Urban Canvas (“We..paint anything on anything”) provided Easter creativity and fun at the museum over the weekend. What could be more appropriate than mosaics?
More than two hundred attended, and just look at the results…
Two gatherings took place recently to mark the publication of our own Richard Henry’s Fifty Finds From Wiltshire, with brisk sales following these two events. The first was here at Salisbury Museum, attended by fifty or so local landowners, metal detectorists and Volunteers. The occasion was by way of thanks to all of those who have contributed to the Portable Antiquities Scheme, and in some way to the book.
Everyone had a tour ‘backstage’ at the museum, led by Director Adrian Green or by Richard himself. This was very much enjoyed, and an ‘eye-opener’ for those for whom this was a first visit.
The second gathering was last Friday at the Wiltshire Museum in Devizes, where, as at Salisbury Museum, many of the finds described in the book are on display.
The book is on sale in the Salisbury Museum shop at £14.99. There is a ten percent reduction for volunteers!
After our sad farewell to Constable we look forward to ‘British Art: Ancient Landscapes’ opening on Saturday 8 April. Our new Events booklet also draws attention to the amazing series of talks, walks and complementary exhibitions associated with the works of Turner, Ravilious, Piper, Hepworth, Moore and, yes, Constable, and others, all on display until 3 September. One of the talks is by Professor Sam Smiles who curated the exhibition. This includes a private viewing – Wednesday 26 April 6pm. Book soon!
From our website this week. Well worth a look…
Back in September 2016 we announced a Rainbow Photographic Competition, inviting photographers to capture a rainbow over the skies of Salisbury. This was inspired by John Constable’s painting ‘Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows’ on display at the museum. We are thrilled to announce the prize winners are First – Martin Cook, Second – Marie Jones and Third – Alan Clarke. Here is Martin’s award-winning image. Thanks also to the Salisbury Branch of London Camera Exchange, who donated the prizes. The winning photographs will go on display at the museum soon. See all the entries on YouTube https://youtu.be/Z8DXRnzOtwg
Hot off the press and in fact, not even published yet! Our own Richard Henry, Wiltshire’s Finds Liaison Officer, based here at The Salisbury Museum, was commissioned to write the latest in the series ‘Fifty Finds From…’, in this case, of course, Wiltshire.
The book is effectively an excellent history of the county from Neolithic to post medieval times, through discoveries that have been made by local detectorists and others, and which have been passed to Richard and his team to process for the Portable Antiquities Scheme.
Beautifully and copiously illustrated, one of the joys of this book is that we see the history of the county through the items owned and used, often manufactured by, the local people. At the same time, we see an early world which nevertheless had links far and wide, for many of these items were imported. What journeys they must have known!
Watch for a further review of this book in the coming weeks. Meanwhile you will be able to buy it via the museum shop after 15th March. Don’t miss it!
Meanwhile, museum PAS Volunteers (particularly Alyson Tanner, Claire Goodey and Jane Hanbidge) all have their work included here. Well done to all concerned, especially Richard himself.
After over one hundred Members, volunteers and friends of the museum attended a guided walk over the meadows recently, Dr Hadrian Cook – teacher, lecturer, researcher, writer and long-time associate of the Harnham Water Meadows Trust – gave a fascinating talk on it all at the museum last week.
Again, about a hundred attended, and it was yet another of those wonderful lectures when you knew the speaker could have talked, and the audience happily listened, for hours. The history of the meadows, set against the changing fortunes and requirements of agriculture over the ages, was interesting, of course, but, to those of us with limited background in science, that side of it was a revelation. The late medieval and early modern farmer would not have considered himself a scientist but he obviously knew his land, and nature, and made maximum use of the meadows. Dr Cook explained that, in the end, here in Salisbury, the sheep, grazed on the meadow, were little more than a mechanism for ensuring the arable fields on the sides of the hills were kept manured (see earlier blog for how that worked out). They had long since ceased to be important for their wool, or even of much importance, in the greater scheme of things, for their meat.
It was also interesting to learn a little about the engineering involved in making sure that the flooding of the meadows worked as it was intended to do. It was nothing so simple as just digging a few ditches. The intricate arrangement of leats – top carriers and carriers, all at the right levels – hatches (to control flow) and drains must have been something learned by the locals over time. It had to work properly, or the grass would just rot if left wet. Then there were causeways and sometimes aqueducts to build too!
It was the advent of artificial fertilizers that contributed to the end of water meadows. What have we lost…?
Wow! It was a truly amazing day at the museum last week.
We had over 705 visitors, picking up 65,280 bits of LEGO and putting them onto 1,020 LEGO tiles. In exactly six hours we made a complete LEGO version of Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows. This is now on display in the Main Exhibition Galleries, opposite the real thing. The plan is for the work to stay there until the end of the month, when it will go on display in Salisbury Library.
Several new events have been added to the list for the month of March, of such variety that there is something for everyone. You may even find them all irresistible…
On Wednesday 1 March, at 6.30pm, in the magnificent King’s Room, Simon Jackson, a qualified Master Brewer, will speak about the history of brewing and about the wide range of beer styles. The evening will include tasting opportunities, of beer and appropriate cheeses. Tickets £15.Enjoy!
Saturday 18 March, at 2.30pm, is the date for a rehearsed reading, entitled ‘The Fisher Letters’. Mark Honan, actor, whom some of you will know, and Fraser Wilson, actor and TV presenter, will offer something unusual, interesting and lively based on correspondence between Constable and his great friend Fisher. Tea and biscuits and an opportunity to visit the Constable in Context exhibition included. Fabulous value at £10.
…a talk by Nicholas Alfrey, Thursday 23 March, 6pm Private View (incl wine), 7pm Talk £12
A fascinating look at whether or not, or to what extent, the English landscape painting of Constable and Turner had an influence on French impressionists. Nicholas is Honorary Research Associate in the Dept of History of Art at the University of Nottingham. What better person to guide us through this…?
Dr Alixe Bovey, a specialist in the art and culture of the later Middle Ages, will tell us about Hobnob and much, much more….
Thursday 30 March 6.30pm £8
Over one hundred Members, Volunteers and members of the public set off across Salisbury water meadows last Saturday to learn about how the meadows have been managed, and still are, to provide early grazing for local sheep.
The throng gathered at Rose Cottage by the Old Mill at West Harnham, Rose Cottage being the headquarters of the Harnham Water Meadows Trust. It was a beautiful morning despite forecasts of rain, and early snowdrops were in evidence. Split into two groups, one on a slightly longer walk led by a bowler-hatted* Dr Hadrian Cook, the other led by Janet Fitzjohn, Chair of the Trust, we enjoyed fascinating insight and wonderful views.
Who knew that our local sheep do not produce droppings during daylight hours? Thus they can be left to graze on the meadows during the day and then be taken onto the arable fields at night to manure as required! And how many Salisbury residents are aware that possibly the oldest alder tree in Europe (the world?) is by the Nadder – perhaps as old as 300 years?
More seriously, we learned about the hatches which hold the river water back until needed to flood, and so warm, the meadows, and provide early grass. We saw the leats which take the water onto the grass, and the drains which allow it to return to the river. It is important not to allow the water to lie, as stagnant water rots the grass rather than encouraging it.
Huge care is taken, today, by the Trust, to conserve the meadows, with attention paid to wildlife habitats, appropriate planting and so on. While the public cannot wander freely across them, we can all enjoy the views across them from the Town Path and the Trust will very happily organise walks (click on link above for details of these, and more about the work of the Trust, membership, etc).
This walk was part of the range of talks and activities which Salisbury Museum has organised as part of the Constable in Context exhibition, NB this exhibition continues until 25 March. To read more about water meadows click here and more about conservation click here.