When I was still a student, I had a friend who was studying archaeology. One of their main topics was the Stone Age and they would wax poetic about how astounding the objects are, how fascinating the history is and I would sit and listen with polite disinterest. It’s fair to say that the Stone Age was not a period of history I was particularly interested in. So imagine my excitement when I was asked by the magnificent Jess (Collections and Learning Curator) to curate a Stone Age exhibition for the Castle.
Now I’m not ungrateful. The chance to actually curate an exhibition is every Trainees dream come true, but I won’t lie that the topic in general did not inspire me much. Furthermore, having avoided anything related to prehistory whilst at university, my knowledge of the period was zero to none. Suffice to say, I had a lot of research to do.
Now for those eagle-eyed readers, they may have noticed that I wrote that the Stone Age was a period of history I did not find interesting. As in, past tense. My previous disinterest has been washed away and I am now reborn; a Stone Age history fanatic if you will. After reading numerous articles about prehistoric art, the evolution of the human species and the development of culture and community I tackled my exhibition planning with new-found enthusiasm.
Planning an exhibition is not easy. It requires detailed research, knowledge of collections, patience and compromise. Not every object can be displayed and narrowing down our vast Stone Age collection was…difficult. The fragility of the objects has to be considered too. Any object has to be assessed to determine whether it is fit for display. Thankfully, stone tools are pretty resilient, although pottery can be difficult to display. After months of writing and rewriting exhibition text (handhelds for extra information about the Stone Age as an era, object labels, flavour text – the whole works) and pestering Jess for help and guidance (sorry Jess, we got there in the end!) my exhibition ‘Surviving Stone’ is complete .
On display in Colchester Castle until Thursday 14 July, pop along and see all my hard work if you happen to be in Colchester! I am immensely proud of what I have achieved and am looking forward to planning my next exhibition.