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ArchaeologyPart of Humanities

Inspiration from Bronze Age treasures

Published: 24 April 2012
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A major European archaeological project* centred around Bronze Age artefacts and led by the University of Southampton, has inspired contemporary craft students to produce a stunning range of items from jewellery to ceramics.

Project leader Dr Jo Sofaer has been working with the Crafts Council to spread the word about creative designs made by Bronze Age people up to 3,000 years ago. She gave the students an introductory seminar, explaining more about the archaeology of craft, and invited them to handle and examine various items from the period. Course leaders at the universities and colleges then organised field trips to prehistoric sites and Bronze Age museum collections, to produce student-led blogs for the exchange of ideas, develop new topics for critical writing assignments exploring the role of the past in contemporary craft and produce archaeologically inspired items for themselves.

“Bronze Age craftsmen and women have left us many important artefacts,” says Jo. “They developed exciting new materials and intricate designs which spread throughout Europe; many of these items can be seen today in our leading galleries and museums. Our project enables us to bring their work to a wider audience.”

More than 150 contemporary craft students from the University of Wolverhampton, Birmingham Institute of Art and Design, Manchester Metropolitan University, University of Brighton and De Montfort University got involved with the Creativity and Craft Production in the Middle and Late Bronze Age (CinBA) project. The work of 14 of them is included in an online exhibition curated by Professor Janis Jefferies from Goldsmiths University of London.

“The online exhibition tells the story of how the Bronze Age objects have inspired young craftspeople today,” explains Janis. “What we can see is a diverse cornucopia of intriguing, classically produced and hybrid creations that reflect contemporary issues and concerns but are inspired by the creative flowering of their experience of European heritage.”

See: www.cinba.net/exhibition


*Creativity and Craft Production in the Middle and Late Bronze Age (CinBA) is a major international project funded by HERA (Humanities in the European Research Area). Led by the University of Southampton, it involves partners from the Universities of Cambridge and Trondheim, the National Museum of Denmark, the Natural History Museum of Vienna, Zagreb Archaeological Museum, Lejre Archaeological Park (Sagnlandet) and the Crafts Council.

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