Bummock: Tennyson Research Centre

New exhibition brings attention to rarely-seen items from the Tennyson Research Centre

Bummock: Tennyson Research Centre is the result of a long-term artistic investigation by artists Danica Maier, Andrew Bracey and Sarah Bennett, in the Tennyson Research Centre (TRC), Lincoln. This archive holds what is considered to be the most significant collection in the world relating to the Lincolnshire-born nineteenth century poet, Alfred Tennyson. Though the archive houses a wealth of objects and information on the poet himself, it is the lesser-known and intriguing content concerning his wider family and relationships that has been central to the creation of new work by all three artists.

Over the past four years, the artists have explored the archive with an intention to examine and respond to what they call the ‘Bummock’; a term used to describe the large part of an iceberg hidden beneath the surface of the sea. This exhibition forms part of a wider research project, ‘Bummock: Artists in Archives’, led by Danica Maier and Andrew Bracey, which is investigating, researching and using unseen parts of archives as catalysts for new works.

This exhibition shows new works by each artist, alongside the objects, memories and stories selected from the archive that inspired them. Danica was most taken by Alfred Tennyson’s great niece Fryn (Wynifried) Tennyson Jesse. Her new work looks at Fryn’s legacy and her personal relationships, through the lens of Danica’s own family and female relations. Andrew’s interest was captured by the drawings and sketchbooks of Alfred and Emily Tennyson’s eldest son, Hallam. His work explores these objects as unique visual records giving a fascinating and alternative insight into the upbringing and daily life of Tennyson’s children specifically, and Victorian life in general. Sarah’s research took as its starting point Tennyson’s immediate family and the various illnesses from which most of the male family members suffered. She then investigated the situation of the female Tennysons who were excluded from a university education, unlike their male counterparts.

More about ‘Bummock: Artists in Archives’ can be found at: https://www.bummock.org

Thanks go to all who have supported the development of this exhibition, the staff at Lincolnshire Archives and The Collection Museum, Lincoln and the team of dedicated freelancers and businesses who have made this possible, including but not limited to Joff + Ollie Studio, Miriam Bean, NCCD, Reece Straw, Bradley Oliver-White and Iain Edwards.

Exhibition dates:

8th January - 20th February 2022

Thursday - Monday, 10am - 4pm.

Free entry


Events and Workshops

Gallery Tours
2–3pm, 8th January, Exhibition Gallery, with Danica, Andrew and Sarah
2–3pm, 5th February, Exhibition Gallery, with Art Historian Jim Cheshire, Danica, Sarah and Andrew
Informal artist-led gallery tours where you can find out more about the artists’ work, the ideas behind the exhibition and the selection of objects from the Tennyson Research Centre. The artists will be joined in conversation by Jim Cheshire, Art Historian and Lecturer at the University of Lincoln, on the 5th February.

Free event, places limited. Book here


Reading by Danica Maier
2–3pm, 15th January, Exhibition Gallery, The Collection Museum
Her Words, My Voice is a live reading of quotes taken from Joanna Colenbrander’s biography, A Portrait of Fryn: Biography of F. Tennyson Jesse. Taking you from Fryn’s early years through until after her death, together these quotes give insight into Tennyson’s great niece, Fryn, as well as an impression of the artist. Some quotes are direct connections or similarities between them, others are merely thoughts that touched Danica or to which she relates.

Free event, places limited. Book here


Re-versed Poems Workshop with Kate Buckley
2–3.30pm, 12th February, Education Suite, The Collection Museum
The workshop will invite participants to engage directly with Tennyson’s poetry, rearranging a selection of his poems to generate their own. Using the ‘cut-up technique’, introduced by the Dadaists of the 1920s and popularized by writers of the Beat generation, participants will create new poetry from Tennyson’s words. The ‘re-versed’ poems will be assembled to form a new and unique text-based artwork made by the participants, which will form part of an online gallery following the workshop. Workshop suitable for all ages and abilities.

Free event, places limited. Book here


Sound in the Gallery Workshop with Ross Oliver
2–3pm, 22nd January, Education Suite, The Collection Museum
Sound artist Ross Oliver will deliver a workshop that draws influence from Tennyson’s Poem Voyage to Maeldune. The Poem is rich in themes of listening and hearing, particularly within verses referring to the “Silent Isle” and the “Isle of Shouting”. During the workshop participants will be exploring the narratives of both verses and the extreme states of hearing that they both depict using sound recording and listening exercises. Workshop suitable for all ages and abilities.

Free event, places limited. Book here 


Bummock: Tennyson Research Centre Symposium
10am-4pm, 19th February, Auditorium

Speakers: Dr. Sarah Bennett, Sue Breakell, Andrew Bracey, Dr. Jim Cheshire, Jenny Gleadell, Danica Maier, Dr. Sian Vaughan 
This symposium will explore and expand upon issues arising from the residency and exhibition, Bummock: Tennyson Research Centre. The speakers’ presentations will include an overview of the Tennyson Research Centre held in the Lincolnshire County Archives, connections between Tennyson, his family and the artworks, importance of the personal within the archive and its materiality, discussion about the sense of ‘place’ of the archive and these implications, an unpacking of the artists research and work within the TRC. There will be plenty of opportunity for questions and discussion at the end of the presentations.  The symposium will be followed by a celebratory book launch of the publication arising from the project. 

Tickets £10, concessions £5 (plus booking fee). All tickets available here.


Image credit: Notebooks containing drawings by Hallam Tennyson as a child (TRC/BC/7624), photograph by Reece Straw