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Alchemy Artists at The Manchester Museum

21 Feb 2007

Exhibition from 24 February reveals connections between artists and collections

Alchemy is The Manchester Museum's first sustained research programme for artists, supporting artists to work with Museum collections and access University expertise in the creation of new work. Alchemy aims to reinvigorate museum displays, encourage diverse approaches and present alternative voices on the Museum's collections through an exciting programme of exhibitions, talks and events developed through the artists' continuing research. Alchemy is very much an ongoing project and the progress of the programme will be continually updated on:

The artists involved in this project are Jordan Baseman, Jacob Cartwright & Nick Jordan, Ilana Halperin and Jamie Shovlin. Alchemy launches on 24 February, with an exhibition at the Museum revealing the connections between the artists and the Museum's collections.

Each of the artists involved have a different focus, which will bring even more to the Alchemy project. Jordan Baseman's current research investigates ideas around contemporary portraiture and narrative structure. At the Museum, Baseman is interested in developing new video works and screenplays that combine the factual with the anecdotal, and is hoping to work with University disciplines such as Visual Anthropology in order to support this.

Jacob Cartwright & Nick Jordan are Manchester based artists who recently published the book Alien Invaders: a guide to non-native species of the Britisher Isles (Book Works, 2006). Their ongoing collaborative work draws upon cultural and natural history. Their interest in seeking out unusual conjunctions and unanticipated narratives correlates with The Manchester Museum being the only university museum to cover the natural and cultural world.

Ilana Halperin's work explores the relationship between geological phenomena and daily life. From boiling milk in a 100 degree sulphur spring or celebrating her birthday with a landmass of the same age, Halperin's work is informed by the geological history and environmental situation specific to where she works. Halperin's Alchemy Fellowship means she can work with the Museum's geology and palaeontology collections, as well as with the people who study, care for and collect these specimens.

Finally, Jamie Shovlin examines and questions the underlying structure, systems and emphasis on the tension between reality and fiction. Shovlin addresses the seemingly authoritative nature of the archive. At The Manchester Museum, Shovlin will initiate his research by looking into the parallels and contrasts between the Museum's historical collections and their methods of acquisitions and the potential avenues of acquisition today.

Bryony Bond, Alchemy curator at the Museum, has said "The selected artists open a wealth of opportunities for new avenues of research at the Museum and University. All the artists bring entirely fresh and personal perspectives to the subject areas and disciplines they're fascinated in; qualities that are sure to result in some exciting debates and great work being produced."