Studio 16 and members of Locally Made were invited to create a collection of work which had been inspired by the building, museum collection or art work currently on display. We prepared the work for the Friday Focus Talk Special on the 27th March. The work was on display for the audience in the main gallery and then either placed in the museum shop and Hammam.
The Royal Pump Rooms is a Grade II listed building in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire. It was the most famous of several spa baths opened in Leamington between the late-18th and mid-19th centuries. People would travel from throughout the country, and indeed Europe, to benefit from treatments using the town’s healing waters. When ‘taking the waters’ became less fashionable after the mid-19th century the Pump Rooms became Leamington’s only surviving spa facility, later also being extended to include the town’s public swimming pool. After a major redevelopment in 1997 – 99 the building now houses Leamington Spa Art Gallery & Museum.I made several pieces in collaboration with Elena Cecchinato which have been displayed in the museum’s Hammam. Our inspiration came from research into how a Hammam was used by Brides for a traditional henna ceremony the night before the wedding. Henna is not only decorative but also carries good luck and fertility and during the evening the women decorate the bride’s hand’s and feet with intricate designs. The henna paste is carefully applied and must remain undisturbed on the skin for several hours to create a strong dark stain. During this time the bride is waited on by her friends and family and has a final opportunity to socialize without the responsibilities of a husband and, ultimately, a family. We made a henna bucket decorated with transfers of drawings made by Elena, a Bidri style of ewer and some bowls with gold lustre – the bowls have a contemporary look with skeletons drawn freehand inside in white.<