Nottingham Under Siege

Nottingham Castle Museum and Art Gallery is amidst a beautiful battle  – it is being invaded by an army of 10,000 ceramic beetles climbing into crevices and winding their way around the building.

Artist Anna Collette Hunt has really pulled out all the stops to make this solo exhibition look so amazing and I’m thrilled that Anna invited Dappled Sky to include the exhibition on the site. These photos have all been supplied by Anna, but I hope to make it over to see the exhibition in the flesh before it closes in January.

Anna Collette Hunt 1

Anna received a first class honours degree in Decorative Arts from Nottingham Trent University in 2009and in 2010 Anna was nominated for the Grand Prize at the Nottingham Castle Open exhibition and also won the Solo Exhibition Prize.

The exhibition is entitled Stirring the Swarm and tells a curiously dark tale inspired by the collection of Entomology in the Natural History collection at Wollaton Hall, Nottingham. The viewer is lured into this macabre story as they find these enchanted insects, gathered in the Castle after their journey from Wollaton Hall. The rich palette of gold, green, blue, brown and cream pays homage to the  flocked wall paper of Wollaton Hall, the pattern of which has even sprouted on some of their wings.

Anna has a preoccupation with historic houses and after many visits to Wollaton Hall, she found herself drawn to the fragility of the aging beetles within the entomology collection and by the possible stories that could be crafted from them.

Anna Collette Hunt 2

Anna created Stirring the Swarm in several stages, from the models and their moulds, the cast  were turned out and a team of assistants made and glazed the 10,000 individual elements. Some insects have a trickle of gold lustre, which references the traditional technique of presenting insects in museum collections by pinning each one to a board. This particular aspect has also fallen into the story, where the enchanted beetles bleed gold from their wounds.

Anna Collette Hunt’s ceramics aim to rekindle a forgotten, childlike sense of curiosity and delight, sometimes with a sinister undertone. The exhibition has the atmosphere of a Brothers Grimm-style gothic fairytale, intended to stir imagination and incite curiosity, whilst fleeting and disjointed sounds add to the unease and discomfort of the installation.

Anna Collette Hunt 3

These are not your usual common or garden beetle, you will find some have missing limbs or wings, reflecting their ancient and delicate condition – some have mutated during their escape, sprouting extra heads or wings: evolution and magic transforming the swarm into a new lifeform.

The exhibition runs until 29th January 2012.

Nottingham Castle Museum and Art Gallery, Off Friar Lane, Off Maid Marian Way, Nottingham, NG1 6EL.

It’s really worth taking a view of  Anna’s beautiful website: or the Stirring the Swarm blog:


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