Research and Inspiration / MK Gallery

Final Major project, Inventivity / Level 6, Visual Research and Inspiration

Back in 2014 the MK Gallery in Milton Keynes held the ‘Treasures in MK’ exhibit which explored the theme  and layout of a cabinet of curiosities. A collection of objects and artwork where the layout of items and history of the work tell a story. The collection as art and visual communication. Each object, with its own history used to communicate different themes and narratives within the much larger collection.  Im a bit sad that I didn’t get a chance to see the exhibition myself in 2014, but luckily the MK Gallery have a great archive feature with detailed information and photography to give me an idea of how the exhibition was created and experienced at the time. Though its always better to visit exhibitions when you can!

“A remarkable cabinet of curiosities comprising 200 historical and modern artworks and objects borrowed from 60 collections near Milton Keynes, including Old Masters Dürer, Hogarth and Millais; Modern Masters Matisse, Picasso and Warhol plus iconic classics such as an Aston Martin DB4.”

The first thing that really strikes me about this exhibition is the taxidermy birds displayed on the podium at the centre. This natural animal, captured in time and displayed at the centre of man made creations (drawings and paintings). This display helps to create a contrast between the natural world and man made creations.

The exhibition is also celebrating the history of the area around it, Milton Keynes. Visually communicating different stories by choosing to display items that have their own myths and history along side artwork that could compliment or conflict the stories or themes.

“Instead of focusing on a specific theme or period in time, the exhibition celebrates the extraordinary variety of tastes and interests in the area. As such, the exhibition is a collection of collections; it is also an exhibition about collecting.”

Take a look at the exhibition guide here.


The exhibition might have ended in 2014 but you can still have a look at the archive on the MK Gallery website here.


Research and Inspiration / Eleanor Shakespeare

Final Major project, Inventivity / Level 6, Visual Research and Inspiration

Eleanor Shakespeare is an illustrator and designer based in South London and creates beautiful pieces using photomontage image making. She had had work published for the Guardian, Variety, The Washington Post, The Globe & Mail, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, Politico, Waitrose Magazine, Easyjet Traveller, Therapy Today, Times Higher Education, BBC History amongst others. Eleanor Shakespeare has also had her illustrations published in books such as ‘Cut, Paste, Create’ and ‘Stormy Seas’. Her style of illustration is magical and really speaks to me as an illustrator and designer.

‘Stormy Seas’ is a book detailing the stories of young refugees risking their lives to reach safety is not new. For hundreds of years, people have left behind family, friends, and all they know in hope of a better life. This book presents five true stories about young people who lived through the harrowing experience of setting sail in search of asylum. and is beautifully illustrated throughout by Eleanor Shakespeare.

Eleanor Shakespeare uses a combination of illustration, photomontage with contemporary and vintage images to create through provoking and inspiring images. and her work has been a huge inspiration for my animation for my FMP brand ‘Bizarre Bazaar’. I would like to create a stop motion animation using a series of vintage and ‘found’ images as well as my own illustrations to tell the story of Cabinets of Curiosities and of my own creation ‘Bizarre Bazaar’. Looking at the use and composition of Eleanor’s images have really helped me to shape my own ideas and think outside of the box!

Research and Inspiration / The Natural History Museum

Final Major project, Inventivity / Level 6, Visual Research and Inspiration

As I research for my FMP one of the places I couldn’t miss is the Natural History Museum. The Natural History Museum is one of the largest collections of Entomology, Zoology, Palaeontology and Mineralogy in the world. Cabinets of Curiosities are based on a deep desire to understand the world around us, through collecting natural and man made wonders and the layouts that tell stories through these objects. I have always had a love of collecting and the items I collect play a large role in inspiring and driving my creative practice forward. Which is part of the reason that I have chosen to focus these Cabinets of curiosities as my FMP theme.


Within the Natural History Museum you can view thousands of natural collections from across the globe which tell the story of the human quest for knowledge and understanding of the world we inhabit. I think this need to know more about the world is inherently human and part of what makes our species so special. My favourite collection is the Entomology exhibit which is the oldest, largest and most important collection of insects in the world today.

Coleoptera specimens

“Gathered over 300 years, these specimens are key to telling the history of collecting, the science of taxonomy and the human desire to understand the natural world”

One of the great things about the Natural History Museum is once you’ve visited and gained an understanding of the Museum curation and displays, you can further explore through their online archives. With new technology today, if your looking for something specific, its literally at your fingertips.

Part of what I love about the Museum is the huge range of taxidermy on show. Taxidermy gives us a unique understanding of the range of animal life on Earth and can really bring animals you may not ordinarily be able to view to life. For those living in the 18th and 19th centuries taxidermy was a way of understanding how animal life was linked, how their bodies functioned and it was an educational and scientific tool. Taxidermy is also a way of preserving animals for future generations, literally freezing a moment in time.


Hein van Grouw is one of the Curators for the Natural History Museum and explains the use of taxidermy. He says, “For a lot of people it feels old-fashioned, but taxidermy is a vital tool that allows us to teach about the huge range of life on Earth. Good taxidermists can display animals in anatomically correct positions, so that they come to life before your eyes.”

“We haven’t found a better way do that yet, even with all the technology available to us. Having the real thing in front of you will always make more of an impact than a plastic model, digital reconstruction or photo.”




Research and Inspiration / Hunterian Museum

Final Major project, Inventivity / Level 6, Visual Research and Inspiration

The Hunterian Museum is part of the Royal College of Surgeons and can be found in Holborn. Inside the imposing building is one of the largest collections of anatomical, pathological and zoological specimens. The collection is created by the founder of scientific surgery John Hunter (1728-1793) and is absolutely astounding. There are over 3,500 specimens, fossils, drawings and paintings of animals as well as humans. The collection is both morbid and fascinating.


The Hunterian collections include the skeleton of the 7ft 7in tall ‘Irish giant’ Charles Byrne, a collection of surgical instruments dating from the seventeenth century, carbolic sprays used by Lister, the pioneer of antiseptic surgery, the tooth of a megatherium (an extinct giant sloth) donated by Charles Darwin, a dodo skeleton – and Winston Churchill’s dentures.

I visited this collection for a few different reasons, first, I am incredibly interested in Scientific specimens, zoological and botanical illustration, especially Victorian (and older!) collections. So on a personal level this museum is fantastic, full of natural wonders, curiosities and advancements in science and our knowledge of the natural world. Secondly, My final major project centres around the theme of Cabinets of Curiosities so this museum is a great way to view collections of the natural world and scientific specimens. It’s a great way for me to piece together exactly what I want this collection of work to be and how I want to display it in order to tell my own story.

There are some big differences between the display of specimens here and in other museums, such as Victor Wynd’s Cabinet of Curiosities. There is a lot of thought into the categorisation of specimens here, there is a definite home for each small collection within the wider collection of specimens. Specimens are shown in a chronological order showing the advancements of scientific study. Each specimen is clearly labelled and explained shown in clear glass display cabinets.

The Hunterian Museum is closing on the 20th of May 2017 till 2020 for restoration and renovation so theres not long left to visit if you haven’t been here yet! Have a look at the website here!

Research and Inspiration / The Last Tuesday Society

Final Major project, Inventivity / Level 6, Visual Research and Inspiration

As part of the research and exploration for my Final Major Project I’ve been visiting different collections of natural forms around London. One of the places I’ve been most excited to visit is The Last Tuesday Society and Victor Wynd’s Cabinet of Curiosities. The museum can be found in Bethnal Green, a few minutes walk from the underground station and its beautifully bizarre.


As you walk into The Last Tuesday Society you are immediately surrounded by taxidermy animals in the bar area. The bar is inspired by prohibition, theres plenty of cocktails and a whole list of absinth’s to try! Go down the staircase into the museum and cabinet of curiosities and things get a whole lot weirder (In a good way). The Museum is filled wall to wall with strange and unusual natural and man made curiosities. From the doodles and paintings of prison inmates to a two-headed cat and even Amy Winehouse’s Poo in a jar. This museum doesn’t even attempt to categorise its thousands of objects, everything is placed together on the shelves and tells its own twisted stories, much like the wunderkabinett’s of the past.

“By placing the rare and the beautiful on the same plane as the commonplace, banal & amusing this museum seeks not to educate but to subvert, to show the world not in a grain of sand, but in a Hackney basement.”

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Ive looked at this museum because it is the best example of a modern Cabinet of Curiosities. Its where the unusual and extraordinary natural curiosities of the past meet the kooky collections of the present and future. Fossils of extinct animals sitting alongside McDonalds happy meal toys collected through the 90’s. The lack of categorisation is important, Cabinets of Curiosities, attempted to tell stories about the wonders and oddities of the natural world through collections of weird and amazing objects. It was an attempt of understanding the world by collecting and self categorisation in a time where there was very little scientific categorisation of the natural world. As we have developed as a society these weird collections are bound to be influenced by the man made world around us more and more. Basically people are pretty weird.

“The Museum has no overreaching aim beyond the theft of it’s visitors time and the hope that it will provide amusement by return & hopes to fill the vacuum between what the establishment elite believes is worthy of worship & what really exists in the world.”

Check out the Website here!


Katie Scott / Artist Research

Final Major project, Inventivity / Level 6, Visual Research and Inspiration

One of the illustrators that I love following is Katie Scott. I first fell in love with her work on the cover of Bombay Bicycle Club’s album ‘A Different Type of Fix’ and I’ve been hooked ever since. Her work is influenced by old scientific drawing and botany so when researching for my FMP idea, a series of wok exploring Cabinets of Curiosities she was one of the first artists I looked at.

One of my favourite series of illustrations is from the ‘Animalium’ postcard book. Each card features beautifully, detailed illustrations of various plants, insects and animals.  The collections of animals really appealed to me for a few reasons, First, they are visually stunning and I love the level of detail in each illustration. Secondly, I love scientific illustrations and scientific specimen collections and this is a theme I have chosen to explore through my Cabinet of Curiosities theme for my FMP. I especially love these “collections” of animals displayed together inside a bell jar.

Part of the reason I am so drawn to these illustrations is the influence of older scientific illustrations, especially those from the 18th and 19th centuries, when we were still unsure of how to categorise all these different specimens. In a similar way, Cabinets of curiosities, were small collections of extraordinary objects which, like today’s museums, attempted to categorise and tell stories about the wonders and oddities of the natural world.


Example of a Cabinet of Curiosities from

Check out this brilliant little video of Katie Scott talking about her work and process

and if check out her website here!

Research and Inspiration / The National Gallery

Visits, Visual Research and Inspiration

Today I decided to get out from behind my desk, enjoy the sunshine and explore London in search of some inspiration.

One of the places that I always enjoy visiting is the National Gallery. Founded in 1824, The National Gallery houses a collection of over 2,300 paintings dating from the mid-13th century to the early 20th century. Like many of London’s iconic museums and Galleries its permanent collections are free to the public. There are many things I love about the National Gallery, if you visit at the right time of day (early morning or late afternoon) it is pretty quiet and peaceful, just a few steps away from the hustle and bustle of central London. There are loads of benches inside and its a great place to sit with a coffee and sketchbook and think, or just wonder round and take some inspiration from artists like Vincent van Gogh, Turner, Cézanne, Monet and Rembrandt.

Trafalgar Square from The National Gallery. Jade Conlin, 10/04/17

Another thing I like about The National Gallery is the general layout of collections. There is a system to getting across the gallery and find a specific painting or artist. Most collections are arranged in chronological order starting with 1200-1500 and the layout of rooms guide you through time with the final collections from 1700-1930. There are also rooms where you can find specific artists like Claude and Turner, Artists of certain countries like the Netherlands, France and Italy or artist movements such as Monet and the Impressionists.

Despite its size, The National Gallery is very easy to navigate. Each room is curated to tell a different story through the chosen artists and artwork on display.

Here are some of my favourite photographs taken on my visit today

One of my Favourite paintings I found today is ‘The Battle of Jemappes’ created in 1821,
Emile-Jean-Horace Vernet. This HUGE painting is one of the group ‘Four battle scenes’.


“On 6 November 1792 Dumouriez defeated the Austrians under the Duke of Saxe-Teschen and Clerfayt at Jemappes, near Mons. This led to the French occupation of Belgium. This is one of four battle scenes painted by Vernet for the duc d’Orléans (later King Louis-Philippe) depicting French successes in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars.”

I am blown away by the level of detail in this painting, each time you look at it you spot another detail of the battle. The changing light of the painting from the bright left hand corner across the moody, cloudy sky and burning flames on the right give a sense of a windy day with movement in the air and adds to the ambience and atmosphere of the artwork.

Here are some close up photographs I took of the painting:

I was also happy to not be the only person wondering around with a sketchbook in hand and could help snapping a picture of this gentleman (with permission 🙂 ) sketching one of his favourites.

If you want to check out The National Gallery website, I’ve linked it here!

And of corse once you leave the National Gallery you can make your way onto whitehall and see The Horse Guards Parade a fantastic example of tradition and military pageantry at its finest!


Horse Guards Parade – Jade Conlin, 10/04/2017


Visits / Museum of Brands

Visits, Visits and Talks, Visual Research and Inspiration

One of my favourite visits so far was to the Museum of Brands just a few minutes walk away from Portobello Market and Ladbroke Grove in west London. This Museum is a treasure trove of brands and advertising dating back to the 1800’s. As you walk through the museum you are guided through each decade of advertising, from Victorian brands and pre World War 1 all the way through to modern day Britain with the final wall showing memorabilia from the popular boy band One Direction! (seriously..)

The museum as created by Robert Opie who saw the need to unravel the fascinating story of how consumer products and promotion had evolved since the Victorian era. By 1975 Robert had enough material to hold his own exhibition, The Pack Age, at the Victoria & Albert Museum. After a sixteen-year career in market research, he opened the first museum devoted to the history of packaging and advertising in Gloucester in 1984 and later opened his current museum in Ladbroke Grove.

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“I was struck by the idea that I should save the packaging which would otherwise surely disappear forever. The collection offers evidence of a dynamic commercial system that delivers thousands of desirable items from all corners of the world, a feat arguably more complex than sending man to the Moon, but one still taken for granted.” 

This museum really reflects how different world events such as war, changes in political powers, exhibitions, television and marketing trends also effect the way we advertise products to the public. Its truly a fascination view of consumer trends over a century within Britain and shows how public opinions have also changed as we have more and more information at our fingertips.

Check out the Museums website here! they also have some beautiful scrapbooks of advertising for each decade in their gift shop (Im such a sucker for a gift shop!) I couldn’t help but grab myself one from the 1960’s!


Screen Printing / CASS Open Day

Projects, Visual Research and Inspiration

Last Thursday we had an open day at the CASS. It’s a chance to show potential students our creative hub and tell them a bit about the CASS, the course and why they might want to study here.

Me, João and Lisa spent the day creating an edition of 150 screen prints with the very talented Alistair Hall of We Made This.

screen prints are made by using a fine mesh material fixed to a wooden frame. A stencil is placed under the screen and ink forced through the stencil onto the material below creating the finished print. I find screen printing is best for vibrant blocks of colour and for creating large numbers of original work so perfect for creating this edition. Screen print is also a really hands on form of printing so would be fun for potential students to try too.

When screen printing multiple colours it tends to be best to work from the lightest colour to the darkest. The design we were working with has 3 layers of colour and shape, the lightest layer is a yellow diamond and then a vibrant blue circle and finally a magenta circle.

To start our prints, we had to first create stencils for each layer of colour, we used paper stencils with each shape cut into the center and taped this to the screen. Once the ink goes through the stencil it will create a clean block of colour. Because we wanted the prints to be consistent we used a template of the design under a sheet of acetate to check the print would be in the correct place on the page, we then used tape and paper to create a guide for each piece of paper we wanted to print onto.

We used this same process for each layer which helped us to create very consistent set of prints. We also used this process of using acetate and a template to check the position of the text before stamping the silver “LOVE” above the printed design and “PRINT” below it.



Oh Gee, Pie! / Design and Visualisation

On Your Marks / Oh Gee, Pie!, Visual Research and Inspiration

During last Fridays lesson we started to look at design and visualisation by creating case studies of different design and brand elements that help to bring a concept to life. In a sense getting inside the head of the designer that created it and looking at all of the key elements that create a strong brand. A vital part of this is exploration, observation and analysis

“Visualisation aims to bring key ideas and narratives to life. Artwork and design play a key role in this process by placing primary design materials into realistic environments”

As my main focus is café and bakeries as I continue researching for my brief with Oh Gee, Pie! I looked at local places in the area around the uni (Luckily East London is a fantastic place to find great cafés!) I started my search there.

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One of the first places I visited was Exmouth Coffee Co, they had a really rustic feel to their establishment, which I loved. They made use of wooden menus and boards re enforcing the rustic, country feel to the café. They also sold different coffees in pastel coloured paper packages and the back wall was completely covered in small drawings and messages left by customers and stuck to the wall with their own branded stickers.


Bellboi is another small café with a selection of coffees and cakes. What first struck me about this hidden gem was the outside if the shop, which is beautifully illustrated (I’m told the artwork is by a local artist) and the matching coffee cups with the same design! A great way of advertising the café and keeping a consistent and cohesive design concept.


My favourite place was definitely Dark Sugars Chocolates, as you walk through the door you are greeted by a beautifully illustrated botanical menu on a chalk board. The design concept for the shop is definitely natural with the importance on the cocoa plant (one of two shops on Brick Lane BTW J) The walls are different shades of brown and gold and just ooze luxury whilst the handcrafted chocolates are displayed in enormous sea shells on wooden stands. I was also thrilled to see artwork on display and for sale by local artists in the area!


Chocolate, coffee and artwork… What more could you want?!