A photographic project by the Ashmolean Museum’s 2010-2011 Artist in Residence. Taking its name from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, it explores the relationship between museum visitors and art.
“…the strange kind of
shapeless shapeliness, of shapely shapelessness…”
(St Bernard of Clairvaux)
About this project
During 2010, James visited the recently refurbished Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, and began taking photographs of what he found there. When he showed his photographs to the museum, some months later, they were excited about the project and offered James the role of Artist in Residence 2010-2011. Metamorphosis: Form and Change in the Ashmolean Museum is the photobook that emerged from his time spent in the museum.
“It started out just wandering, as so many things do for me. I had never visited the old museum – I moved to Oxford during its multi-million pound redevelopment and was therefore quite curious when it reopened.”
The project deals with the unusual and sometimes uneasy relationships between visitors and the materials they encounter in the museum setting, and with our need to see ourselves in the art before us. As materials are silenced, cordoned off and abstracted, so the visitor is hushed by their grand surroundings, and chaperoned through a gallery according to a plan set before them by the curator.
“I then remembered reading about statues coming alive and people being turned into animals and objects in Ovid’s stories of metamorphosis. In one story Daphne becomes a tree and in another story Pyrrha and Deucalion create a new race of men from stones thrown on the ground.”
Finding beauty – not just in artworks themselves – but in the act of encountering art as well, this book is a testament to the visitor-art relationship.
Preserving moments of true and often tender connection between members of the public and their historical predecessors, the book lays before its reader a pictorial study of men and women finding identity, companionship, and solace in art.
“The inability to speak is a recurring theme in Ovid, and this also suited many of the shots. These pictures, too, are only echoes of what has happened in the museum.”
James photographed inside the museum for nearly two years, shooting thousands of images on black and white film. He financed the project himself through commercial photographic work and has now begun the process of making the photographs from the project into a high quality book. We have already made an edit and sequence for the photographs and secured support from our publisher – all we need now is the financial backing.
By committing to buy a copy of the book now, you help to ensure this project goes ahead.
James has been a photographer for over 20 years, starting out shooting for skateboarding magazines, including R.A.D and SK8 Action, and then going on to cover a variety of personal and documentary subjects. He has a wide repertoire, with projects including a documentation of Skate Parks, a series of images illustrating William Blake's poem ‘London’ and with clients ranging from the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama to Blenheim Palace and Oxford University.
Documentary photography is at the basis of all James' work, as borne out in Metamorphosis, and his work has been featured in various shows including the Format Festival in Derby. He has recently completed a series for Monmouthshire Museums on the last days of the Abergavenny Livestock Market. The ESPY Award 2014 Exhibition at the Elysium Gallery in Swansea included ones of the large prints from this project.
Now living in Abergavenny with a studio in Central London, James continues to pursue commercial, art and cultural projects with clients throughout the UK and beyond.
You can see more examples of James’ work at www.jamesahudson.info.
Responses to Metamorphosis
“James’ completed series Metamorphosis: Form and Change in the Ashmolean Museum made its public debut in a large-scale projection at a late night opening of the Ashmolean to celebrate the transformed Museum’s first birthday. The photographs are on display in the Ashmolean’s online gallery and it is with great joy that they are now being presented in this book, a timeless record of one of the most exciting redevelopments in recent British museum history.”- Susie Gault(Head of Communications, Royal Academy of Art; previously Press and Publicity Manager, Ashmolean Museum, 2004-2012)
“This extraordinary project shows that nature can imitate art. James Hudson catches visitors to the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford being influenced and transformed by the dramatic objects on view in subtle, often eerie ways. His photographs record a phenomenon as enchanting as the faces in clouds that so intrigued Hamlet – the inexplicable simulacra that show “there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy”. Magic.”- Heathcote Williams (poet, actor and dramatist)
“James Hudson's work in the Ashmolean reveals the true behaviour of those that visit and work there. His rich blacks, deep shadows and anti-classical composition are at variance with the architecture of the building. His images show a deeply creative mind at work, sensitively responding with an acuteness and passion that is rare in photographic collections.”- Rory Carnegie (multi award-winning photographer, philosopher and blogger)
“The black and white mode emphasises the rhythms of the moments James captures, and many of the figures, being dark and set against the light, merge with the sculptures, become like carved sculptures themselves.”- Paddy Summerfield (fine art photographer)
“James A. Hudson's intriguing images offer a truly haunting examination of the beautifully blurred boundaries of object, narrative and viewer.”- Hannah Clarkson (artist and Barbican Artworks Open 2014 prizewinner)
The Production Process
Published by The Bardwell Press (http://www.bardwell-press.co.uk), specialists in photobook printing.
- First edition
- Printed in duotone black
- Limited print run of 500
- Approx 70 B&W images
- 96 pages printed on 150gm matte art paper (or equivalent)
- Texts by Xa Sturgis, Peter Hamilton & James A. Hudson
A limited edition of 20 presentation copies of the book will also be printed. These will be cased and bound, with a presentation slipcase.
Once we have secured the required funding, we can begin printing the finished product. We have already agreed with the publishers at The Bardwell Press on the format of the book, and the photographs have already been scanned, hence the printing process can commence without delay. We intend that the books will be printed by the end of June 2015, and that we will have distributed them to our supporters by the end of August 2015.
Risks and challenges
As all of the photographs have already been compiled and are ready for printing, and we have already met with the publisher to finalise the print format, we don’t foresee any delay in the book’s production. We’ll keep you updated as we progress via James’ blog, http://www.jamesahudson.info/contact/news.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)