Option 5 (Archive/ Imagined Museum)

We’re in for a musical treat at this year’s Unit X exhibition launch!

Peter Byrom-Smith has composed 19 new short pieces (between 30 secs – 2 mins) for each second year student who chose the animation project within Option 5 (Out of the Archive/Imagined Museum). The Option 5 project is all about revealing narratives within archives. Liverpool orchestra are currently rehearsing the pieces and a 12-piece orchestra will perform these specially composed pieces live during a half-hour set at the Unit X exhibition.

We caught up with staff member Eleanor Mulhearn to find out more….

Words: Eleanor Mulhearn

The project began with musician Peter Byrom-Smith meeting students and visiting two archives with them, that of the entomology department at Manchester Museum, and MMU’s very own Special Collections. Second year students working on the project are from BA (Hons) Illustration with Animation, BA (Hons) Creative Multimedia and BA (Hons) Fine-Art Curating.

At Manchester Museum students went behind-the–scenes to view a collection of insects selected by curator, Dmitri Logunov, (chosen for the potential of the specimens to unfold narrative responses). These narratives focused, amongst others, on mimicry, pollution and climate change affecting insects. Dmitri has since been helping students with their ongoing research. The second archive visit was made to MMU special Collections’ Victorian ephemera. Curators Jeremy Parrett and Louise Clennell introduced the group to the Harry Page Victorian scrapbooks, focusing on specific items linking thematically and materially to entomology and animation – items such as the exquisitely detailed silhouette books, the Butterfly Book and botanical sketchbooks.

Following the visits, the student group discussed their ideas with Pete and each student outlined their project idea. Responses were broad, ranging from concern for habitat loss, to native American Indian narratives including grasshoppers, to Victorian feminist literature. Pete suggested which instruments might work best for the tone of each of these individual projects and then went away to write them. Students are currently working to the music, to produce individual animations to be projected with the live performance.

“I took the opportunity from the first archive visit to arrange another one having chosen my narrative. The head of the entomology department at Manchester museum Dmitri picked out some interesting specimens of South American grasshoppers and crickets to draw and base my characters on. Composer Peter Byrom-Smith composed a beautiful 1 minute piece for my project proposal ideas, which fits with my narrative perfectly.” (Eva Akesson, Second Year, Illustration with Animation Student)

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