Yesterday I saw the installation of a new display of Islamic ceramics in the Weston Discovery Centre at World Museum Liverpool. The display is a very personal project for technical services technician Helen Halliwell, as she has been closely involved from the outset.
Helen used to work as a demonstrator in the Weston Discovery Centre before joining the technical services team over at the National Conservation Centre recently. When the display of Islamic ceramics was proposed to tie in with the Arabic Arts Festival next month, Helen’s expertise was called on as she has a background in ceramics - she worked as a ceramics technician while studying for her Masters degree in the subject. So Helen worked with curator Emma Martin to select pieces of 13th and 14th century Islamic pottery from Iran, Iraq and Egypt for the display. The pieces, which have never been on display before, were chosen as they are great examples of the geometry and patterns in their designs, which Islamic ceramics are famous for.
After finalising the selection Helen joined technical services, which is the department responsible for creating mounts and installing displays. So she has been involved in that side of the project as well, including specifying the layout of the display case.
I caught up with Helen and senior technician Bill Sillitoe when they finished the display off yesterday. Bill made the supports for the wall mounted sherds in the display, using wire with a silicon tubing covering to protect the artefacts. Although they look quite simple, each one is specially made to support a specific sherd safely at the correct angle.
You can see more photos of the installation in our Islamic ceramics display set on Flickr.