Sue Johnson & General Pitt-Rivers: Collecting Patterns

The curious response of a 21st century artist to a 19th century archaeologist

1 February until 10 May 2014




Collecting Patterns presents a modern ‘cabinet of curiosities’ showcasing how American artist Sue Johnson has engaged with and been inspired by the nineteenth century collector, anthropologist and archaeologist General Pitt-Rivers.  The work in this exhibition captures her visual response to the objects he acquired and how he documented them. 


Sue first began exploring the General’s collecting activities in 2010 as Associate Researcher on the major project Rethinking Pitt-Rivers: Analysing the Activities of a Nineteenth Century Collector (2009-2012) at Pitt-Rivers Museum, Oxford.  This resulted in two groups of watercolours influenced by the illustrations in the General’s second collection manuscript catalogue. 


More recently, Sue’s research extended to the Pitt-Rivers Wessex Collection at Salisbury Museum, in particular the local archaeology documented in his four volume publication Excavations in Cranborne Chase (1887-96).  This resulted in a new series of work called ‘Armchair Archaeology’ created specifically for this exhibition.