The Lecture Hall has been packed today for another of our half-term holiday activities. Thank you to all our Volunteers who make these things possible!
She had wondered, for years, what was the strange creature carved into the woodwork of her 17th century cottage.
Endless research and requests to experts had revealed nothing. Then, a chance visit to the Five Rivers Leisure Centre set her on her way to the answer.
It was there that she saw this:
City Story: Historic Past, Creative Future was a museum HLF funded project led by our own Katy England, with young people taking part in afterschool clubs, Saturday workshops for young carers and sessions for schools and colleges at the museum.
The 11 – 18 year olds had been working with inspiring local artists to explore the extraordinary objects in the museum’s Salisbury History and Costume collections.
A young man involved with the project had chosen the museum figure of the Harpy for his inspiration and produced the remarkable image we see above.
The lady spotted the print and knew immediately it was her strange creature. She sent this email to the museum:
I recently visited the Leisure Centre in Salisbury and noticed a picture in the reception area which is part of the City Art Project run by Salisbury Museum. I live in a listed cottage in Tisbury (circa 1620) and have a figure on an old door which is exactly like one of the figures in one of the pieces of work in the leisure centre. I have tried for years to identify this figure and all sorts of experts (including the listed buildings team, experts on historic buildings, experts from Devizes, local historians, internet searches etc) have failed to recognise it, saying that they have never seen anything like it before. I hope I have attached a picture of my figure which is only a few centimetres in height and is pinned onto an ancient door. The picture in the leisure centre is an exact replica and looks like some sort of lino print – bright yellow.
Can you help me find what the artist’s source of inspiration was? I presume that it is some object in the museum. Brigid Budd
The mystery was solved! Katy replied with this email:
I have some information for you on the artefact in the museum that closely resembles the figure on your cottage door.
It was originally thought to be a representation of St Michael, but when Brian Spencer (the expert who wrote up The Salisbury Museum catalogue) examined the object in 1986 he identified it as the following:
“Decorative pin or badge in the form of a grotesque, probably derived from the harpy, a mythological monster with the head and breast of a woman and the wings and claws of a bird of prey. Though the harpy was often associated with evil, it was used in heraldry as a form of decoration. Combination of brass pin and lead alloy ornament seems to have been a 16th century practice (Brian Spencer, 1986).”
I have mentioned your story to Peter Saunders (the previous director of The Salisbury Museum and an expert in the Salisbury History collection) and Peter has suggested that if the image was attached to a door, it may have been put there as a talisman to ward off evil trying to enter. Also, it fits the date of your cottage!
Katy arranged for the lady to have a framed print of the Harpy and, in return, the museum received a generous donation and Katy enjoyed the gift of a most delicious carrot cake!
Katy and the museum have been successful in a further bid, this time from the Esme Fairbairn Collections Fund, for further work with young people. See https://www.museumsassociation.org/news/05122017-esmee-fairbairn-collections-fund-successful-applicants for details.
Our Exhibitions Officer, Joyce Paeson, is leaving us (see her letter below) but she has left us with a tempting taste of what is coming up at the museum…
Terry Pratchett has left the building and Brian Graham has moved in. But Terry went out with a bang:
The new exhibition has been quite a change of scene for the museum! Luckily I have had the help of a wonderful team of volunteers to help me de-install, paint the rooms and set up the new exhibition. Below you can see them in action!
Sue Martin and Sophia Sample helping me to set up the Brian Graham exhibition
Brian Graham: Towards Music (27/01/2018 – 12/05/2018). This exhibition represents a unique interpretation of the evolution of music and dance. By creating a series of 40 painted reliefs, Brian takes us on a visual journey, exploring how he imagines the beginnings of music-making and dance. This body of work also reflects his research in fields beyond art and encompasses science, archaeology and anthropology. Each of the works is dedicated to a piece of music, a composer or a significant figure from the world of music and dance. The results are stunning and eloquent works, which inspire us to think about our ancestors living long ago, and how they communicated through sound and movement and the ultimate joy of this.
There is a list of music available on Spotify to listen to. Just type in Brian Graham. It is a selection of Brian’s favourites.
The exhibition ends on the 12th of May. After that we welcome Henry Lamb: Out of the Shadows (26/05/2018 – 30/09/2018).
This will be the first major retrospective on the artist since the exhibition at the Manchester City Art Galleries in 1984. The Exhibition is co-curated by Harry Moore-Gwyn, an independent curator, dealer and writer on modern British art, whose previous shows have included Kenneth Rowntree (Pallant House Gallery, Chichester and Fry Art Gallery, Saffron Walden), Laurie Lee (Royal Geographical Society) and Walter Bonner Gash (Alfred East Gallery, Kettering). This exhibition is a partnership between Salisbury Museum and Poole Museums through the Wessex Museums Partnership.
Henry Lamb (Adelaide 21 June 1883 – Salisbury 8 October 1960) was one of the leading British figurative painters of the first part of the twentieth century. A close associate of Augustus John, patron of Stanley Spencer and friends with members of the Bloomsbury Group he was also a founder member of the Camden Town Group in 1911. He was a very accomplished musician and trained as a doctor, friends describing him as a well read, erudite conversationalist. He became a trustee of the National Portrait Gallery (1942) and the Tate Gallery (1944). He became an Associate of the Royal Academy in 1940 and a full Academician in 1949.
Portraiture played an important role in his career as a painter, but his townscapes and landscapes as well as his early subject pictures of Ireland and Brittany and his work in both World Wars reveal him to be a painter of considerable range and talent. This show will give a full retrospective of his work.
Gola Island, 1913, Private Collection
The last major exhibition of 2018 will be a touring exhibition from the British Museum on hoards. We are currently working together with the British Museum on the object list. The partners will be:
Ulster Museum, NMNI, 18 Jan – 31 Mar 2019
Buxton Museum and Art Gallery, 13 Apr – 16 Jun 2019
Brading Roman Villa, 28/29 Jul – 28 Sep 2019
Hull and East Riding Museum, Oct – Dec 2019
Salisbury Museum will be the first venue!
Our Exhibitions Officer is returning home…
My last day at the office and before I leave for new pastures, I wanted to write to you all. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here at the museum. Over the years, I have been part of creating some wonderful exhibitions (British Art: Ancient Landscapes, John Craxton: A Poetic Eye, John Hinchcliffe) and met some lovely and interesting people. I will be sad not to see Henry Lamb: Out of the Shadows going up in our gallery but I will definitely will come and see it when it is finished!
A special thanks to Christine Mason, David Chilton and Bob Hambling for always helping me with painting and setting up the exhibition.
My new job will be as Heritage Coordinator for the Lower Campine Region in Belgium. It is for an organisation that helps city councils with heritage related issues and questions. A bit like English Heritage but Belgian Heritage. One of my first projects will be around Celtic Field systems and opening them to the public. This is very exciting as I did a lot of research on prehistoric field systems and did my dissertation on Celtic Field systems in particular.
It will be nice to live closer to my family but I will miss the UK and all my friends. It has become my second home.
I wish the museum all the best of luck for the exciting future coming up.
All best, Joy
Very best wishes Joy. You will be missed.
It’s ‘all change’ in the Finds Office this week, with two sad ‘farewells’.
Nina Dierks (above left), our latest intern, from Germany, has been with us for several months. Her colleague, Fiona Johnstone (above right), acting Finds Liaison Officer for the last year, describes her protege as “brilliant”.
Sadly, both are leaving us this week. For Nina it is simply time to move on. Born in Munich, she is a student of Leipzig and Bonn Universities and in the process of working towards her Bachelor’s degree. She is possibly taking up work in historic building conservation in London before returning home, and we wish her well with that. We will miss her.
Nina has very much enjoyed her time with us, but when asked if anything has surprised her about England, she said she had expected cold and wet, but windy as well….?! We told her it was the Atlantic effect….
Fiona has been acting FLO for a year while Wiltshire FLO Richard Henry was curating the excellent and successful Terry Pratchett exhibition. Richard will be back with us next week and Fiona will move on.
Fiona was formerly a Volunteer with us, moving on to an internship in Hampshire and Sussex. She returned when the temporary post here became available. She has progressed from volunteering to training others in the identification of archaeological finds. From the Channel Islands, Fiona read Ancient History at Edinburgh University, graduating in 2015, and is now looking at FLO posts elsewhere. She has come a long way! We will miss Fiona too, and wish both these ladies well.
From Francesca Goff, of the British Museum…
At the end of November last year, I spent a fascinating week at Salisbury Museum as part of the British Museum’s Knowledge Exchange programme, a scheme that is supported by the Vivmar Foundation. Having heard excellent things about the programme from colleagues who had previously taken part, I was looking forward to the prospect of spending a week at a different museum learning about its volunteers and all that they did. Additionally, having already hosted Bridget Telfer, Volunteer Co-ordinator at Salisbury Museum, at the British Museum, I was pleased to have the opportunity to catch up with her and continue the conversations we had started about the volunteer programmes at our respective museums. However, I had not realised how beneficial my week in Salisbury would be, nor how much I would enjoy my time there.
Ahead of my arrival, Bridget planned a really exciting week of activities for me, with plenty of opportunities to get to know Salisbury Museum, its staff and its dedicated volunteers. My week began with a wonderful tour of the galleries by volunteer Paul Marsh. He seemed to know something about just about everything, and was full of interesting stories about what at first glance seemed the most innocuous looking objects. As coordinator of the volunteer-led tours of the British Museum and having delivered tours myself as a volunteer elsewhere, it was really interesting to hear about volunteer-led tours at Salisbury, and Bridget and I later discussed how these could be developed in the future.
I met with numerous staff over the course of the week, including Fiona Johnstone who works with the Portable Antiques Scheme, who I was pleased to discover had been a former volunteer at the British Museum. Each person I spoke to was full of praise about the volunteers who supported their work and it became clear that the volunteers were an essential part of the museum. I was lucky to have my visit coincide with a Volunteer Coffee Morning, during which Louise Tunnard, the Communications Officer, gave an in-depth talk to the volunteers about marketing Salisbury Museum. She was followed by two volunteers, Gail Davis and Kate Wickson, who spoke about their recent research on pilgrim badges. This prompted a discussion between the assembled volunteers and it was great fun to see everyone exchanging ideas. We have recently started hosting volunteer coffee mornings at the British Museum and participating in a similar event at Salisbury Museum gave me lots of room for thought.
Volunteer coffee morning at Salisbury Museum
The enthusiasm of staff was reflected by the many volunteers who I spent time with during my week in Salisbury. Volunteer Christine Mason spoke to me about the ‘Talking Objects’ project, which whilst on a smaller scale, is similar to the British Museum’s Hands-on Desks – but at Salisbury volunteers are able to select their own objects to show visitors with the assistance of Adrian Green, Director of Salisbury Museum. I found out about the vast amount of work volunteers have contributed to the ‘Finding Pitt-Rivers’ project; spent a cosy couple of hours with some of the Costume Project volunteers who were kind enough to bring out one of their favourite objects; and shadowed a school session led by Learning Officer Owain Hughes and volunteer Ian Dixon, an ex-teacher whose experience shone through
Bridget had also arranged visits to three other organisations supported by volunteers. I was fortunate enough to attend a volunteer-led Tower Tour at Salisbury Cathedral, for example, and looked down as Salisbury Museum from on high. On my last day in Salisbury, we took an excursion out to the Priest’s House Museum in Wimborne Minster and then visited Poole Museum, where we met their wonderful garden volunteers, out tending their plants despite the chilly weather. At each of these places it came through again and again how vital volunteers were to each organisation and how much they were valued. I was reminded constantly of how much support is given by volunteers to museums and galleries all over the UK, something which we celebrate annually at the British Museum through the Marsh Award for Volunteers in Museum Learning, and I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to meet some of those people who give their time and support for free.
Tower tour image of Salisbury Museum
My week at Salisbury Museum was enjoyable, useful and thought-provoking and I am enormously glad I had the chance to spend a week there through the Knowledge Exchange programme. Although there are differences between the volunteer programmes at the British Museum and Salisbury Museum in terms of size and specific roles, those are outweighed by similarities and the dedication shown by all volunteers involved in them. I wish the volunteers and staff at Salisbury Museum the best going forwards and want to say thank you to everyone who helped host me throughout the week.
Joanna Arnott was with us before Christmas….
Earlier this year I began a twenty-five day student placement with the learning department at the museum, and what an exciting and interesting experience I had! I am a part time student at Bath Spa University studying for an MA in Heritage Management, which I began in September 2016 after a 25 year career as a primary school teacher and adviser. I had heard about the excellent outreach work that the learning department at Salisbury Museum were doing and felt that this would be really useful for me to learn about.
Along with Owain Hughes (the Salisbury Museum Learning Officer) and the learning volunteers, I visited several schools to help with the Mini Museum project. Each school was different in the way they approached the project and I helped children to make a variety of objects for their own school museum, everything from Roman sandals to a desert island! It was really interesting to see how museum learning could take place in the community. At the same time I carried out some research for a university assignment called “The Town Museum: Making a difference or just a ‘bad habit’.” I used data collected from visitors to several Wiltshire town museums and Salisbury Museum came out very positively in being viewed as making a difference to the local community. Through helping with the Mini Museum project I was able to see this in action.
I was also asked to design a trail for young children for the Terry Pratchett exhibition. I devised a trail where the children have to tear a hole in their trail to look through, and then have to hunt for the bronze Nac Mac Feagles which are hidden in the museum galleries. I also helped Joyce Paesen (the Salisbury Museum Exhibitions Officer) set the exhibition up which was a very exciting experience especially when the BBC arrived to film! I learnt how to prepare paintings (thank you Joyce for being patient with my terrible screw driver skills) how to hang them at eye level and how an exhibition unfolds. It was an honour to attend the private viewing of the exhibition.
I would like to Richard Henry for letting me design the trail, and Owain for his support and advice throughout the placement, which I very much appreciated. And a big thank you to all the staff and volunteers who made me feel so welcome.
Thank you Joanna, and best wishes