Torquay Museum - Museums Association

Torquay Museum

The Museum of Now
Shelley Castle
The Museum of Now is a six-month project run by participatory art organisation Encounters Arts, Torquay Museum and local community groups to create contemporary objects that will go on display in the museum.

Funded by the Arts Council England and launching earlier this year, Museum of Now will culminate this month with the exhibition of a collection of hand-made artefacts made by both large and small groups in Torquay.  

The groups involved in making the pieces include family groups, young fathers, European migrants and politically-active women. All have used the making process to voice their thoughts and feelings about living in Torquay today and their dreams for the future of the area.

As the lead artist for the project, I have responded to key objects in Torquay’s diverse collection as well as the stories of the participants. 

Using only recycled or natural materials, the objects created are massively varied.  Four bronze animal talismans created from a Devon boat propeller are now installed in the museum’s gallery about early humans in Britain. 

A staff, feather headdress and garland of beads with hidden messages will be installed in the Explorers gallery, while lace pieces based on sea plankton found locally will be installed in the Devon farmhouse gallery.  

Local community groups involved in the project have learnt new skills, gained creative confidence and voiced their feelings. The project has pioneered a creative approach to bridging the gap between a local museum and its community, and the lessons learnt along the way will help inform future projects based on the format in new local museums in the south west.

Shelley Castle is an artist and the lead of the Museum of Now project with Encounters Arts

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