The Mitre Owl

Collaborative exhibition with artist Joanna Whittle / Artcade Gallery / July 2021

Ruin (Collage Study) / Ceramic / 2021 / 38cm x 24cm

The Mitre Owl represents a collection made up of objects and original artworks by David Orme and Joanna Whittle as well as artefacts and items from their own treasuries. The exhibition space will become part shop front, part assemblage and part physical inventory and will represent a small corner of a much wider and quite possibly fictional archive. The exhibition will reveal points of collaboration between Orme and Whittle including the production of a limited edition enamel pin. New paintings and ceramics from Whittle will exhibit alongside Orme’s own ceramic works and collages along with other artworks from the collection.

On view at Artcade Gallery, Sheffield from 2nd – 24th July 2021

Between Islands

Exhibition by Joanna Whittle on display at the Harley Gallery from 01.08.2020 – 01.11.2020

Whittle’s exhibition at the Harley Gallery on the Welbeck Estate responded to the Portland Collection and surrounding estate. We made trips to various sites on the estate meeting with curators past and present and an expert on costume. I collaborated with JW, lending support in the display and framing of work.
I also included two works pictured above titled: ‘Nine Marvels (from beyond the Interstitial Passageway)’ & ‘Eight Marvels (from beyond the Interstitial Passageway)’, hand dyed, c-type prints.
The titles were informed by a novel written by Margaret Cavendish Duchess of Newcastle titled Blazing World.

My dyed photographs (of collages) catalogue the keepsakes recovered from the Blazing World.

In ‘Between Islands’ [Whittle] explores the relationship between ‘creating worlds’ and ‘creating collections’ and the role curation and display of collections plays in developing narratives- real or imagined.

[Whittle] has produced the paintings, drawings and ceramics on display in response to the landscape of the Welbeck estate and items in The Portland Collection and has displayed these as a collection of artefacts from an imagined world called Do><ia. The project has involved collaboration with artist David Orme, to explore the determinations of display and the decisions made to formalise the fictional into the authentic.

The world described is heavily influenced by the rich fabrics and fine ceramics in The Portland Collection and the secret landscape within the estate- creating islands of silk draped structures, hidden tunnels and overgrown gateways alongside ceramic artefacts from this imagined society.


I’m pleased to announce I have been accepted on the Artist Access to Art Colleges scheme at York St John University.

Untitled Window Dressing / C-Type print / 2019

During my time on the AA2A scheme I look forward to working in the printmaking department, using the screen printing facilities to create printed material for large scale collages. I hope also to collaborate with public and private collections in York chronicling the display of ‘non-functional’ objects.

Prosaic Mosaic: A Survey of New Painting

21 – 26 October
Launch event:
Friday 25 October, 6 – 8pm

I’m delighted to be a part of the group show Prosaic Mosaic.

Part of the evolving Prosaic series, PROSAIC MOSAIC is a group exhibition of paintings to be held at Bloc Projects, Sheffield, 22 – 26 Oct.

The exhibition features small works from over fifty artists. Seen together, the varied works form a larger picture – a mosaic of contemporary painting practice.  

Using a prosaic definition of painting – ‘pigment on substrate’ – has allowed the curators to showcase a diverse range of approaches to making. The way the work is displayed will trigger connections between the paintings.

The show brings together work by noted painters from across the UK, Ireland and beyond with artists from the curators’ home in Sheffield. The curators are keen to present exciting work regardless of the artists’ perceived status. Equal standing is given to work from artists at all career stages, from students to prize-winners.

PROSAIC MOSAIC is curated by Sean Williams, Bryan Eccleshall and Katya Robin.

Bloc Projects Members Show 2019

  Jennifer Bailey
Kedisha Coakley
Charlotte Dawson
Mandy Gamsu
Donghwan Ko
Gemma Mackenzie
David Orme
Jill Tate
We are delighted to be presenting work from a selection of artists from across the UK who are currently benefitting from being part of the Bloc Projects Members Scheme. This annual group exhibition forms a key part of our yearly curated programme and is organised by an open call application of Members’ existing work.
Installation view:
Twenty Two Solid Objects (2) / 2019
This year the participating artists have been selected by guest curator Eva Rowson. The exhibition brings together recent works from eight artists who all have different approaches to making using sculpture, collage, ceramics and photography. Despite their varied practices, the artists selected share an interest in exploring anxiety, trauma and tension in their work and how these feelings intersect with their relations to personal histories, private space and the changing world(s) outside.
Eva Rowson is an artist, producer and curator. Her work is organised around questions of how we host each other, how we work together, how we build organisations – and the work and structures that make all of this possible. Eva is currently Curator in Residence at Lighthouse, Brighton.

Rock Crystal

On display in the archeological department at Museums Sheffield, Weston Park there is a small spherical object, about 40mm wide, made from quartz, supported by a vertical armature.  It was found in a burial plot beside the skeletal remains of a woman and child and research has determined this orb was once treasured for its apotropaic properties.  

The rock crystal amulet was found at Wigber Low. Other examples are usually suspended, using a silver chain. This example has no sign of any suspension. However, there is a V-shaped hole in one surface with traces of chipping around its rim. This may be all that now remains of the suspension. Wigber Low was excavated between 1975-6 by John Collis from the University of Sheffield. These excavations were started after spearheads were found during a survey of the area. Further excavation at the site in 1987 uncovered a small cairn containing a child burial and an Anglo-Saxon burial of a young woman. Grave goods from this burial included the fittings from a wooden box, an iron knife, spear, and this rock crystal orb. (Museums Sheffield website)

An artist friend and I made a visit to Wigber Low and wandered over what we believed to be the area the rock crystal was discovered.  We received helpful directions from a farmer living and working close to the ancient plot.  We disturbed him while he and his family were making preparations for his daughter’s wedding, erecting a large marquee in a distant field.  Despite this, he made time for us and showed us two framed maps hung on his farmhouse wall.  (See images below.). He was able to direct us to the site and recalled the frenzy that surrounded the discovery of the uncovered hoard.  He described country lanes gridlocked with amateur detectorists trying to find hidden treasures.  They were made aware of the discoveries when local news broke the story.  Police had to disperse those hunting for treasures since the plot was now a site of importance.  The urgency to safeguard the many significant objects found on Wigber Low meant today there is very little remaining.  Unlike Arbor Low, Wigber Low is an insignificant mound and I doubt people visit it.


The following information was found in Audrey L. Meaney’s book ‘Anglo-Saxon Amulets and Curing Stones‘ 

W. D. Hildburgh defined an amulet as:  ‘… a material object through whose retention there is sought the averting of some result displeasing, or the obtaining of some outcome pleasing, to the possessor of that object, and in a way which seems to be beyond natural laws as proclaimed by persons best qualified to understand them.  Primarily it is the retention* of the object, for the sake of its presumed apotropaic, which marks it as an amulet…’

Amulets are closely associated with curing stones.  These belonged to cunning men or women and were used in curing rituals. Dipping the amulet into water before drinking was believed to revive patients.  Though most of us today wouldn’t trust the amulet’s properties today it’s believed all levels of society would have used curing stones: Amulets are so common among people’s of all stages of savagery and civilisation – not excepting the most highly educated sections of modern society – that it would be surprising if the Anglo-Saxon did not also have them.

Use of crystal balls for ‘scrying’ appears to have gained currency only in the Renaissance, as far as Western Europe is concerned 

The crystal orb might have had practical as well as supernatural properties, lighting sacrificial fires by focusing the sun’s rays through the lens of the orb would have been an extremely useful and portable tool.

‘… but the magic nature of rock-crystals is most highly concentrated in the balls. I suggest that we should see these as symbolic as well as amuletic: representing women as guardians of the hearth and of her family’s health, just as the spindle whorl and weaving batten represented her skill with cloth… most domestic healing was in the hands of women in Anglo-Saxon period, as it is today’

I’m interested in the varied practical and supernatural applications of the rock crystal.  I’m also interested to know more about the people that possessed and used the orbs and I’ll read further about how their position in society changed through the ages.  I wonder if at a later stage there’s a crossover with the persecution of people believed to be witches and wizards?

I will add more as the project develops… 

* Retention of an object, albeit a limited gathering of things, suggests an early collection.

Other theories:

The true origin of the rock crystal is unknown however rock crystal found in other sites in the UK might have been Germanic / Hungary from the 1st century AD.

Romans were said to carry balls of crystal in order to cool their hands, perhaps because they believed that crystal was formed by the intense freezing of snow

In Sweden, Carinthia, Portugal and Switzerland crystal and quartz were also known as thunderstone which were thought to have fallen from the sky during a storm.