I Felt like I was in the Sky

The latest blog from Adam De Ville,  Resident Armchair Artist at The Beaney in Canterbury.

It’s a couple of days after my experiment playing birdsong at the miniatures collection. All the birds have flown now but the session proved very successful. Visitors shared their personal responses to the miniatures, and to my recorded birdsong from my garden.

Visitors’ memories, associations, imaginings, feelings in response to the birdsong and the miniatures were displayed on luggage labels on the cabinet near the artefacts’ origin story as birdsong echoed through the room and out into the corridor to entice people over to a miniature world full of possibilities.

I spent the morning in the room with the collection as visitors of all ages and several nationalities came to stand, listen, investigate, whistle and dream.

Here’s a link to a short video I took:


I think the birdsong helped heighten the miniatures’ twee and macabre nature, and the simple act of sharing responses as a way of connecting with the material helped to place it in context within our contemporary sensibilities, making connections to its original purpose and feelings not necessarily directly connected. It was a piece of live theatre that wasn’t meant to last for long, but perhaps repeated again in the future for new audiences to generate fresh responses and add to its evolving tapestry?

Recording people’s responses was an important element and the labels form a historical archive of a moment in the life of the miniatures collection.

It was also very interesting opening a little window into the lives of visitors…almost as if the artefacts were staring into our hearts and minds, into our worlds, for a change. We fleetingly became living artefacts, and in their power to ignite our imagination, so did the inanimate objects contained in the cabinet.


A reminder of the questions that visitors were asked to answer:

How does the miniatures collection make you feel?

How does the addition of birdsong affect your experience?

And here are some visitor responses:

The birdsong gives the house a flashback quality which isn’t completely comfortable. It’s almost like the moment after something momentous has happened leaving just the abandoned house and the birdsong.

The birdsong makes me feel the absence of the children I imagine would pay with these miniatures. A bit haunted! Holly Huff

Makes me feel like a child again. Birdsong brings back memories of my garden in Bromley.

The miniatures remind me of my childhood friend Madeline and how much I admired her doll house and collection of tiny furniture. The birdsong was peaceful and somewhat disorienting. Brooke Parker

I find museums with lots of little artefacts quit dark and cluttered. The birdsong feels like it brings sunshine and light into a dim space.

Anxious. The oppressive atmosphere of the settings. Perfect in their precision but absent of humanity with the birdsong heightening the feeling.

Wonderful birdsong. Made me feel at peace. It reminded me of a warm summer’s day, playing in my back garden as a child.

The birdsong makes you feel like you are in an open space, the beginning of a beautiful day. I love the collection because it reminds me of when I was a child because I used to have wooden toys.


Amazing. Bea x

Relaxing and the birdsong is a good idea. It would be nice to have more materials to try out things for myself…

I feel foresty. I feel like I am in a village. I felt like I was in the sky.

Image credit: Barry Amos

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Artefacts in exhibition case The Beaney Museum

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