If you have ever dropped a letter in the post, dashed-off a postcard to a friend on holidays or even just sent a text or an email, you are part of a human tradition that goes back thousands of years.
And this is exactly what a new exhibition at Tipperary County Museum is exploring.
‘A Message in Time’ is a multi-dimensional investigation of the relationship between humans and the written word, our obsession with communication, and how this continues to evolve and change as new technologies come on-stream.
At the heart of the exhibition, which was launched on Monday 3rd July, is Tipperary County Museum’s extraordinary collection of vintage postcards and stamps, many of which have never been on public display before. These postcards open a window onto Tipperary’s changing landscapes and townscapes, while the messages they hold tell of life during wartime, experiences abroad and insights of tourists visiting an unfamiliar Irish village or seaside resort.
Companies used postcards to promote their businesses, while satirical postcards poked fun at Irish political issues. And then of course there are the lovers, writing notes of undying devotion and heartbreak.
“The inspiration for our new exhibition came first and foremost from our postcard collection”, museum curator Marie McMahon says.
“However, we soon realised it was impossible to tell that story in isolation. We ended up looking at the process of ‘messaging’ in all its forms, whether that is a cave painting of 30,000 years ago or a tweet sent yesterday. It is the same principle, just a different way of doing it,” Marie continues.
Tipperary County Museum has invested heavily into this new exhibition. The museum is collaborating with the Clonmel Junction Festival to engage with three nationally acclaimed professional artists - James Earley (graffiti and graphic artist), Katie Hanlan (knitted textile artist) and Lay of the Land (visual and textile artists) - who are exhibiting their postcard inspired pieces in ‘A Message in Time’ exhibition and in its environs.
Tipperary County Museum has been working with 3rd year LIT students Reece Maher and Kevin Power who are studying Creative Multimedia and Digital Animation Production respectively. The students have been researching the museum’s postcard and written collection to create visual narratives and animations which will engage public participation.
The collaboration has given Reece and Kevin firsthand experience of working with a design team and producing a finished product for Tipperary County Museum.
Additional funding from Creative Ireland, with the assistance of their coordinator Roisin O'Grady, and the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs on a range of digital, artistic and community projects linked to the exhibition has been a huge help.
“The opportunity to work with these incredible professional artists and students adds so much to this project”, Marie says, adding that while merging creativity and history in a museum setting is not the norm, it will hopefully be the future, thanks to Creative Ireland funds.
The new exhibition breaks new ground for the museum and promises to be an entertaining and thought-provoking journey through part of their collective consciousness as humans.
'A Message in Time' runs until June 2018 and admission is free.
FREE ADMISSION UNTIL JUNE 2018