International artists Bik Van der Pol unveil new video work at RAMM

A video work made by internationally renowned artists Bik Van der Pol as part of Exeter Culture’s Creative Practitioner commission is now installed in RAMM’s Cafe.

Czigane: Not the Whole Story (2019) – commissioned alongside the development of Exeter’s first Place-based Cultural Strategy – is inspired by the story of Czigane, a Siberian sledge dog that went on Scott’s 1910-1913 British Antarctic Terra Nova Expedition to the South Pole, and whose skull and collar are part of RAMM’s collection.

In the film, developed in collaboration with the children and teacher of St David’s C of E Primary School and the National Meteorological Library and Archive, Bik Van der Pol explore the relationship between objects, images and language, ownership and naming, and global trade. The piece also adds to discussions around climate change as well as engaging directly with a selection of RAMM’s objects.

Jos van der Pol and Liesbeth Bik with Julien Parsons, Senior Collections Officer at RAMM

Jos van der Pol and Liesbeth Bik with Julien Parsons, Senior Collections Officer at RAMM

As part of their session at St David’s Primary School, the artists shared the story of Czigane and the Arctic expedition, and worked with the children to create their own ‘ice island’ and the myths/legends that may surround it.

Teacher Victoria Jones-Whyte said: “'St David's Primary School was delighted to be involved in Bik Van der Pol's commission, and we are strong advocates of the importance of artistic expression as part of a well-rounded education. We run an enquiry-based curriculum where the children work as if they are an expert team (which could be historians, anthropologists, castle restorers, and so forth) – in this instance, they were pirates discovering and exploring the ice island. It was this method of immersing the students in the curriculum that the artists engaged with, and the children loved sharing their learning journey with them.”

Camilla Hampshire, Museums Manager, said: “This is a thoughtful, complex and engaging new artwork by world-renowned artists Bik Van der Pol. I love that their work opens up new stories and allows possibilities for a range voices to speak through art to engage politically right now. This is what the best contemporary art does. The showing at RAMM is part of a lively programme of new artwork by critically acclaimed and popular artists which, since 2012 have included Sonia Boyce, Blind Ditch, Gary Fabian Miller, Blast Theory, Polly Morgan and Serena Korda amongst many others.”

Exeter Culture Director Dom Jinks said: “We launched the call for this artwork in autumn 2018, as part of our role in leading the development of a new Place-based Cultural Strategy for the city over the next five years. We wanted an artwork to connect to the Strategy and to illustrate how the arts can help define a place, its buildings, its collections and, most importantly, its people. This work, therefore, aims to connect, in a participatory way, to Exeter and its communities, and expresses the unique qualities of the city and those who contribute to its ongoing story.”

Czigane: Not the Whole Story (2019) will be on display in the Cafe until 16 June. The work was commissioned by Exeter Culture with support from the Met Office, Exeter Cathedral and RAMM.