Twelve was a comprehensive project designed to study the relationship between ‘Chinese things’ and ‘Chinese people’.

Historical collections in British museums offer unique challenges to those working with contemporary audiences. The Chinese collections held by Brighton Museum & Art Gallery were largely formed by British people engaged in travel and trade in the late 19th century. They often reveal more about British experiences than they do about China or Chinese people.

The scope

The project looked at these objects to determine how they could be used to develop new dialogues about the relationship between ‘Chinese things’ and ‘Chinese people’ without obscuring the specific historical contexts in which they were acquired.

The consultation

A collaboration between Erika Tan, Brighton Museum & Art Gallery and individuals from Brighton & Hove’s Chinese communities.

The experience

• Chinese crafts workshops
• The development of a new archive of images and oral testimonies
• The creation of a new permanent collection
• The Supplementary Museum (15 November 2005-19 February 2006), a series of installations developed collaboratively by artist Erika Tan and Individuals from Brighton & Hove

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