Gold logo for Alchemy, Artefacts Reimagined.

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

The result is Alchemy, an exhibition which uncovers new meanings in our collections – and creatively illuminates 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. 

We hope Alchemy inspires you to look at our collections differently, and to reimagine the connections between our past and present.

Where and when 

You can see Alchemy at Poole Museum until Sunday 6 September, 2020. The final venue for the exhibition is Dorset Museum in late spring 2021.  

Please check the individual museums’ websites for details of opening dates and booking systems.

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 and walked on.
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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 has been generously supported by Ridinghouse/Karsten Schubert.

Artist Ann-Marie James standing beside her artwork, Chieftain.
Ann-Marie James with her artwork, Chieftain 1.
Wild Life in the Red

What do you think about our exhibition?

Sawfish are also called carpenter sharks...but they are rays, not sharks!

There’s also a species called a sawshark, but that’s, well, a shark!

What the heck is a lek?

Males great bustards perform spectacular courtship displays, gathering at a ‘lek’ or small display ground to try to impress the females.

Road Runner!

The great bustard has a dignified slow walk but tends to run when disturbed, rather than fly.

Belly Buster!

The hen-bird on display at The Salisbury Museum was one of the last great bustards to be eaten in the town!

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