Halla Hannesdottir is currently the Resident Armchair Artist at The Beaney in Canterbury. 

I recently arrived in Canterbury and it was a great pleasure to view the Beaney’s collection for the first time. I’ve been checking out the Beaney’s collection on the museum’s website for a few months now in preparation for my residency and it was a real treat to finally see it all with my own eyes.  The building is spectacular with high ceilings and each room offers pieces in different mediums, including photographs, painting and objects. After a very welcoming tour and meeting some of the Beaney´s friendly staff I went for a wander around the museum to take it all in.

It being my first visit I decided to explore the whole museum and see what each room had to offer and get an idea of which objects and themes I wanted to investigate throughout my stay. It was not an easy task as there are so many interesting and inspirational objects on display and so many pieces I wanted to pause at and take a longer look.

I quickly noticed that scale might become a bit of a theme during my residency as I found my interest immediately taken by the miniatures located in the ´Materials and Masters´room and the extravagant Curiosity Cabinet in ´The Study´room. Dollhouses are usually reserved for children but I always think of elaborate dollhouse cabinets and Victorian dollhouses as being owned by serious collectors. So the connection between the dollhouses and curiosity cabinets isn´t that far off – they can both be display cases for precious items. Their collections however could barely be more diverse, the dollhouse is almost a replica of our everyday lives, with an interior filled with miniature furniture pieces and everyday goods, whereas the curiosity cabinets are traditionally filled with objects that almost seem otherworldly, filled with rare specimens of animals and sea creatures.


For my first visit I lingered a bit longer admiring the miniatures on display in the ´Materials and Masters’ room. It´s funny how you can be drawn to objects that are so tiny and fragile when you´re in such a big space surrounded by endless interesting pieces. Below are the small objects that got most of my attention during my visit:

  • A collection of dollhouse glass bottles and perfume samples, three of which had intricate detailing of paper and thread around the bottleneck and golden labels.
  • Miniature glass animal ornaments including a blue monkey and a green frog. Metal surrounded their necks which was attached to a little loop which, I´m guessing, can be attached to jewellery pieces such as a necklace
  • The tiniest little sculptures of two antelopes that looked so delicate I couldn´t even imagine how they could be touched without them falling apart.


I can´t wait to explore more of the miniatures, there´s plenty more of them to see, I´d especially like to investigate the small furniture pieces. I´m also excited to take a closer look at the curiosity cabinet and its collections. I´ve already got my eye on a few pieces that I will use as inspiration for some drawings which I will share with you on the next blog.

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Artefacts in exhibition case The Beaney Museum

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