civic silver and tableware with other objects from the collections to represent significant names from Halton’s past, as if these people were dining together. Jeni facilitated an invigorating discussion with local history groups and other interested members of the public about the history of Halton through those remembered names

 

 Teacup Talks

P1310925editA giant teacup and saucer, modelled on one in the Halton Borough Council Civic Collection believed to have originally been owned by the Duke of Bridgewater, was floated along the Bridgewater Canal. The journey started at Norton Town Bridge and ended at the Brindley, walking the last section of the canal to be completed. The story of the dispute between Sir Richard Brooke of Norton Priory and the Duke was explained and discussed along the route.

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