Click here for tickets on-line. Talk takes place in the South Transept of the Cathedral.
Hello! I’m Emily Smith and I have recently started working at Salisbury Museum as the Creative Wiltshire Exhibition Assistant. I work one day a week and my job is to organise an exhibition which celebrates creativity in Wiltshire and which will run from January to May 2019.
This is not my first time at the museum as I previously worked as a gallery steward for the Cecil Beaton, J M W Turner and Terry Pratchett exhibitions. I have also been a collections and an admin volunteer.
I have grown up around Salisbury and have just moved to the city so this is a great opportunity for me to learn more about local artists. I am hoping this role will give me valuable experience of how to design and organise an exhibition which is what I would like to do after I finish my PhD.
My name is Jack Doveton, I am 16 years old and I am starting Sixth Form at Bishop Wordsworth’s School this September. Having finished taking my GCSEs in the middle of last June, I found myself with a lot of time on my hands. And in order to put this time to the best use, voluntary work at the Salisbury Museum seemed like a brilliant thing to do. After all, I am studying history at Sixth Form and possibly at university so the museum seemed like a particularly fitting place.
I have lived in Salisbury for most of my life so far, and so I had already been to the museum a few times in the past: in Year 7 for example I visited with my art class from school one afternoon to sketch artefacts. Aside from spending a small period of time as a school librarian, this was to be my very first work experience, so naturally I was excited yet slightly apprehensive before starting.
My placement, albeit short, entailed voluntary work at two of the museum’s key summer events: the Festival of Archaeology and the Discovery Days. So, after a brief visit and a string of emails, I found myself in the midst of the hustle and bustle which was the festival. As I put a bright orange lanyard around my neck, I realised that for the first time, I had responsibility. When the visitors were in doubt about something, they might turn to me, and so I had to act accordingly. Though in spite of being new to voluntary work, both afternoons of the festival turned out to be fantastic. I was very fortunate to be placed helping out with the running of the Lecture Hall, working with a friendly team of volunteers and even being able to watch the fascinating lectures. They’ve given me an unexpected, but nonetheless welcome, understanding of archaeological processes in the context of projects – from the restoration of the Mary Rose to Phil Harding’s excavation at the museum which have illustrated to myself (along with many others) just how interesting a subject it is. However, it wasn’t long until I was walking home on Sunday from the festival, and it felt as though the event had flown by. Soon after I went off on holiday, but when I arrived home it was time to go back for the Discovery Days.
In all, I was only able to help on the last two of the Discovery Days, but these events were, again, a new and enriching experience for me. As a young child, I had participated in many activity days like this, but this was my first experience helping to run such an event. On my first week, the theme was vegetable printing in a style resembling the work of Henry Lamb – but when over 30 children turned up that afternoon, mess was inevitably going to be produced. Despite that, I was once again placed with a friendly group of fellow volunteers and the event was fun to help with. The output of artwork was vast: vegetables of all shapes and sizes (and sometimes hands and feet) were used to make prints in all manners of styles.
In the following week, we were making collage portraits. That week, the emphasis seemed to be more upon quality than quantity, and although the turnout was slightly smaller, the children who were present rose to the challenge and used the watercolours, graphite, paper, pens and pencils to produce masterpieces.
I produced some Henry Lamb-inspired portraits of my own, which I was rather proud of, despite myself being somewhat so terrible at art, particularly drawing faces!
Yet again, I immensely enjoyed helping at an event. This recent work experience has certainly broadened my horizons and I hope to continue to volunteer at the museum: an enriching local institution for everyone.
Thank you Jack…
Have you seen the delightful Moonraker plate, on loan from Wiltshire Museum as part of our Made in Wessex: Spotlight Loans feature? It was made by artist Mary White (1926 – 2013) in the 1970s and donated to Wiltshire Museum by Margaret Couzens who composed the legend.
Ellen Castelow writes this on the Historic UK website
Between the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries the wool produced from the English County of Wiltshire was known and prized all over Europe because of its superb quality.
Dutch and Flemish merchants had permanent headquarters in the Wiltshire town of Swindon, attracted there by the high profit obtained from the wool trade.
But there was a problem!
The merchant’s favourite tipple was Hollands Gin, but that carried a heavy import duty.
The solution for the Wiltshiremen seemed obvious, they would have to smuggle in the barrels of spirit and so avoid the import duty.
By the mid-sixteenth century they had established a smuggling operation that would run for more than 200 years. The barrels of spirit were landed in quiet coves on the Hampshire coast and brought up to Swindon by night.
The barrels were hidden during the day in church crypts or in village ponds. The green weed in the ponds concealed the barrels beautifully.
But one night it all went wrong.
The story is, that in either Bishop Cannings, or All Cannings (two villages reputed to be heavily involved in smuggling), the villagers were raking their kegs out of the village pond when they were surprised by a patrol of Excisemen.
The Wiltshire smugglers, with a flash of inspiration, pretended to be idiots, gibbering and grimacing at the Excisemen.
They pointed to the moon’s reflection in the pond and told the officials that they were trying to rake out a piece of the moon that had fallen from the sky.
They were so persuasive and acted their parts as ‘mental defectives’ so well that the Excisemen just laughed at this example of rustic simplicity and rode on.
But Wiltshiremen are called ‘Moonrakers’ to this day!
Discovery Tuesdays have been a hit again this year. We have had everything from music to lanterns, and today it has been printing – with vegetables! Many youngsters might well say that dipping cauliflower in paint to create clouds on the page is the best thing to do with it!
Thank you to those who bring the children, to the incredibly creative people who put on the activities, and to you, the Volunteers, without whom the events could not happen!
Volunteer Catherine O’Sullivan cleans paint off aprons!
Here is a contented grandmother who said Discovery Tuesday meant her grand-daughter had a rest from her for the day!
Alex Hoare, helping the youngsters in this photo, has organised and led this activity. She is a very talented artist (with and without vegetables) and specialises in glass. Thank you Alex for spending the day with us.
Continuing my quest to visit every site featured in the 2017 temporary exhibition, ‘British Art: Ancient Landcapes’, last week my wife and I visited the Devil’s Den, near Marlborough. This is a neolithic passage tomb, thought to be about 5000 years old, and featured in at least two of the artworks in the exhibition. One was John Piper’s 1981 cartoon for the stained glass window in Wiltshire Museum, Devizes (Fig. 1) and the other was in a cabinet in Gallery 1 which, if I recall correctly, was A.C. Smith’s ‘Cromlech in Clatford Bottom – The Devil’s Den’, (Fig. 2).
The Devil’s Den was first recorded in 1723 by the antiquarian, William Stukeley, whose illustrations show a long barrow of considerable length with several large sarsen stones, of which only three remain today, arranged similarly to a Welsh cromlech.
As pointed out by various commentators on ‘Trip Adviser’, the Devil’s Den is not easy to find and it’s difficult to get to as it’s on private land, albeit with permissive access, and with no convenient parking. Not having an appropriate Ordance Survey map to hand, I had to rely on an aged Readers Digest/AA Book of the Road, on which the Devil’s Den wasn’t marked. Hence I downloaded the route from the AA Classic Routefinder, which instructed us to leave Salisbury on the A345, turn right onto the A4 towards Marlborough and then take the first left towards Fyfield Farm.
This particular lane was marked ‘No Public Vehicular Access’, so we parked on the verge at the start of the lane. I walked back to a finger post to check that it directed us to the Devil’s Den, but it was just a ‘bald’ sign with no directions to anywhere marked!
We walked up the incline to the end (Fyfield Farm). En route we met a delivery van coming the other way and stopped him to ask if the lane led to the Devil’s Den and were surprised to hear he’d never heard of it. This was another experience shared with commentators to ‘Trip Adviser’! At Fyfield Farm we again asked directions and this time were directed along a u-shaped track between hedges. The lady confirmed that there were no signposts to the Devil’s Den, and further assured us that we would be the only people there!
At the end of the track was a gate into a field warning us to ‘Beware of the bull’ (Fig. 3) … but the cromlech was nowhere in sight!
Climbing a hillock, I was relieved to see the cromlech, still some distance away across a field. This field was dotted with large boulders (Fig. 4) of which we’d seen several more on the approach lane and track – a classic glacial boulder field, and presumably the source of the Stonehenge sarsen stones. As noted by others on ‘Trip Adviser’ the paths leading to the cromlech/dolmen1 are not well worn and, in fact, are very indistinct, indicating that the monument is not frequently visited.
On arrival we found an impressive structure consisting of two standing stones, a capstone and two fallen stones (Fig. 5) , these being all that remain of what was the entrance to a long mound thought to have been about 230 feet long. The capstone is believed to weigh in excess of 17 tons.
As might be expected with an ancient tomb, there is much folklore associated with the Devil’s Den. Indeed, the Devil himself, is said to yoke up four white oxen in an attempt to dislodge the capstone. Another local tradition says that if water is poured into hollows in the capstone (Fig. 6), the water mysteriously vanishes during the night having been consumed by the demon who haunts it. Yet another tale concerns the eerie baying of a hound at night.
When we visited, these hollows contained evidence of substances having been burned in them, as I’ve witnessed still happens at Stonehenge during the solstices.
Having spent a good half hour at the Devil’s Den we made our way back, lingering to harvest a good 2lb of blackberries in the lane, which we’d spotted earlier, and later that evening made into a delicious blackberry crumble.
Also on the way home we stopped to take photographs of the White Horse at Alton Barnes, another site which featured in British Art: Ancient Landscapes.
- The word ‘dolmen’, is thought to be a derivative of ‘dillion’, meaning boundary mound.
As part of the Old Sarum Landscapes Project 2018, a collaboration between the Universities of Southampton and of Swansea, art sessions were organised in the museum earlier in July. Work by University students, Volunteers and children from Stratford sub Castle CE Primary school appears below, with apologies that we couldn’t include it all!
The Old Sarum Landscapes Project, a collaboration between the University of Southampton and the University of Swansea, is continuing its excavations near Stratford sub Castle this summer (more news of this later) and we look forward to the talk by Alex Langlands this week on this very topic.
Meanwhile, as part of the project, Volunteers and students from Southampton Archaeology have been collaborating for more than a week now on an art activity associated with the project.
This Volunteer, always happy to have a go with pen, pencil or brush, arrived one day last week, and with another Volunteer and a talented young History student, Sam, and were introduced to things by Luke Sollars. Luke is a freelance archaeologist who is usually to be found in Egypt, in an office behind the temple at Karnak (!), but he is also a bit of an artist.
The room was piled high with papers, paints, glue, scissors, pastels, pencils, pens and ink. At first the brief seemed very odd – produce artwork based on Old Sarum or other archaeological landscapes showing the link with the archaeological methods and processes. We all got going, however, and the remarkable results can be seen this weekend at ArchFest, and at the Society of Antiquaries Open Day on 27th July.
This was another lovely opportunity for Salisbury Museum Volunteers. Did you miss it?
Monday 9th July – Tuesday 24 July inclusive (excluding weekends) :
Daily art workshops, with a tutor, for Volunteers at the museum, with small groups of University of Southampton archaeology students who are also learning.
These are being organised by the Department of Archaeology at the University of Southampton as part of the Old Sarum excavation project.
Create works of art based on Old Sarum, using pen and ink, charcoal or pencil, watercolour, linocut and similar. The artwork produced will then be used in a final display for the Festival of Archaeology at Salisbury Museum; at a day event in the Society of Antiquaries; and will be used in the future for the Old Sarum Landscapes Project.
Would you like to take part? Some details:
· Workshops will run each day from 10am-4pm at the museum
· You only need to commit to one workshop – but you can opt to do more if you would like
· The workshops run from Monday 9 July – Tuesday 24 July (week days only)
· Each workshop can only accommodate 2 volunteers – you need to book via me
· All equipment will be provided – there will be no cost for the workshop
· There will be a tutor to give support and advice
· No prior experience in necessary
Do let me know if you would like to book onto one of the workshops: firstname.lastname@example.org 01722 332151