Metamorphosis: Form and Change in the Ashmolean Museum is a collection of black and white photographs produced by James during his time as Artist in Residence at the museum in 2010-11 following its multi-million pound transformation.
This beautifully produced photobook, featuring high quality duotone images, explores the relationship between visitors and art in a museum environment.
Inspired by Ovid’s Metamorphoses, the project deals with the unusual and sometimes uneasy relationships between visitors and the objects they encounter in the museum setting, and questions whether we need to see ourselves in the art before us. As the things that become art are placed in a museum and silenced, cordoned off and abstracted, so the visitor is hushed by their grand surroundings, and chaperoned through a gallery according to a plan designed for them by the curator.
James writes, “I remembered reading about people being turned into inanimate objects in Ovid’s stories of metamorphosis – in one story Daphne becomes a tree. The frustration caused by an inability to speak is a recurring theme in Ovid’s stories, and this related to what I was seeing – quiet, often silent, visitors and speechless objects. I suppose the pictures are like echoes of what has happened in the museum.”
As poet, actor and dramatist Heathcote Williams observes, “This extraordinary project shows that nature can imitate art. James A. Hudson catches visitors to the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford being influenced and transformed by the dramatic objects on view in subtle, often eerie ways. Magic.”
A testament to the visitor-art relationship, Metamorphosis: Form and Change in the Ashmolean Museum captures and preserves moments of true and often tender connection between members of the public and their historical predecessors, presenting a pictorial study of men and women finding identity, companionship, and solace in art.
Susie Gault, former Press and Publicity Manager at the Ashmolean Museum, writes, “It is with great joy that [the photographs] are now being presented in this book, a timeless record of one of the most exciting redevelopments in recent British museum history.”
Published by The Bardwell Press, in a limited edition of 350, the 96-page hardback book features 77 high quality duotone images. Each copy is individually signed, stamped and numbered. Limited edition of 20 with presentation slipcase. Also available with signed, numbered, limited edition Lambda fibre print.
With thanks to all those who so generously supported the Kickstarter campaign.