South African Rock Art
British Museum | 2016
Coinciding with the South Africa exhibition, Skellon Studio was appointed to design the South African Rock Art exhibition in Room 3 next to the British Museum's main entrance. The gallery displayed a single object: a 200,000 year old piece of rock art made by the San people, depicting two human figures and three eland (a type of antelope).
A large backdrop image of a South African landscape gave context to the rock, which was found beneath an overhang with vistas across the surrounding savanna. Drawing on this, we designed the space within a palette of reds, oranges and earth colours that abstract from and exaggerate the colours of the photograph and the stone itself. Softly-lit theatrical fabrics hang above the rock, creating the abstracted strata of a rocky overhang. The plinth, monitor bench and graphics shelves are all clad in an exaggerated orange Valchromat. The side wall behind the rock is beige with the facing wall a pale blue, extending the sense of the sky and space beyond.
Working to an invisible grid based on the dimensions of the rock, each element within the exhibition was designed and positioned according to the grid. The two side walls are framed by paler borders, which situate the display within the neoclassicism of the room.
In developing the show, we collaborated with:
DHA Lighting: Lighting
Keyboard: Build & Install
Photos © British Museum