Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Shrewsbury Museum animation project

I've been commissioned by Shrewsbury Museum and Art gallery to make a short animated film about their pre-historic collection, to be displayed in the new space which they are currently renovating (the Music Hall in Shrewsbury town square, it will be an amazing space). I just visited the museum to have a closer look at some of the objects which will be featured in the animation, and they opened up some of the cases so I could handle them. I've been sketching and drawing them through the glass over the past month or so, but it was a very special opportunity to finally get to hold them in real life. Plus I had to wear CSI style gloves! Cool.
These are the Nesscliffe spoons (above) a pair of Iron Age spoons which are very rare and thought to be part of some kind of Druidic rituals. In the Portable Antiquities Scheme annual report (05/06) they state that "It has been suggested that liquid (not water) was allowed to drip or pour through the hole in one spoon, perhaps on to the bowl of the other". I love that "not water", so very understated. It has also been suggested that the liquid might have been blood (or, less excitingly, beer), which is most categorically not water.

Me holding a tiny, fragile and beautiful flint arrow head.

For me the most thrilling object was a hand axe (below) from early Palaeolithic times, by far the oldest object in the collection. It would have been used before the end of the last ice age, as a general all purpose tool, for anything from cutting wood to skinning an animal.

The truly amazing thing about it though is that it wasn't used by humans, it was used by homo heidelbergensis, the most 'recent' relative of homo sapiens (i.e. us).

I held it in my hand and the edges were all really sharp, until I eventually found the one position where it sat comfortably in my palm. You would have cut your hand using it in any position but one, and that one allowed you to access all the cutting edges from lots of different angles. It was incredible to think how long ago someone else had the same thought processes I had about how to use it.
Hand axe


Richard Phelan said...

This is great! I can't wait to see the film :)

Av said...

Amazing! What a great subject! Best of luck with the film.