Saturday, September 19, 2015

Recent Artist Research Residency at the Museum

Photograph of the Museum exterior taken by Rachel with a pinhole camera.

Rachel Emily Taylor spent two weeks researching in the Museum.  Here she tells us about her work...

As part of my Fine Art practice-based PhD, I was awarded funding by the Arts and Humanities Research Council to undertake research at the MWM. I was granted 16-days to rummage through the witches’ library, explore the collection and photograph the building during the candlelit session... with my trusty 10 x 8” pinhole camera!

My PhD research is focused on biographical narratives within museums. I am exploring how art practice might communicate a historical character’s ‘voice’, with a particular focus on artefacts and museum captions. The MWM is a rich treasure trove of information that bridges these areas, brimming with stories and magic.

Whilst in the MWM library, I worked my way through Cecil Williamson’s original captions – some water-stained from the 2004 flood – to dig up gems of information and forgotten narratives. During this time I discovered links between Williamson and Edward Lovett, a prominent expert on amulets and author of Magic in Modern London (1925). Williamson collected a number of items from Lovett, including the Mole’s feet charms currently on display in the museum.

Alongside uncovering Williamson’s professional relationship with Lovett, I could not help be captivated by Williamson’s friendship with Joan Wytte. Regulars at the museum with know Joan; her skeleton was kept in the museum until she was reburied by Graham King. Within Williamson’s notes, I discovered profound information on their friendship and his detective work on her history. In his letters, Williamson described Joan as a “Guardian Angel” and she still is. As Helen Cornish wrote, Joan “is very much alive, and living in the Cornish landscape” (2003, p.94).

This photo of Rachel at work in the Museum library was very kindly provided by Tia Cordwell.

To keep up to date with Rachel’s research, visit:

Below are some photos that she took (the captions are based on ones in the Museum archive but they were re-typed by Rachel on rice paper).

Photograph above taken at Merlin's Cave, Tintagel.

Photographs above show the White Tower in Boscastle and are called "Calling Down the Moon."

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