a l a n a   j e l i n e k




site-specific, participatory mural-graffiti wall
museum of archaeology and anthropology | university of cambridge

The aim of the artwork is to add to the existing world archaeology display in the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge, various birds eye views of the landscapes where the objects come from - to put the collections back into their physical context - and then to add graffiti by museum staff, volunteers, communities and eventually the general public. The graffiti is  historical and contemporary connections to the objects and the places where the objects came from.

The hope is to create a visual language for complexity - to be able to 'map' relationships between places, people and things across time and space.

Working with
Jimena Lobo Guerrero Arenas

education and outreach expert
Sarah-Jane Harknett

and volunteers, staff and visitors to the museum

Supported through University of Hertfordshire / Arts and Humanities Research Council Impact Accelerator Grant


mural graffiti wall progress
First day replacing white walls with colour
Dec 2023

mural graffiti wall progress
Museum volunteer, Tiffany,
was our first volunteer combining stencil spray-painting
with hand-painting directly onto the walls of the museum (2023)

mural graffiti wall progress
More volunteers, like George, trying out tagging (2024).
This one was designed by Kate.
It's "Maudslay's tag".
Alfred Percival Maudslay (1850-1931) was a British Colonial Administrator
who seems to leave his mark on many continents
and we have the museum collections to prove it.

mural graffiti wall progress
More graffiti
this time by museum curators (2023)

painting Indus Valley
Indus Valley and Central American birds eye view landscapes before graffiti additions
(Photographed Jan 2024)

Pacific Ocean - Torres Strait Pacific Ocean - Torres Strait
Torres Strait Islands in the Pacific Ocean with
graffiti about when humans first got there (Photographed Feb 2024)

Just a small rant about the reception of this artwork so far -
Some of my art students have assumed - and maybe there is a wider general assumption - that when I create a collaborative mural with the general public, I must be doing 'education' or 'occupational therapy' or something else decidedly 'not art' - or at least not good art.

Whereas I am making art in a specific tradition, like Jeremy Deller and Alan Kane's 'Folk Art Archive' (2005-2027). Deller and Kane worked with the general public for good critical artistic reasons: to make an artwork about who is included and who is excluded from the archive - what voices count, and what voices don't count - who is a Tate Gallery artist and who isn't.

I suspect that any 'children's potato print' reading of the mural-graffiti project is a sexist reading of my choice to work with 'communities' of non-artists, based on the fact that I am a woman artist.
The pernicious assumption is that I am doing something akin to care, or social work, rather than making a critical contemporary artwork. And this assumption, I believe, is based on my gender.

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