Journey to the Ancient Near East with lunch at St John’s College


Thank you to Paul Collins, curator of the Ancient Near East for a fascinating tour of the Ancient Near East gallery on Saturday. We got an insight into some of the choices and challenges curators are faced with when planning new galleries and heard some hidden stories about ancient objects on display. Paul told us about an object he had chosen to take out from storage and display- a fragment of a  decorative wall made of small clay cones with coloured ends.  This object revealed the roles of many different people in its manufacture and construction and started us thinking about the lives of the people who might have made it and built it. Thank you Paul for a thought provoking tour. 

It’s a challenge to create resources which different teachers and students can use to explore galleries when they come on a self guided visit. Today the CREATIVES gave feedback about resources which are in the process of being developed for the Greek and Roman galleries for secondary schools. Everyone had plenty of ideas and suggestions for improvements all of which will feed into the final design- thanks team!

A highlight of the term was lunch at St John’s College. We all tucked in to the great selection of food on offer, caught some organ music in the chapel and enjoyed the sunshine in the quad.

 Thank you to Ruth and Katherine, access officers at St John’s, for having us!

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Following the acquisition of a painting by William Dobson set during the Civil War, The Museum is creating a new app for use by families and secondary school students. It will take people on a walking tour from the Ashmolean and its Civil War related objects around the city to visit key sites in Oxford linked with the Civil War.

The CREATIVES helped to edit the scripts which actors will use in some short films which will be on the app. Everyone agreed that taking a light-hearted approach would make the tour more interesting and enjoyable for the participants so shared ideas for clues and multiple choice questions for the app.

For example…..

What is written inside the scroll Prince Rupert is holding?

a. A design for a new hairstyle.

b. A recipe for roast pigeon with all the trimmings

c. Nothing.

Answer-c.  Nothing! 

Royalist Prince Rupert had lost Bristol in a battle and was in disgrace. King Charles I sent him a blank scroll to compose his confession of guilt. He was so adamant that he was innocent that he sent it back to the King empty.  Charles I appreciated this gesture and eventually Prince Rupert was reconciled with the King.

America’s Cool Modernism…. coming soon….

We  started to plan our ideas for a Summer Live Friday based around America’s Cool Modernism exhibition which opens on 23rd March. Taking inspiration from the stunning paintings in the exhibition, we planned and tried a collage activity to see how we could make it work for visitors on the night. Watch this space for more information about the event in the Summer!

Next meeting 24th February 10- 12 in the Education Studio. Come and join us as we meet Curator Paul Collins and hear about the Ancient Near East gallery and its collections then plan new activities for drop-in visitors aged 11- 18.




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CREATIVE Collograph

Ashmolean Creatives by Ian Wallman

At our final meeting of the term we all enjoyed learning and experimenting with collograph print making at an art workshop run by artist Ellen Love.

We explored The Ashmolean’s painting about the Civil War by Artist William Dobson, imagining what the main characters, including the dog, might have been thinking….. Then we found out more about the people in the painting. The main character on the left is Prince Rupert, a Royalist, whose army had been defeated at Bristol. He is holding a blank scroll, sent to him to by King Charles I to compose his confession. Rupert, convinced of his innocence, returned the scroll empty to the King and was eventually pardoned.

Ashmolean Creatives by Ian Wallman

We looked closely at the painting for inspiration for printmaking, and everyone made some sketches and drawings in front of the painting. People focused on different aspects such a the movement and textures of fabrics, patterns and the dog.

Ellen showed us how to construct a piece of work for collograph printmaking using a rage of techniques including layering, cutting, adding texture and fabrics. We enjoyed using inks and ‘polishing’ our piece before printing with the press.

Thank you Ellen for a wonderful session- we were all really pleased with the finished results!

Ashmolean Creatives by Ian Wallman

Ashmolean Creatives by Ian Wallman

Ashmolean Creatives by Ian Wallman

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Visit to Modern Art Oxford

‘On Saturday we visited Modern Art Oxford to see the new exhibition of Hannah Ryggen’s tapestries. Afterwards we had the opportunity to try some weaving ourselves in an interactive space which gave us an insight into the time and skill required for the art form.’ Asita

We were all struck by Hannah Ryggen’s powerful and stunning tapestries. We equally loved the huge scale cartoon-style collaborative work by Aleksandra Mir. At the end, everyone really enjoyed getting stuck into the gallery’s interactive weaving activities which were engaging visitors of all ages. Thanks very much to Sara Lowes, Curator, Creative Learning at Modern Art Oxford, MAO, for a fantastic experience.





Here are some of our responses to the visit…

Sophie: ‘I found the tapestry pieces incredibly powerful and moving- especially those depicting the rise of Nazism and their oppression of different societies.’

 Hannah: ‘The exhibition was amazing- the interactive part gave gave me a better understanding of Ryggen’s methods.’

Ellen: ‘I absolutely loved the interactive weaving room which you can go to after the exhibition. It allows you to really appreciate just how skillful and difficult Ryggen’s work is- and it’s really fun!’

Lewis: ‘This exhibition has been brilliant in showing the creative process Hannah Ryggen  went through for her tapestry work. The inclusion of workshops alongside it was a very nice touch so you can leave your own taste of what weaving is like.’

Andrei: ‘I really liked the way in which the exhibition introduces the artist to the visitors and contextualizes her art in the events of their own life.’

Maggie: ‘ As an enthusiast of art from fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries, I was amazed that these tapestries were to my liking. The amount of detail is exquisite and clearly shows hard work and passion. It is definitely worth having a look, even if you don’t usually enjoy modern art like me.’

Phoebe: ‘It was very interesting to see the contrast between Ryggen and Aleksandra Mir’s work and the different techniques used by the artists and the messages they were trying to get across.’

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Planning art workshops

Our meeting this week involved planning  some creative art workshops which we will be running on Saturday 2nd December for young people aged 16-18. We worked in small groups to plan practical aspects such as timings, materials, costs, the theme and content of the workshops to create a brief for the artist. We will be working with Ellen Love  to learn about the printmaking process of intaglio collograph. Come along and experiment with paper folding, ripping, refined knife cutting and textural layering to prepare a printing plate and create A4 work to take away.

If you would like to come to one of our FREE  art workshops on Saturday December 2017 at 10-12 or 1-3pm, please email

We finished with an object handling session for us all. Objects included ancient Greek and Roman pottery, thousands of years old and found out how flint axes were made and used. It was amazing to handle them for ourselves.




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