Metamorphosis: Form and Change in the Ashmolean Museum

Museum studies and documentary photography.

A high quality photo book exploring the relationship between visitors and art in the museum.
Museum studies related documentary photography book.

Metamorphosis: Form and Change in the Ashmolean Museum is a collection of black and white photographs by James A. Hudson, 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. The book was printed in Italy after a successful crowd funding campaign on Kickstarter.

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.

Museum studies related documentary photography book.

James A. Hudson writes, “I remembered reading about people being turned into inanimate objects in Ovid’s stories of metamorphosis – for example, in one story Daphne becomes a tree. Also, 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.”

The book features texts by the Ashmolean Museum’s director XA Sturgis, the writer and publisher Peter Hamilton and the author.

Copies of the book are held in the collections of the V&A National Art Library, Goldsmiths University Library and the Royal College of Art amongst others.

Some signed copies of the book are still available to buy from RRB Photobooks.

Published by The Bardwell Press (Oxford).

 

Museum studies related documentary photography book. Museum studies related documentary photography book. Museum studies related documentary photography book.