‘Belief’ started life as part of a collaboration between the Garden Museum and Morley College and was inspired by the newly reconstructed TRADESCANT ARK at The Garden Museum in 2017. The Curiosity Project explored the astonishing diversity of the recorded and surviving 17th century collection of natural, cultural, mythical and curious objects amassed by the Tradescant family at their Lambeth home. The collection eventually formed the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. A selection has been lent to the Garden Museum where the Tradescant family have a famously elaborate tomb, and Elias Ashmole is also buried.

‘Elias Ashmole acquired his collection from two gardeners: John Tradescant, father and son. The Tradescants were no ordinary gardeners; they were employed by the wealthy Earl of Salisbury. The Tradescants voyaged overseas, travelling the known world and shipping back new and exotic plant specimens for the Earl’s gardens. In the course of their travels they also acquired a remarkable collection of curiosities that included botanical, geological and zoological items as well as man-made objects. The Tradescant’s themselves established a museum in Lambeth, South London, known as ‘The Ark’ to house their collection in 1634. A visitor to this original museum commented that ‘a man might in one day behold…more curiosities than he should see if he spent all his life in travel.’ The collection contained treasures such as the mantle of Pocahontas’s father (Powhatan) and the stuffed body of the last dodo ever seen in Europe.’  the Ashmolean Museum.

The collection of objects on the spectacular rough-cut recycled timber table are made from interesting objects found whilst mud-larking on the banks of the Thames – clay pipes, rusted objects and recycled pieces found closer to home – naturally dyed threads, seed pods and even bones from our dinners. Together with The King of Saxony, Mantle and Apron, they form the larger collection you can see on display in Still Life.

‘Still Life’ runs at the Leicester Contemporary, 16 Market Street, Leicester, LE1 6DP until the 27th of November. (Tues- Sat, 11am – 6pm). Many thanks to @leicestercontemporary @florencetrust @leicestercitycouncil The Company of Artists cic and @designseasonleicester and of course special thanks again to Steve and Yuka.

All text and images © moderneccentrics

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