We were invited to take part in a Mellon Foundation Sawyer seminar series on 'Human creativity: ecologies and practices of invention' at the University of Oxford. The seminars, which were strongly based in practice and activity, involved international visiting scholars and Oxford academics from philosophy to music participating in artist-led interventions and working collectively through the mediations of objects selected from the University's museum collections. The first seminar 'Creative ecologies: conditioning inventiveness' took place at the Pitt Rivers Museum.

After three days looking in details at amazing and precious objects removed from their context, our session brought to the forefront the personal and very individual relationship to an object. Taking a step aside from the historical, aesthetic, practical or symbolic function of objects, our intervention looked at the role of objects in personal memories, even apparently insignificant objects.

The work took place on the Clore balcony inside the Pitt Rivers Museum, surrounded by Victorian cabinets full of artifacts from around the world. Through a process developed from theatrical performances, psychoanalysis techniques and Police methods to jolt witnesses memories, we took the participants on a journey through their own memories, exploring how much or how little imagination, fiction, and facts roll together into the memory of an object.

’Creative ecologies: conditioning inventiveness' was the first part of 'Human Creativity: Ecologies and practices of invention', a Mellon Sawyer Seminar Series organised by Professor Chris Gosden (Institute of Archaeology, University of Oxford), Professor Sarah Whatmore (School of Geography and Environment, University of Oxford), and Dr Charlotte Bates (School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford).


School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford