The Hunt Museum’s latest exhibition Made of Earth explores the story of clay and ceramics and examines how they have impacted civilisation through the ages and in turn how civilisation has developed through their use. The interactive exhibition and experience uses touch, sound, virtual reality and games to bring to life the physical and symbolic properties of ceramics and their importance to our social history.
After feeling clay in its raw state, the visitor discovers how pottery and ceramic making originated and developed over time going on a journey from prehistory c. 9000BC through Ancient Rome and the Renaissance right up to the Industrial Revolution and the advent of mass production while the rituals, symbolic meanings and technical achievements are highlighted. The experience is enhanced through the use of the Hunt Museum’s new clay studio, immersive video, 3D printing and audio access, VR and games.
The exhibition showcases several ceramic pieces from the Hunt Museum’s permanent collections from the Neolithic to Irish Contemporary ceramics, allowing visitors to gain an appreciation of their origins, uses and pictorial decorations that adorn them.
Jill Cousins, Director, The Hunt Museum, said, “The formations of civilisations, our use of tools, our interest in beauty, and even our identity, are all entwined with the development of ceramics. Made of Earth tells that story while showcasing the Hunt Museum’s rich collection of ceramics. Deliberately not a passive experience of looking and reading, Made of Earth evokes all your senses in a very immersive way. We hope that this helps visitors to engage in our collection in a new way and gain an understanding of the fundamental role ceramics has played in our shared history across the globe.”
Feel the Earth: Visitors are introduced to the basic medium of ceramics - clay in its raw state. The visitor is encouraged to feel it, mould it and create with it. At scheduled workshops and demonstrations, visitors will also have the opportunity to see works being created by ceramic artists.
The Elements: See how each of the four elements - earth, water, air and fire - contributes to the creation of a ceramic object. Visitors step into an experience where they are in the wind and air as they watch a film showing how kaolinite is mined, mixed by humans with water to form clay and then formed into an object which is fired in a pit or kiln.
Where on Earth: A digital map annotated with objects shows how pottery and ceramics evolved in different regions, influenced by the clay from that region and trade routes.
Humans and Ceramics: this has two main sections; one on ceramics used for ritual where 3D printed versions of the ancient artefacts can be viewed while listening to the story about them. The second looks at domestic uses of ceramics over time taking pieces from The Hunt Museum’s collections from cooking pots, to watering cans to wine ewers and even chamber pots. It also demonstrates how decoration on ceramics not only created an object of beauty but helped define cultures and tell stories. The section on decoration uses VR to tell the story that we have all seen on blue and white plates, bowls and dishes.
Irish Ceramics get a look in and bring the visitor right up to date with ceramics as Art and the Irish Contemporary Ceramics Collection. This is a joint initiative with the Ceramics Department and Limerick School of Art & Design (TUS) which intends to reflect the richness and creativity of contemporary ceramic practice in Ireland, while complementing the Museum’s diverse holding of historic ceramic artefacts.
How on Earth? Play the Game! Visitors get to play a game and create a tile, using chance and things gleaned from the exhibition.