ArchFest 2019. And the Sun Shone!

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Saturday 7.30am. All is quiet…
The music begins, and we are off…


King Alfred was there (Tim Lowe)
As were his friends… (The Ancient Wessex Network)

We welcomed the de Caversham household…

Romilly and The Outside…

…and other friends old and new.

Thank you to:

Ancient Wessex Network; Blast from the Past; College of Chivalry; Historic England; Friends of Clarendon; Salisbury Cathedral Education; Tim Lowe; Alex Langlands and team; Wil Partridge (FLO); Kate and Wiltshire Scrapstore; World Heritage; Chris Elmer (Southampton University); The De Caversham Household; The Outside; WARG (Society for Winchester Archaeological and Local History); Weorod; Wessex Archaeology; Wessex Museums Partnership; The Rifles Museum; Cranborne Chase Area of Natural Beauty, and, for their earlier ‘dig’, Phil Harding and Lorraine Mepham. Also thanks to Tony Wheeler (Tony of the Gate), the Cafe, our neighbours in the Close, people of Salisbury area and visitors from afar.

Thanks also to speakers, staff and Volunteers who worked tirelessly to make The Salisbury Museum Festival of Archaeology 2019 a happy, wonderful (literally) occasion.

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Aspire

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Louise Tunnard, Marketing and Communications Officer, and lady without whom most of us wouldn’t know what we are doing, was in London recently. She writes…

“These are three images (see below) that I took at the Aspire National Network for Constable Studies Event at Tate Britain last Thursday, 11 July.

This was to celebrate the Aspire Partnership, where we worked with five partners, National Museum of Wales, Oriel y Parc, Ipswich and Colchester Museums and National Galleries of Scotland. Each of us took it in turns to host Constable’s ‘Great Salisbury’.

The Salisbury Museum has also recently worked with the team from Late at Tate, members of Katy England’s TSM Collective, and a famous graffiti artist – Carleen de Sozer. We hosted a graffiti workshop here and also had a graffiti tour of Salisbury Cathedral. All the young people met at Tate Britain on Saturday 6 July at an event called ‘Fete at Tate’ to create a work of graffiti art, inspired by Constable’s painting of Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows, exhibited 1831.

Photo from earlier ‘graffiti’ tour of the Cathedral

(There was also a) Lego Constable that was made at Tate Britain – inspired by our own.

‘Lego’ Constable

Volunteer, Christine Mason accompanied me.”

Tate, London

…an amazing opportunity..”

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I am Alex from one of our local schools and I chose to come to The Salisbury Museum for work experience because of my interest in history. I thought it would be a good opportunity to be behind the scenes in a museum and be able to see the objects not on display. Being at the museum for the week has educated me greatly in new topics as well as ones I have studied. In the week that I have been here, I have participated in lots of different activities, from cataloguing artefacts to shadowing a school trip. These are the things I got up to this week:

Monday 24th June

I arrived at the museum for 10am and was met at reception by Valerie. She showed me around the museum for the induction and orientation session. I was informed of the pins for the doors and the fire exits and what to do when I hear an alarm. Then, from 10:30 until 1pm I assisted Roy in cataloguing ceramics in the display rooms. This was interesting because I was able to handle the old ceramics and was able to describe them and give measurements. Once we had written down the descriptions and measurements, we entered them onto a file on the computer programme called Modes so they are saved there. Once I got back from lunch at 2pm, I met Valerie at reception again, to go to the library to do some research work on something of my choice. I chose to do Clarendon palace. This is because I was intrigued about the history of Clarendon palace and wanted to research this further. I did this task until the end of the day.

Tuesday 25th June

On Tuesday I met Owain at reception at 9:30 to shadow a school trip visit from one of the local primary schools. Owain gave a presentation on Old Sarum for the primary school which was interesting to watch. We then went over to the Wessex Gallery where the children were shown round and they were fascinated by what they saw there. They also had a task to draw Old Sarum from the model in the gallery, and to also draw a gargoyle. After lunch, they were shown round the Salisbury gallery – the giant, the drainage collection and different artefacts on display. We then went back to the lecture hall where we made our own Gargoyles.

Once the school trip had finished, I helped catalogue social history material from 2pm to the end of the day. This involved taking donated items out of their boxes and wrapping them up carefully in non-acidic paper. This was to preserve the items for years to come.

Wednesday 26th June

I arrived at the museum for 10am where I was met at reception by Pat and Tessa to help catalogue archaeological archives. This involved taking the artefacts out of the boxes and wrapping them up better in the non-acidic paper. The first item that we catalogued that morning was 5000 year old antlers that were found at Stonehenge, near the inner circle. These were used by the Stonehenge people to dig the hole for the stones to sit in as the antlers were used as picks or rakes. The next thing that we catalogued was loads of small boxes of animal bones and ceramics found at Stonehenge by Gowland in the early 20th century. These were contained in any boxes it seemed that Gowland could get his hands on. They were in old soap boxes, cardboard containers and metal containers. There was also one in a matchbox. We had to put the bones in a transparent plastic bag, the original label in another bag and put that back in the box which also goes in a bag with a new label added. At the end of this session, I was shown a Bronze Age sword from the archives which was great.

In the afternoon, from 1pm onwards, I was in the library finishing my research of Clarendon Palace. For this task I used the books in the library and also knowledge of the palace that I had picked up through my week at the museum. This is the basis of my other blog.

Thursday 27th June

I arrived at the museum for 10am once again, and was met at reception by Sue, Joan and Muriel. I helped them in cataloguing the costumes/ pieces of clothing donated by people to the museum. These items included a man’s jacket worn at his wedding in the 1920s, and a girl’s clothes from late Victorian times to early Edwardian. This was interesting because it gave an idea of how people used to dress in the early 20th century / late 19th century.

In the afternoon, I did admin support work. This was to correct booklets that were being given to volunteers. I did this by sticking labels over lines that had to be taken out, or by writing the correct information over the labels.  

Overall, this week has been a great week. It was an amazing opportunity working in the museum and seeing how it is all run and how much work has to be done. The staff here are very friendly and I have had great experiences being part of the Salisbury Museum – even just for a week.

Thank you Alex!

Five Senses

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Olivia, from whom we heard last week, has written about some porcelain which caught her eye…

I was fascinated by figures in the ceramics gallery, in particular the Five Senses from the Bow factory in the mid-eighteenth century, which was a porcelain factory that specialised in the manufacture of early soft-paste porcelain in Great Britain. The way that the abstract senses — touch, taste, hearing, sight and smell — are personified through a set of English porcelain figures is intriguing. These five emblematic figures, each with a distinctive pose, are all depicted in an intensely lively way, as if they are able to move at a next glance. The one that I found most interesting is Taste (the second one from left to right), which is represented as a seated youth drinking a blue glass of wine. The space between the glass and the boy’s mouth creates a subtle suspension, augmenting the effect of the illusion of movement. The other figures are also appealing and characteristic. Touch is portrayed as caressing a dog tenderly while Hearing revels in playing his lute. Sight is caught at the middle of her toilette, gazing into a mirror and Smell is depicted with a slight twist in her body, who gently turns her head as if being absorbed by some peculiar smell. Following the principle of the porcelain manufacture at the time, the figures are all set on high bases, which appear to resemble the curly shape of waves and are decorated with floral patterns. This set of allegorical figures also has an immensely ornamental function, which is shown through the delicate glazing and colouring. The costume of the figures are all painted with elegant flowers and decorative motifs by skilled hands. The material of porcelain allows a smooth and shiny surface, which perfectly fits with tranquil and serene atmosphere of the ceramics gallery.

I think this will have us all going up to look at the ceramics again…!

Stalingrad

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We were interested to read the blog post from Alan Crooks on 18 June about the Sword of Stalingrad, and the response comment ‘good to record a time of friendly relations with Russia’. This is not the only evidence of that in the Close! When we were researching for Salisbury Past some 20 years ago we found in the Museum’s ephemera collection a concert programme for 3 January 1943 (the Tehran Conference was held Nov – Dec 1943).

The front told us who was performing, and is signed ‘Best wishes Hubert’. Inside is the list of music played. But the words on the back really caught our attention; again it is evidence of Britain’s close relationship with Russia at the time, and brings home how Salisbury really was part of a global conflict:

“The proceeds of this entertainment will be handed to the Russian Ambassador for the provision of comforts for the heroic defenders of Stalingrad”

The Battle of Stalingrad was reaching its climax in January 1943; the Soviet victory over the German 6th Army was arguably the decisive battle of the war.

Jane Howells and Ruth Newman

“..priceless learning experience.”

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I am Artemis, a Lower Sixth international student from a local school. I do A-level History, English Language, and Psychology. As a student who is looking at Archaeology and cultural studies as a viable degree/career path, Salisbury Museum was really the best place for me to start.

During my week of work experience – as arranged by the wonderful Ms Bridget Telfer (without her I would not have had this incredible week) – there were chances to sit in with various cataloguing volunteers as well as opportunities to help out with learning activities for kids. I also had the privilege to use the museum’s hidden library, which held extensive information accumulated through the years. Being able to sit in a room full of old books on all sorts of topics ranging from BC through the 17th century to current date was absolutely mind-blowing – all the history and knowledge and stories, documented in words and objects and images, concentrated in one tiny room! It was absolutely wonderful.

MON – ceramics cataloguing and library research

TUE – school group visit and social artefact cataloguing

WED – archaeological and costume cataloguing

THUR – costume cataloguing and library research

FRI – Under 5’s Friday morning

As you can see the schedule was packed with all sorts of behind-the-scenes and hands-on activities that gave a feel of what was entailed in working at a museum in general. Every day was very fulfilling and informative; all the volunteers and staff were ever so friendly and enthusiastic about their work, and really helped with getting used to the museum’s system.

Although my main subject of interest in the museum was Archaeology, I came across the most wonderful thing while doing costume cataloguing. Along with a lawyer’s gorgeous velvet court suit, which had been very well-preserved and that dated back to 1907, its box also contained the rusted tip of the man’s decorative rapier. Now I’m a bit of a nut when it comes to swords and historical weaponry, and even though the tip was only approx. 220mm long, I took about 30 pictures of it in different angles, trying to catch the light so that you can clearly see the blade:

Being able to hold such objects, I think, is really the most wondrous and fascinating part of history and historical preservation. Of course the same thing went for all the other cataloguing that I did, such as the immense number of bone fragments that we were handling so carefully in the archaeology storage, and the delicate microscope slides from the 19th century that were in beautiful leather boxes in the social history cupboards.

One of the most valuable things I have gleaned from this experience is that if you are willing to ask, people in the field are likely willing to help. After a lunchtime discussion with Mr Owain Hughes, Learning Officer, I now have contacts to staff personnel at the Wessex archaeology project – a prospect that would have been beyond imagination were I still studying in Hong Kong (my home and city). My main interest in archaeology lies further in mythological areas, but regardless, the possibility of being able to actually watch an excavation – and possibly even help out!!! – makes me absolutely jittery with excitement. And imagine how impressed university admissions officers would be…!

None of this would have been accomplished without the museum giving me this opportunity of a week-long student placement. From the depths of my heart, thank you sincerely to all who I’ve come in contact with through this priceless learning experience. And a huge thank you to the Salisbury Museum.

This warms the cockles of my heart!

“…a huge thank you.”

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At this time of year it is always very busy at the museum, as we welcome students from a variety of institutions – school, colleges and Universities – who opt to join us for a while as part of their on-going experiential education…

Here is another, Olivia…

Before the summer holiday, I spent a week working with the Salisbury Museum. As an ambitious art history student, this was the perfect place where I wanted my work placement to be. I was assigned to do a variety of tasks working with different people during the week, which allowed me to learn a lot about the way that a museum works ‘backstage’.

I started my week at the museum by cataloguing ceramics collections with the friendly volunteer Roy Wilde. I was immersed in the tranquil atmosphere of the ceramics gallery and all the beautifully crafted potteries. To begin with, Roy showed me several types of jugs and bough pots with different modelling. We discussed how a museum person would describe pottery in a professional manner and I learned the way to measure each item accurately. Roy then introduced Modes, which is the software that the museum uses to catalogue the archives, giving me a taste of how the cataloging of collections works in such an organised and logical way. In the afternoon I was given an informative spotlight tour of the museum, which deepened my understanding of the history of the museum and each gallery.

Other assignments included lending a helping hand to visitors. On Tuesday, I assisted with a primary school visit to the museum. As the theme of the day was ‘surviving the Stone Age’, I helped set up the lecture hall and the game for the children. It was a fabulous chance to get involved with an educational and interesting programme that the museum designs to introduce basic skills of archaeology to the next generation. Apart from this, I had a lot of fun working with kids!

I also enjoyed the costume cataloguing, and was shown some precious male court dress and an intricate hand-embroidered skirt. It has given me an opportunity to learn about the historical context of the costume and the significance of the materials. Beyond my expectations, I found cataloguing the social history collections immensely absorbing, which I hadn’t realised before. We examined a large number of fascinating collections dating from centuries ago. For instance, we looked at some extremely exquisite English seals from the 18th century, including one of Shakespeare! We also catalogued a set of roundels with incredibly detailed and ornamental printings that represents each month. Besides being intrigued by these magnificent curios, I was taught how to wrap and label each item properly.

It has been an absolutely amazing week. I’ve had a chance to work in different areas of the museum and have definitely learnt various aspects about a museum workplace. Salisbury Museum has such a lovely team working in a relaxed and friendly environment, where everyone is so accommodating and helpful. All I can say to the museum is a huge thank you.

And thank you, Olivia!

Free Art for Volunteers, and Others

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Southampton University students have been in the museum today. Having been excavating at Old Sarum they have a ‘cross curricula’ opportunity to create art using the history and landscape as their inspiration.

From today until Friday 19 July, Volunteers are invited to take part in these workshops. They happen every weekday and we are welcome at just one, or more, from 10am to 4pm. Bookings via Bridget.

Some of us joined in last year and it was relaxing and fun. No previous experience needed. Almost like being young again!