New Dimensions: Contemporary Art Inspired by Hidden Collections

Hidden objects from the museum stores are being vividly re-imagined in film, photography, sculpture, textiles and poetry for an exhibition at the Museum of Somerset in Taunton.

‘New Dimensions’ opens on Saturday 16 January 2016 and will feature work created by a group of professional artists who have been granted exclusive behind-the-scenes access to the museum’s extensive stores.

Palstave Axe Variation No 1. by Chris Dunseath

Those stores are at the Somerset Heritage Centre, on the edge of Taunton, where the county’s vast collection of archives, historic books and museum objects are preserved.  The museum reserve collections are usually only available for research and academic study. But in an innovative partnership between local artists and museum curators, these rarely-seen objects will be brought to life as the inspiration for contemporary art works. The new works will be exhibited at the Museum of Somerset alongside some of the objects they celebrate.

Specific Evidence by Jenny GrahamSam Astill, Exhibitions Curator at the Museum of Somerset, said: “Our museum collections contain around three million objects and only a fraction of them can be on public display at any one time. This exhibition is a chance to see some of those hidden objects and to enjoy the new perspectives on Somerset’s amazing past that the artists have revealed.”

The exhibition features work by six local artists: Jenny Graham, painter and printmaker, Chris Dunseath, sculptor, Jacy Wall, textile artist and printmaker, Laura Aish, filmmaker and sound artist, Ralph Hoyte, declamatory poet, and Richard Tomlinson, photographer and filmmaker.  Among the collections that captured their imaginations are Roman jewellery, Bronze Age axes, Victorian and Edwardian insect and plant collections, postcards, and machinery from Somerset’s farming, industrial and domestic past.

New Dimensions has been supported by Arts Council England using public funding from the National Lottery. The exhibition runs from 16 January to 16 April, 2016 at The Museum of Somerset, a service provided by the South West Heritage Trust. For more information or follow the artists’ blog at