Muse: The collection inspires project

Games and Pieces

I have always visited museums and have appreciated the time-capsuled artefacts and knowledge held within. The eclectic nature of the Holburne Museum collection is a pleasure to see. Brought together by Thomas Holburne, a man who collected the things that pleased him. The tour and close-up session attended by my year group and I was very informative and inspiring. As part of the tour the information that stirred my imagination was that the museum had formerly been the Sydney Hotel, gateway to the gardens. Used for a communial entertainment, a place for gathering, seeing and being seen.


In the close up session that followed I found myself drawn to two pieces, the Chancellors Purse and mother of pearl gaming counters, worn but still filled with inspiration. I was in awe of the craftsmanship. The Chancellors Purse made from gold wrapped threads and velvet, full of pomp and ceremony.



On closer inspection it revealed motifs and intricate stitch detail. I was surprised by the naivety of their representation, child-like. The angels on the boarder appearing like dolls



and the plump cherubs as if hand drawn by a child. Each exquisitely finished in twists of gold braid, couched and cabled into being.


The conversation that followed was of games and how it had changed with the rise of video gaming and the resultant isolation of individuals within their bedroom cells. Even so video gaming has introduced figurines that connect with onscreen characters that the gamer can take on adventures or race either alone or with online friends but strangely remain in solitude. Children and adult are enjoying this technological connection but in an attempt to reconnect in the physical world and take a break from technology people and families are reconnecting over board games. People united in play, enjoying each other’s company and par taking in friendly competiveness. This suggests there is still room for the traditional board game.


Board games a great way of uniting people to start conversation and give focal points to discussion, drawing people together for a purpose, uniting past and present. Bringing together these items, doll like faces, Sydney Garden entertaining, games and the museum’s late night events.


My proposal is for an interactive late night event in the café, using board games for an all inclusive activity involving young and old. I therefore will undertake to design and make either a selection of board games or multiples of the same for the event.




Here are three examples of old games probably played in the 1700s and probably date from before as in the case of the Nine men Morris. I have selected these to give a range in the amount of people that can play each game.


  • Nine Men Morris is a two player game of strategy aiming to disable your opponents ability to make a row of three men by removing pieces.
  • The Royal and Pleasant Game of Goose is said to be for an unlimited amount of players but in contemporary settings would likely be for 6 to 8 people. It is a game of chance with forfeit and rewards in a spiral format. First to the centre wins.
  • The Royal Game of Owl is a game of pure chance with limit of players restricted by the amount of counters available. End of play is when a player is left when all others have lost their counters or the one with the most at the end of a time period.


Using old games no longer in general use will add novelty, break the safety of expectation and place everybody on the same level as it is unlikely that anyone will have played these games before.


As games and gambling were important in Georgian times; value, worth and sentiment was formed in the boards and pieces themselves even if made from what was to hand they still became favoured items and travelled with individuals.


Through research into gaming pieces the playful quality of draught counters urging use of the stacking nature and interconnection revealed an interesting bump in the middle that was reminiscent of dew-drops on leaves which has a magnification quality that would lead to an interesting design turn.


Brining together knowledge of a previous Holburne exhibition, “Pickpocketing the Rich” and exhibition on souvenir paintings by up and coming renowned artists making a name for themselves as well as earning a living. Using Pickpocketing as a keyword, I reimagined smuggling and the hollowed out coins from a Police museum I saw as a child. This gave me the idea of hollow game pieces that could hold something fabulous or precious to be placed inside and make use of the magnification previously spoken of.


Displayed are photo manipulations in Photoshop using photographs from a close up session with the Chancellors Purse. Isolating details such as pearl beads, braided stitch and from the shield a motif lion. Generating imagery to place inside the game pieces. Continuing on here are experiments with acrylic lenses analysing aesthetic affects on produced imagery. It is my aim to use fabrics such as velvet with screen foils that will under go laser etching.


On this slide is the hand drawn technical design, which is then taken into illustrator to improve accuracy before the file is translated to the CNC router software to carve out the prototype pieces, which is also displayed here complete with acrylic lens, demonstrating the effect on imagery under magnification within the game piece.



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