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

Since my last experiment, birdsong at the miniatures, I thought I’d do another one!

Reflections of an Unidentified Man explores Henry Weekes’ sculpture as a talisman of the imagination.

I thought I’d place a rather fancy mirror in front of the artefact, play some music by familiar crooners from the 60’s and ask visitors who the unidentified man reminds them of. Why? Well, my response to this masterpiece is one of nostalgia; he reminds me of an old crooner, of a lothario in a film by David Lynch of Twin Peaks fame. He also reminds me of lots of other people, triggers memories and associations. He makes me wonder who he was, and what he might have seen and overheard over the years. So I’m going to hang some of these thoughts on luggage labels on the stand holding the mirror along with everyone else’s responses.

In addition to the artefacts’ origins, I am interested in whether we can help sustain them by sharing how we see them in our imagination. By elevating the exhibit I hope to create a sense of liveness, a moment in time, a record of part of its journey. I hope to explore the artefact’s ability to reflect contemporary sensibilities, to rediscover its relevance today. In generating a shared sense of liveness, I also hope to provide an imaginative route back to its origins.

unidentified man 2

It would be interesting to see if these experiments, installations or little happenings could have a life in a living museum where artefacts are sustained by their origin stories and contemporary responses. In this way these artefacts could not only form conduits to the time they were conceived but to other points in our history.

Reflections of an Unidentified Man gives us licence to dream. In fact Henry Weekes’ has already done just that by omitting to tell us who his subject was…

I will be holding this experiment on Saturday 23rd July from 9.30 until around midday in the Materials and Masters Room. Come along and share your responses. (I take my tea with a dash of milk and a custard cream. Thanks).

Here are a few thoughts to consider:

What name would you give the Unidentified Man?

How does he make you feel?

What do you imagine he’s overheard over time between these walls and beyond?

Who does he remind you of?

What would you like to say to him?