We went along to Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery to check out ‘The Shape of Things’ exhibition that explores the distinctive contribution artists make to influence or reflect national identity, the intercultural nature of British society and its connection with global cultures. Alinah Azadeh’s exhibits started with her wrapping her mother’s rice cookers and other objects that belonged to her mother who died in the Asian Tsunami of 2004. There is a poem on the wrapping called, ‘Come, Come my Beloved’ by Sufi poet Jalaluddin Rumi. This poem was turned into a song by Iranian singer Bijan Bijani and the cassette recording was a gift to Alinah from her mother when she was a teenager. The poem is written in Farsi, in Romanised Farsi, and English – the three languages – tongues – spoken by Alinah, her Iranian mother and her British-born daughter. Alinah went on to collect a total of 999 objects by asking ‘givers’ to donate something that had meaning but ‘had outlived their emotional shelf life’. Each of the objects donated were submitted with a personal meaning or association they had for the ‘giver’. These meanings are displayed alongside the installation. Sometimes working with the givers, but mostly on her own, Alinah wrapped the gifts in richly colored fabrics and Sari yarn to transform them into the installation, using colors inspired by Burmese, Turkish and Persian textiles. Rosa Nguyen has selected museum objects as inspiration for new work and is showing them alongside her new pieces. She has created new and imaginary interpretations, making connections with her work and the museum objects ‘in and outside cabinets’. Rosa works with ceramics and dried and lacquered plants and glass pieces. Rosa’s Fleet is an arrangement of British pottery sauceboats, including an 18th century Bristol porcelain butterboat, and a 20th century blue-and-white transfer-printed boat, on a high shelf. Altar (7) is a collection of skins* of crossbills (birds from the biology collection) with lacquered branches and large-scale glass vessels, displayed inside and outside of a museum cabinet. The exhibition runs until Sunday 18th April. For further details of this show and upcoming shows at Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery click here. Subscribe or keep coming back for more. The next blog from Coates and Scarry, 'Lola'