Monday, 30 January 2017

BXL photographic archive #0119

In 2010, MoDiP was donated a large archive of images relating to a single company. Bakelite Xylonite Ltd, also known as British Xylonite Ltd or BXL, was possibly one of the first British firms to successfully manufacture a plastics material in commercial quantities. The company was established in 1875 and after a long history went into liquidation in the late 2000s. The images we have in the collection are concentrated around the 1960s through to the 1980s and show us glimpses of the manufacturing process, products and the company’s employees during this time. We plan to share an image each week to give a flavour of the archive. If you want to see more you can view the whole collection on our website.

This week’s image shows beer cans being packed in shrink wrap.

To get a better view of the image and find out more have a look at it on our website

We are still working on the documentation of the archive, some of the images we know more about than others. It would be fantastic if we could fill in some of the gaps in our knowledge, if you know anything about the company or specific images it would be good to hear from you.
Louise Dennis (Assistant Curator)

Friday, 27 January 2017

Did you know? #55

Did you know that all of our past exhibitions are available online?

National identity: Sweden, United Kingdom, Italy

MoDiP recently acquired a collection of Swedish design from the mid-20th century. Prompted by the clear stylistic character of the objects we began to think about the identifiable styles of other countries producing similar objects. Here we present objects from MoDiP’s collections which were designed and produced in Sweden, the United Kingdom and Italy and the between the 1930s and the present day.

Swedish design is characterised by its simplicity of form and is motivated by a moral belief that good, ethically produced design should be accessible to all. 

Design in the United Kingdom is considered to be pioneering, highly innovative and creative in its approach.

Drawing on a rich artistic and creative history and a strong industrial heritage, Italian design has become synonymous with all that is chic and is lauded for its craftsmanship.

Louise Dennis, (Assistant Curator)

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Student Creative: Adrian Finn

This year we have three Student Creatives working with MoDiP. Last but not least we will ask Adrian Finn to introduce himself and his project:

I am a third year Architecture student at AUB, and have been given the opportunity to promote the Museum of Design in Plastics. My project with MoDiP seeks to explore and revive the connection between plastic products and their source – the fossil.

As a student of Architecture I like to produce work that is more conceptual – something that gives the viewer a narrative or idea, and hopefully evokes emotion or thought. I also enjoy capturing these ideas through the aesthetics of my work – this varies from model-making, architectural plans, and photography. Below are examples of my previous works: 

Scale Model of an Orwellian Future for Poole (Future Scenarios project)

Utrecht University Library, interior
Side Elevation of a proposal for a music school extension to Poole Lighthouse

As I have already worked in a conceptual way within the subject of Architecture, I would like to explore a different subject – plastics, and how we think of them.

For myself, after initially visiting MoDiP, the sheer diversity in what we define as plastic products is astonishing – be it drain pipes and gutters, snooker balls, baby toys, and so on. The difference between the snooker ball and the squeezable toy is amazing! 

Pipe fittings BXL: 0383
Aramith snooker balls AIBDC : 005759
Octopals bath toy AIBDC : 004865

When one looks at masonry stone used to build, the original stone found in the quarry, and the final heavy block, is fairly similar in appearance. When one looks at the timber structure of a building, the timber used originally may be defined in a number of ways – be it colour, weight, growth rings, and so on. Try this logic with the nearest plastic object to you – how do you imagine the plastic being sourced? Does the material give any clues? The colour? The texture?

Plastics can be manipulated to change their form, materiality, texture, and properties in many ways. Unlike timber and stone, plastics can be separated from their source material almost entirely. Considering the stereotypical bright and clean colours that we associate with plastics and plastic products, they can seem so 'synthetic', or 'unnatural', when this simply isn't true!

Plastic is formed from crude oil, a fossil fuel. Crude oil is formed over millions of years. It starts when plankton in the sea dies, falls to the bottom of the sea bed, and becomes crushed by sediment falling on top of it. Over millions of years the remains of the plankton changes into crude oil, which through fractional distillation can be separated into all kinds of oils – including the oil used to make plastic products.

The fact that plastics start their life within fossilised remains is something that I feel is lost today. We are constantly reminded to reuse and recycle our plastics – but without an understanding of the original source of the material, is it harder for the public to be compassionate about recycling? Is there an alternative to the ‘guilt trip’ method of raising awareness for recycling (think of footage of massive mounds of dumped plastic with floods of seagulls harassing a dumpster truck)?
My project with MoDiP seeks to explore and revive the connection between plastic products and their source – the fossil. I would like to produce a piece of work that juxtaposes the ‘synthetic’ portrayal of plastics today against the aesthetics and properties of fossils. This should spark an idea of how we view plastics – giving them more context in our existence on Earth, and how we harness them to create our world.

Adrian Finn
Student Creative