The Kent Medway Museums National Portfolio Organisation Partnership (KMM NPO) are seeking proposals from musicians, song writers, sound artists, poets, and those working with sound to create new audio artworks to be accessioned as permanent artefacts within the museum collections. ‘Ten Songs for a Lar’ is an ambitious new commission searching for multiple audio interpretations of a bronze ‘Lar’ – a household god figurine (dated circa. 200 AD) held in the collections at The Guildhall Museum, Rochester, UK. Successful artists will receive £1,000 per selected track (inclusive of VAT). The deadline for submissions is: 15th June 12pm (BST)
The KMM NPO is a group of four museums (The Historic Dockyard Chatham, Canterbury Museums & Galleries, Guildhall Museum Rochester and Tunbridge Wells Museum & Gallery) funded by Arts Council England (ACE) to work together to deliver excellence in the use of collections and to inspire learning, creativity and wellbeing to existing and new audiences in their communities.
This commission is part of the KMM NPO’s ambition to produce artworks that encourage audiences to think about ‘What is collecting? What makes a display? Which stories are being told at museums and how?’ Museum objects, often grouped in predefined, restricted spaces sit silently, sparsely captioned, awaiting the attention of further, deeper, exploration. Museums do not just collect, care and exhibit objects; they categorise, contextualise and interpret objects to fulfil their own, and their intended audiences, requirements. The many stories behind these often human made objects, and the emotive connections they intend to make, can therefore become difficult to obtain.
The KMM NPO is looking to appoint 10 musicians or artists working with sound to create individual, thought provoking, emotive works to interpret a Lar figurine - an inherently ‘traditional’ museum object. Without the need for images, physical presence, and perhaps even words, we want to know: ‘what does this object say to you, and what stories do you wish to give voice to, and bring to life, through music and sound?’.
The Guildhall Lar is a bronze figurine believed to date from around 200AD. It was found in March 1888 near Quarry House, Frindsbury, UK. When discovered, the object was originally thought to be a depiction of Cupid though has later been recognised as a Lar – a relatively rare find in the UK.
A Lar (or plural, Lares), including the one from The Guildhall Museum (Rochester, Kent, UK), are particularly mysterious objects. They are primarily household guardian deities from ancient Rome believed to observe, protect, and influence all that happens within the boundaries of their location (home). Statues of domestic Lares were placed at the table during family meals; their presence, cult, and blessing seem to have been required at all important family events.
Although there is much that is still unknown with The Guildhall Museum Lar, these objects, are often depicted as dancing, protective forces. Ovid (Roman poet) describes how these deities are often described as Muta (the speechless one) and are required to carry out their safeguarding activities in silence.
Inspired by the Guildhall Lar, the commission will comprise of 10 separate audio responses. The 10 audio responses will:
Through the process of this commission the KMM NPO also intends to achieve broader aims of:
As our museums and galleries are currently closed, we strongly recommend familiarising yourself with themes and connotations significant to the understanding and interpreting of Lares deities. Please read the document attached (see, 'Further Reading), investigate online resources and keep a record of your references.
Please include the following in your application:
1. An expression of interest which includes:
a) Contact details including any relevant website address
b) Artist statement and bio or CV (maximum 2 pages A4)
c) Up to 4 examples of recent, related work. This may be in the format of supporting attachments or links with brief descriptions (up to 150 words).
2) Artists proposal which details how the proposed new work would meet the brief of the commission (up to 500 words) and a maximum of 4 accompanying files, sketches and references in support of the proposed new work. Please also include the research references behind the concept where appropriate.
3) Draft schedule and budget including how the work will be recorded/produced and delivered. Please include a proposed timeline for the production of the work and an estimated date for delivery of the completed work. If you intend to work with others please detail their involvement. All costs must be covered by the £1000 budget per commissioned artist.
Applications should be submitted as a single pdf, no larger than 10MB, to: Luke.Currall@TunbridgeWells.gov.uk
- Deadline for submissions: 12pm (BST) 15th June 2020
- Proposal shortlist: 18th June 2020
- Proposal assessed by panel: 22nd June 2020
- Appointment of successful applicants: 26th June 2020
- Delivery of the works commences from 10th July 2020
Note: Individual works will be scheduled once a month over a 10 month period, selected in accordance to timelines provided within proposals and the readiness of material available. Please state the soonest date you estimate your work to be complete.
This commission is for the value of £1,000 (inclusive of VAT) per selected artist. This amount is to cover: artists’ fees; research, production and delivery of the work.
Payment will be made in 2 instalments:
i) on the award of the commission
ii) delivery of the work
Selected tracks will be accessioned into the museum collections as permanent artefacts and cared for accordingly. The Kent Medway Museum Partners shall own the selected proposals in their entirety including Intellectual Property Rights and all digital and physical assets comprising the work. Moral Rights (Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988) remain vested in the artist. Performance and reuse of accessioned tracks can used by artists through agreement with the museums and credited as required. The commissioning of this audio artwork is not intended for commercial purposes.
Artist proposals should explore any of the potential narratives that the artist feels personally resonates with them and their creative practice.
Stories could draw their inspiration from (though should not be limited to) common themes associated with Lares: antiquity; mythology; religion; spirituality; devotion; piety; paganism; story telling; oral tradition; ritual and offerings; animism; sculpture; dance; movement; loss; spirits; the supernatural and protective/guardian forces; community; family; home; silence. Think about the message you want to tell, from what perspective, how it relates to the object, and how best your proposed approach achieves its intention.
Shortlisted applications will be selected by the Tunbridge Wells ‘Art Commission Selection Panel’ comprising artists, curators, commission specific specialists and members of the local community. The panel will score proposals in regards to:
If you have any questions about the proposal or would like to arrange a site visit please contact NPO Cultural Projects Manager: Luke.Currall@TunbridgeWells.gov.uk
· Object number
Small solid cast bronze (copper alloy) figurine; depicts standing male, presumably a deity (Jove/ Jupiter?); probably a 'lar' (pl 'lares'), or household god; traditional Roman households owned at least one protective Lares-figure, housed in a shrine or wall-niche; they were placed at table during family meals and banquets, and also functioned as divine witnesses at important family occasions, such as marriages, births and adoptions; the shrine provided a religious hub for social and family life; this figure is naked except for draped cloak over arms & groin; wears Phrygian cap? or curled hair?; the hands are empty - & formerly held something. Ref: Arch.Cant.18 (1889), p.189. Found in March 1888 near Quarry House, Frindsbury during extension of the chalk quarry, and recorded by A A Arnold & George Payne.
· Production period
Roman, 3rd century AD
· Object name
height: 130 mm
The Rochester Guildhall, built in 1687, is one of the finest civic buildings in Kent, and home to the Guildhall Museum. Founded in honour of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, the museum tells the story of Medway through lively, interactive displays of its wide-ranging collections. Highlights include magnificent plaster ceilings, newly restored and re-gilded weathervane in the form of a fully rigged 18th century warship, a full-size reconstruction of part of a Medway prison hulk, the Dickens Discovery Room and the Rochester “Riverside Eye” camera interactive.
Tunbridge Wells Borough Council Collections comprises 60,000 objects and shares the special story of the Borough through fantastic collections of local history, natural history, Tunbridge ware, costume & textiles, toys and games, photography, folk art, fine art and more. The story of Kent’s spa town is featured throughout the collection, highlighting stories from the decadence of the manor house to the Spartan lifestyle of the humble hop-picker. With support from Heritage Lottery Fund, Arts Council England, Kent County Council and Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, the museum, library, art gallery and adjacent Adult Education Centre are currently closed to be redeveloped into a new cultural and learning hub.
The Historic Dockyard Chatham is the most complete Dockyard of the Age of Sail in the world. Set in an impressive 80 acre complex, it is one Britain’s leading maritime heritage attractions with three historic warships, a working Victorian ropery, historic lifeboat collection, dockyard railway, interactive galleries, Hearts of Oak digital theatre and magnificent collections from two national museums. It offers unrivalled opportunities to explore ships that helped shape the world and the stories of the people who built them.
Canterbury Museums & Galleries is home to The Beaney House of Art & Knowledge and Canterbury Roman Museum. Their unique collections cover a broad spectrum of material encompassing: art, archaeology and world collections brought to Canterbury by intrepid explorers and collectors; the natural world; the rich heritage of Canterbury and the social history of East Kent. With learning at the heart of what they do, their collection-led activities are designed to stimulate curiosity, imagination and creativity.
Although very little information currently exists on file for this particular object, the following links provide additional details on the circumstances and context of its original discovery:
100 Objects Kent:
Medway Council Database: