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The British Museum

The British Museum

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I graduated from the University of Kent in 2017 with a degree in English and American & Creative Writing and currently study and work in museums. I guess I went from telling stories with words to telling stories through objects and pictures. 

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I met a security guard while I took these pictures, he found me curled up at the base of one of the Greek statues. My camera sat, held in one hand, half propped up on my lip-gloss tube and my lens cap. I’d been walking the gallery for a while, curled on the floor, hiding behind pillars, finding any ledge I could. 

 

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‘Hello young lady,’ he said. 

‘Hey there,’ I said, looking up. He was smiling. 

‘Got to say, this is the strangest place I have found someone today.’

‘Do you need me to move?’ I asked, 

‘No, just wondering what you’re up to. It’s public here, you can do what you like, we’re your collection. Just don’t use a tripod.’

I grinned and pointed to the contents of my pocket which had become my makeshift platform. ‘Yep, I’m improvising.’

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We continued to have a chat. You see there was quite a long time between each exposure and you have to fill it up somehow. This guard was a good substitute for my usual roll of Audible stories, but he quickly lost interest as when taking long exposures without a tripod you find you need to be very still. That didn’t leave me able to make much in the way of conversation. 

 

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As for this image set, I’m often struck by the immateriality of people. I suppose my current thoughts had been on how people head to museums to explore and observe these objects - vessels in a sense; vessels of times past, of histories and emotions, of art and individuals.

 

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When I headed to the British Museum with my camera, I didn’t have a plan for any images, just waited for the space to speak to me. 

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What I found was the museum reversed – what do the objects see as we pass through museums, as they travel through the millennia, each of us treading the same footsteps they’ve seen trodden before?

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How many discussions have they seen between a guard and a student? How many tourists lens have they looked down into? 

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How many of your own ancestors have, at some point, stood looking at the same object? 

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Instead of looking for answers, I let the questions and thoughts swirl like background noise as the pictures took themselves.

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It’s like Florence Welch says about her lyric writing: it’s a kind of channeling, an exploring of things not fully formed in my mind. I guess it’s my own way of creating useless magic.

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Tara Griffin is a MA student at Kingston University. She's a museum professional, photographer and pigeon enthusiast. She studied English Lit and Creative Writing at the University of Kent, and now finds her love and talent for telling stories transmuted from words, to objects and images. She’s primarily interested in exploring the relationships between places and people, especially telling the stories of London and Londoners. Her other big interest is participation and co-curation. She desperately wants to smash the authoritative "writing on the wall" often found in museums and devises participatory elements and workshops for museums and galleries.

Instagram: Taeriagriffin

Website: tarajgriffin.com

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