Work by Pamela Schilderman. Photograph by the artist.

Fool’s Gold is a new exhibition by artists Hayley Harrison and Pamela Schilderman which opened recently at Rugby Art Gallery and Museum. Open until 14 March, the exhibition explores issues of ecology and natural resources. We spoke to Pamela to find out more.

Installation view of Fool’s Gold. Photograph by Jamie Gray.

How has the exhibition come about? 
We are both members of an organisation called Matt Roberts Arts and got to know each other by attending various networking events. Hayley approached me about doing a two-person exhibition as there are crossovers between our practices. We both wanted to make new work that highlighted our ecological concerns so when Rugby Art Gallery and Museum came on board, we got support from Arts Council England and Rugby Borough Council.

Can you tell me more about the relationship between your works and Hayley’s?
We both recycle or use organic materials but in different ways; Hayley takes the urban waste materials she finds like crisp packets and turns them into sculptures that “examine our disconnection with nature”. I, on the other hand, see myself as a kind of alchemist, often recycling components from former artworks or mixing everyday and natural materials to create metamorphic reactions.

Work by Hayley Harrison in Fool’s Gold. Photograph by Jamie Gray.

What can audiences expect from the exhibition?
To be surprised, inspired and encouraged to consider our impact on nature by re-thinking the question of value. Fool’s Gold presents the viewer with two different yet complimentary thought-provoking perspectives on nature versus consumerism.

Can you say more about the importance that climate change and resources have upon your practice?
One area of my practice involves transforming everyday or waste materials into something extraordinary. It is all about perception and part of that involves inviting the viewer to question the value of materials. I bring into focus the disregarded, elevating them to the status of art. Punctum and Respiracao were made from paper punched holes, Almas from cotton wool, Allusions from polystyrene balls and Needle from toilet paper and natural pigments. Metamorphosis is present in the other cyclical area of my practice where I recycle old artworks transforming them completely into new ones. Bula Matari became the Harold Thomas Collection and has now became Crystal Clear and Wishing Well.

Work by Pamela Schilderman. Photograph by the artist.

How will the live art installation unfold and how can audiences get involved?
The idea is to take advantage of Rugby Art Gallery and Museum’s glass fronted foyer and attract people who haven’t visited the gallery before to come in. We’ll be creating a coffee cup tower that will grow throughout the exhibition and working on site on certain days so people can interact with us. There will be a time-lapse film and plenty of social media coverage; we’re really hoping to get the local community behind us and the council have been very supportive. People will be able to drop-off their coffee cups and make their pledges for us to incorporate them into the tower.

Learn more about the exhibition and the programme of planned events here.

Fool’s Gold is a new exhibition by artists Hayley Harrison and Pamela Schilderman which opened recently at Rugby Museum and Art Gallery. We spoke to Pamela to find out more.

Casket by Pamela Schilderman

Annabel Clarke speaks to artist Pamela Schilderman about her work in Leamington Spa Museum & Art Gallery‘s Spotlight display.

Schilderman’s project seeks to challenge accepted traditions of the self-portrait by using forensic identifiers to present an alternative view of identity through scientific processes.


Casket by Pamela Schilderman


In Casket you’ve looked at the idea of a portrait forensically. What was the inspiration for this?

A visit to the BP Portrait Award made me want to challenge the idea of a portrait as a face or body. Then the first thing that came to mind was to use the thumbprint as the oldest, most recognisable form of identification. At the time there was a lot in the news related to identity and biometric technology which led me to consider the possibilities of a forensic portrait.

Did you have to learn any new processes in order to make your scientific self-portrait?

Yes, for the hair piece I had to learn how to basket weave. I met with the jewellery curator at Nottingham Castle Museum who kindly showed me their impressive collection of Victorian hair jewellery. She gave me some instructions from the Ladies Companion (1850), which I tried very hard to follow.

The piece feels very Victorian in its display, reminiscent of memento mori. Why did you choose this way of displaying the piece?

I wanted to incorporate history in Casket in order to juxtapose past and present. By linking each forensic identifier with a precious element and showcasing them in a jewellery box I intended to reinforce identity as precious. The title, as well as the piece, is deliberately ambiguous, to offer the dual interpretation of death/life.

You received a France Brodeur Young Artist Award in 2016 to help with the development of the work. How did this funding help you? Would you recommend others in the region apply for this funding?

Getting the France Brodeur Young Artist Award has been amazing! Thanks to their support I got to collaborate with three makers from the midlands and I did learn a lot from them about new materials. I would definitely recommend other artists to apply for this opportunity as the FBYAA not only support a project but do so, in the context of the development of your practice.

Casket has been displayed at New Walk Museum in Leicester before coming to Leamington Spa, are there plans to show it elsewhere?

Casket will go to Maidstone Museum & Art Gallery in Kent, from 16 October – 16 December 2017 and I hope to show it in other museums next year.

What else are you working on?

At the moment I am working on a new forensic piece which again, will be an alternative self-portrait. I am also developing a mixed-media piece on the human brain, exploring the relationship between emotions and identity on which I hope to collaborate with a scientist.

Schilderman’s work will be on display at Leamington Spa Art Gallery & Museum until 17 September 2017 and she will be giving at an artist talk at the gallery at 1pm on 8 September 2017.

Annabel Clarke speaks to artist Pamela Schilderman about her work in Leamington Spa Museum & Art Gallery’s Spotlight display.