Gold logo for Alchemy, Artefacts Reimagined.

Wessex Museums invited artist Ann-Marie James to explore the collections of four of our partner museums, then choose an object from each to inspire a series of new artworks.

The result was Alchemy, an exhibition which uncovered new meanings in our collections – and creatively illuminated the significance of Wessex.

Themes and techniques 

Ann-Marie James spent a year ‘reimagining’ these artefacts to create the new artworks. All the pieces are in gold and/or white – gold from the Bush Barrow Lozenge and the tale of Bacchus and Midas, white from the chalk that the Amesbury Archer was found in, and the white of the Roman mosaic.

Her techniques included drawing, painting, printmaking, and gilding with 24ct gold. For ‘Bacchus’, she shaved a Roman mosaic design into a cream rug. 

It was the hope that Alchemy would inspire visitors to look at our collections differently, and to reimagine the connections between past and present.

Where and when 

The exhibit is now closed, but further information about what was displayed and the exhibit itself can be found on the Dorset Alchemy Event Page.

Objects and Their Original Museum

Inspired by the Bush Barrow lozenge, the finest example of Bronze Age craftsmanship ever found.
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A Roman glass head, thought to depict the face of the god of wine, Bacchus, inspired the Midas series.
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The flint arrowheads in the grave of the 4,000 year old Amesbury Archer inspired the Archer series.
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A beautiful Roman mosaic inspired Bacchus - this intricate artwork is designed to be touched.
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Meet Ann-Marie James 

Ann-Marie James lives and works in Suffolk. Her practice encompasses painting, drawing, collage and various forms of printmaking. Her work is rooted in the exploration and reinterpretation of antiquity and art history, reminding us all that in looking back we can also look forward.

“In my practice I explore the idea of change, of metamorphoses, of one thing turning into another. Change is a constant, and I am interested in the connectedness of all things, in a cultural conversation that stretches right back to antiquity, and to ancient Greek and Roman myth in particular.”

Ann-Marie James’ work is held at the British Museum, London; the British School at Rome, Italy; Chelsea College of Art and Design, University of the Arts, London; the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and the John Jones Collection, London.

This exhibition was generously supported by Ridinghouse/Karsten Schubert.

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