James A. Hudson - Metamorphosis: Form and Change in the Ashmolean Museum

  • Hardcover, Limited print run of 350
  • 96 pages. Approximately 70 B&W Images, Printed in duo-tone black
  • Texts by Xa Sturgis, Peter Hamilton & James A. Hudson Published by Bardwell Press

A photographic project by the Ashmolean Museum’s 2010-2011 Artist in Residence. Taking its name from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, it explores the relationship between museum visitors and art. James photographed inside the museum for nearly two years, shooting thousands of images on black and white film.

“It started out just wandering, as so many things do for me. I had never visited the old museum – I moved to Oxford during its multi-million pound redevelopment and was therefore quite curious when it reopened.”

The work deals with the unusual and sometimes uneasy relationships between visitors and the materials they encounter in the museum setting, and with our need to see ourselves in the art before us. As materials are silenced, cordoned off and abstracted, so the visitor is hushed by their grand surroundings, and chaperoned through a gallery according to a plan set before them by the curator.

“I then remembered reading about statues coming alive and people being turned into animals and objects in Ovid’s stories of metamorphosis. In one story Daphne becomes a tree and in another story Pyrrha and Deucalion create a new race of men from stones thrown on the ground.”

Finding beauty – not just in artworks themselves – but in the act of encountering art as well, this book is a testament to the visitor-art relationship.

Preserving moments of true and often tender connection between members of the public and their historical predecessors, the book lays before its reader a pictorial study of men and women finding identity, companionship, and solace in art.

“The inability to speak is a recurring theme in Ovid, and this also suited many of the shots. These pictures, too, are only echoes of what has happened in the museum.”


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