ARTWORK and archaeology are combined at a new exhibition at Salisbury Museum, which opened on Saturday.
Collecting Patterns by American artist Sue Johnson was inspired by the 19th century collector General Pitt-Rivers.
The exhibition draws together a selection of two series of work that Johnson created in response to the illustrations in Pitt-Rivers’ second collection manuscript catalogue.
It then goes on to show new work that has been inspired by the Pitt-Rivers Wessex Collection at Salisbury Museum, particularly the local archaeology documented in his four volume publication Excavations in Cranborne Chase (1887-1896).
Johnson’s new work illuminates both everyday and unusual objects in the Wessex Collection, drawing connections between the patterns of Pitt-Rivers’ collecting practices and those found on the surfaces of the objects themselves.
Her watercolours and wallpaper designs are shown alongside pieces from the museum’s collection.
Johnson, a teacher at St Mary’s College of Maryland, was an associate researcher with the major three-year research project called Rethinking Pitt-Rivers: Analysing the Activities of the Nineteenth Century Collector in 2010-11.
Salisbury Museum is a project partner and Johnson first came to the city two years ago to begin the project.
She said: “I began by looking at the collection to see what kinds of objects there were and the relationships there might be, and thinking about transformation.”
Auction catalogues also helped inspire Johnson’s work.
“Auctions are another kind of collection, the objects are brought together and then dispersed then lost in their own way,” she said.
“Some work deals with the way we name things and relate to things that we know – objects humans make and nature, and bringing that together.”
Johnson is interested in exploring how the role of the artist has an impact on the way in which knowledge is distributed, and her work reflects on what she has discovered about Pitt-Rivers as a collector, and how his collections have been documented.
“It’s a beautiful installation,” she said. “This was the way I had really hoped things could be installed.”
The exhibition runs until May 10.