ITP 2012: Day 7 – Ma Shengnan
Today is the 7th day since Nevine and I arrived in this elegant and friendly country. It is a lovely sunny morning and there are cool and fresh smell in the air. We met with Jackie – a kind and professional lady who manages our training program in Newcastle here – at 9 o’clock morning and then our trip to Sunderland Museum began.
It is the first time we use the metro system in Newcastle. It took us about 40 minutes to go to Sunderland and we got a view of traditional pastoral landscape through window.
Sunderland Museum was established in 1846 and it is the first local authority museum outside London. Some rebuilding and construction work were done in 2001, so many exhibitions inside were recreated in recent years.
Based on my own special professional field, I am interested in those exhibitions about history and the objects shown in them. There are two exhibitions about local history here, named “20th Century Sunderland” and “COAL”. Martin Routledge, one of the four keepers in this museum, highlighted that all these exhibitions try to express history from a normal person’s view. That is why they use four short, specially commissioned films to feature four different female characters: Grace, Jean, Debbie, and Tracy and tell their stories in four atmospheric rooms sets aimed to find out how politics, convention and fashion have shaped and changed.
As an important producing area of pottery, Sunderland has abundant collection of pottery vessels. The pottery hall is designed in topical way with short but clear explaining labels. Staff working here told us that they cut the number of labels to encourage children to think and ask. And I found some pieces of blue and white pottery which are deeply influenced by Chinese style.
When we came to the Art Gallery, a traditional Chinese indoor furnishing object caught my eye. That is Garden of Tranquility loaned from V&A Museum in London. This piece is such a delicate and well preserved one that is a first class relic even in the Palace Museum. The thing that astonished me more is that the explanation on label of this object is so professional that even can identify that it was made in GuangDong. Shauna Gregg is the keeper who wrote this label even she is not a specialist in Chinese art. I admire her effort!