Relatives of the Tolpuddle Martyrs say a new augmented reality artwork tribute to the six Dorset men made them ‘very proud.’
The ground-breaking artwork by acclaimed artist Jason Wilsher-Mills was unveiled at a special launch party at Shire Hall Historic Courthouse Museum in Dorchester on Monday night. The event had particular significance as this week marks the 185th anniversary of the trial of the Tolpuddle Martyrs at Shire Hall.
Relatives of the Martyrs worked with Jason and their voices can be heard in the exhibition. Eleanor Evans is a relation of Steven and Elizabeth Loveless. Elizabeth was the sister of Martyr James Hammett and Steven was related to Martyrs George and James Loveless. Eleanor said: “It’s just fantastic that six quite ordinary men could have the effect on the world that they had and that they are still remembered 185 years on.”
Derek Pride is related to Martyr James Brine. He said: “I’m delighted and proud and I think the exhibition is superb. I’ve seen nothing like it before, it’s so modern. It’s mind blowing, but it’s also subtle, there’s so much meaning there.”
Jason and developers HotKnife created a special app for the exhibition which is available on the app store – Tolpuddle Martyrs Remixed: Six Dorset Men Who Changed The World. The app even works with the merchandise from the exhibit, so that visitors can take a part of the exhibit home with them.
Jason said: “There’s nothing in the UK like this. It’s ground-breaking, there’s no other museum or gallery using this technology the way we are.” He said it had been lovely to hear the feedback from the relatives that they enjoyed it.
Director of Shire Hall, Anna Bright, said: “I think it’s absolutely incredible. Visually the work is so rich, you can keep looking at it and the more you see the more you get out of it, and that’s even before the augmented reality, it’s stunning.”
Groups of students from Years 5,7 and 8, worked with Jason to create their own Tolpuddle Martyr-style portraits and their artworks will be part of the new exhibition at Shire Hall.
Art leader at St Mary’s CE Middle School in Puddletown, Ben Moss, said that working with Jason had been a brilliant experience. He said: “It was a fantastic experience for the students, it really opened their eyes to the Tolpuddle Martyrs – they had to put themselves in their place. It was a nice combination of local history and art.”
The exhibition, Tolpuddle Martyrs Remixed: Six Dorset Men Who Changed The World, will run at Shire Hall until June 14 and will be free with a valid Museum Annual Pass. For more information or to become a volunteer visit shirehalldorset.org.
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