In the academic year 2010-2011 the CinBA Project invited course leaders of contemporary craft subjects at Higher Education and Further Education level to become involved in the research through a Live Project opportunity for their students. Using Bronze Age objects as sources for their own research-based practice, participating students were asked to design and develop new contemporary craft objects in response to the prehistoric material. They were not limited to the media that are the archaeological focus of the project (ceramics, textiles and bronze) but were also invited to develop ideas in other materials, focussing on motifs, design elements, complete objects, or any combination of these.
Dr Jo Sofaer (CinBA Project leader) visited participating institutions to give an introductory seminar on the Bronze Age and the archaeology of craft, and to provide an object handling session. Students were also provided with a project brief, an on-line Bronze Age resource pack and a list of references to kick-start their research. The project was met with huge enthusiasm from course leaders, who used the opportunity to inspire field trips to prehistoric sites and Bronze Age collections in local and national museums, to produce student-led blogs for the exchange of ideas, and to develop new topics for critical writing assignments exploring the role of the past in contemporary craft.
Over 150 contemporary craft students from 5 UK institutions had contact with the CinBA project. Those who went on to use the project to develop new work were invited to submit their sketchbooks, supporting designs, and completed objects in competition for representation in an online exhibition curated by Professor Janis Jefferies. The work of 12 outstanding students is presented in the exhibition. Their work represents several different media, styles and sources of inspiration. Some of the students have drawn upon Bronze Age making techniques, whilst others have found inspiration in the sensual qualities, shapes or motifs of prehistoric objects, and many have been intrigued by the meanings and interpretations of objects from a prehistoric past. Statements and design sketches by each maker included in the exhibition allow us to trace these diverse jumping off points from Bronze Age material culture that inspired and informed the making process of the exciting and intriguing new craft objects presented.
We would like to thank the all the course tutors and students who embraced the idea of exploring Bronze Age artefacts from the perspective of contemporary craft practice.
Dr Jo Sofaer
CinBA Project Leader, University of Southampton
CinBA Project Liaison, Crafts Council