VISIT Salisbury Museum at present and you’ll notice an unusual cabinet in the Wessex Gallery. The new lottery-funded Wessex houses the archaeological displays: it’s modern, slick and authoritative.

So coming across a collection of coins might be expected. But hang on a moment, these look like 1p pieces. And next to them, a pile of curtain hooks, then some shells, DIY bits and pieces, screws and washers, buttons. All are loosely arranged, as if tipped from the old jam jars that contained them. Sculptor Moira Ross is the artist responsible, and she must have a good sense of humour, for these ‘Domestic Hoards’ are her modern take on the archaeological collections on display in the rest of the gallery.

Indeed we all have jars, Tupperware, and cardboard boxes that hold stuff that might be needed one day. This stuff always outlasts our own brief lives.

I particularly liked the ‘Workshop Bits and Pieces’ which are bright and shiny and look like they would only be useful in assembling flat-pack furniture. Very apt for today’s DIYer. There is an explanatory sign, which in museum-style explains the items’ history. The buttons were “from a collection of Ida Macdonald (artist’s mother) but added to by the artist.”

Ross is taking part in ‘Conversations with the Collection’, an exhibition running at the museum until September. And she is certainly the best part of it, not least because she has also sculpted from stone some miniatures which have a far-eastern quality. Some of these do resemble archaeological finds, but again I feel her sense of humour has had some influence.

The exhibition does not seem to have a curator, but all the work has been supplied by Sarum Artists, a group linked through study at Wiltshire College. Fourteen artists had access to the museum’s collections and were given a tour by Adrian Green, the museum’s director. The exhibition marked one year after the Wessex gallery opened to the public.

This is the third exhibition by a group of local artists (with Salisbury Group of Artists and Plain Arts), so a comparison can be made. All the shows are being used as promotion and for sales, but only the Sarum Artists have a group theme. Because of this, but more particularly as it is a paid show with validation by a museum, there is a responsibility for quality control.

Here, I am afraid to say, the Sarum Artists fall down. Some of the ideas and some of execution is not good. Moira Ross excepted. Her contribution made me smile. Does humour have a place in art? It has an important place in life, so yes.

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