A Year in the Orkney Museum. Rik Hammond

Orkney Museum

Clare Gee and Rik Hammond, 15.10.2015
An artist residency with no expectations
The Orkney Museum, which tells the story of Orkney from prehistory to the present day, has an important archaeology collection that is recognised through the Scottish government’s National Recognition Scheme.

Rik Hammond, a visual artist based in Orkney, has experience of working with museums, and he knows the museum and its staff well.

He uses a wide range of media, including drawing, video, data and site-specific/time-based interaction. In 2011-12, as the Orkney World Heritage Site artist-in-residence, he explored aspects of the island’s unique archaeological landscape.

Thanks to a Creative Scotland artist bursary, Hammond has been undertaking a 12-month self-directed visual arts research project focusing on Orkney Museum’s collections, stores and curated spaces. The museum has provided him with desk space and access.

As a project initiated and developed by the artist, the primary goal has been to gather research for new work. Hammond has spent the most of his timemajority of the time working with photography and video, recording and documenting objects on display as well as the building itself.

He has also been investigating and re-interpreting a selection of ephemeral, forgotten, de-accessioned, damaged and curious objects from the museum’s archaeology and social history collections.

Many artists working with museums focus on creating finished works. But the nature of this project has allowed Hammond to dedicate time to developing ideas for the longer term, in addition to strengthening relationships with curatorial and visitor services staff.

The museum has no expectations about the nature of any work produced, and has no requirement for finished pieces or an exhibition.

This approach can be refreshing and enables us to see our spaces, collections and displays in a new light.

This project has been primarily for the benefit of the artist, but the museum has been learning about its role and function throughout. This is hugely positive if, at times, challenging.

Clare Gee is the arts, museums and heritage service manager at Orkney Islands Council