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.
Museum Volunteer Caroline Lanyon is part of a Sadler’s Wells success story….
Currently sold out is Sadler’s Wells’ production of Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella.
The story began for us back in December when our own Caroline Lanyon (NADFAS and museum Volunteer) sent this exciting email:
I’m afraid I can’t come in to the Museum this afternoon, or on the 12th Dec, owing to commercial work. Having taken on a commission to make a balldress for ‘Cinderella’ in Matthew Bourne’s ballet of the same name- it was too successful, and I was asked to make a second one with a very tight deadline to be used when the ballet is filmed by Sky Arts next week!
Debra Craine of the Times wrote in her article “..how gorgeous is our heroine’s white party frock?”
A filmed version of the ballet is available on BBC iPlayer until Thursday evening this week. Catch it if you can!
Congratulations Caroline! We are very lucky to have you with us.
Last week, the museum was pleased to host a talk by Sir Tony Robinson (with a little help from his friends!). Our own Owain Hughes was there and reports back…
Sir Tony has an autobiography out – ‘No Cunning Plan’ – and his talk focused on that, and on his friendship with Sir Terry Pratchett.
He began by describing Sir Terry’s great love of the chalk landscape and invited a certain member of the audience – a great friend of ours, Phil Harding – to explain the origins of this local landscape, and to share a few memories of Time Team digging in it!
Rob Wilkins, Terry’s assistant, business manager and long term friend added to the memories of the writer by describing how the two of them ‘bonded’ – at a book signing when they realised they were both ‘electronic nerds’!
Tony’s links with the writer go back a long way. At an early encounter, Terry was to congratulate Tony on some comedy programmes he had written for Radio Bristol. In subsequent years Tony was to create the audio versions of Terry’s books and played a role, the store manager, in the 2006 film version of Terry’s ‘Hogfather’.
The same year, Tony appeared in Tony Robinson: Me and My Mum, a documentary surrounding his decision to find a nursing home for his mother, and the difficulty he had doing so. In the intervening years he has become a supporter of Alzheimer’s research and charities, which, of course would have been a bond between the two men, as Terry began to suffer himself. When Terry was invited to do the Dimbleby lecture in 2010 he was already struggling with the illness, and while he introduced the lecture, it was Tony who read Terry’s words. It was about death, our attitudes to it and about assisted death. The audience here were very moved when Tony read an abridged version of the lecture at this talk. As indeed visitors have been moved by this aspect of the museum’s exhibition.
Owain shares with us some of the excitement at the end of the talk…
The talk ran over the allotted time and with less than an hour before his train was due to leave, Tony began signing copies of his books for a very long queue of eager fans. He was due to give an interview to the British Forces Broadcasting Service which they managed to do somewhere on the car journey to the station! The next day, he was at the Royal Albert Hall, reading at a carol service.
A busy man. Thank you Sir Tony for your visit and sharing your memories.
One giant LEGO mosaic with 960 tiles and 61,440 bricks
Thirty six volunteers
One hundred and thirty models of ‘The Luggage’ constructed
Four hundred and sixty visitors
The Staff Team
Not quite the Twelve Days of Christmas! BUT we overcame rain inside the marquee, cling filming LEGO in the dark, avoided a storm, managed to keep warm (mostly) and delivered another amazing event to our visitors.
Sincere thanks to you all for everything you contributed towards a wonderful day.
See the finished article in the museum now.