More accurately, it was just for four days, between Tuesday and Friday, but who’s counting?
To kick off my summer holidays, I organised a work placement with the museum, and as an aspiring Art Historian, I would not have wanted it any other way. I’ve been working closely with Joyce Paesen, the Exhibitions Officer. This has presented me with the opportunity to learn more about what goes on behind the scenes in a museum and in exhibitions; both the process leading up to one, during and after. I felt like I was involved with the process, even if a very minor role – having been assigned tasks that met with my capabilities as a young A-levels student who is only just learning the ropes.
On my first day, I was told to do exhibition research on Peter Thursby for his exhibition coming mid-summer next year, and to write up a summary of his work by the end of the day. I was given a name, a book and a laptop. Although I had no knowledge of him at the beginning of the day, I feel I can safely say that I know all there is to know about him now. That day made me realise my underlying hobby for research on artists by encouraging me to use my research skills and apply it to the museum workspace.
Other tasks I was assigned were to lend a helping hand; this included helping with the workshops for students, and going around the museum to look for questions to pose in a quiz meant for an upcoming event. Performing these tasks made me realise just how interactive this museum is with its visitors, as they actively find ways to encourage them to participate in activities and be involved with the museum. I also enjoyed having to look for the questions because that meant I was able to roam around the museum, paying careful attention to the captions in order to pick out information, and by doing so, I learnt so much.
Even if I was assigned with other tasks that did not require me to roam around the museum, I was allowed to do so. The office has such a relaxed environment, everybody is so nice and helpful, too, that I felt comfortable working there in the short period of time that I did. All I can say to the Salisbury Museum is thank you for this opportunity!
Hannah undertook a student placement with us recently. Thank you Hannah, we enjoyed your stay with us.
More from our student visitors next week.
We will all have had the last minute, intriguing, email from Bridget last week, informing us that access into and within the Close was to be severely restricted on the Thursday. During Wednesday, the grass to the west of the Cathedral was transformed with tiered seating and marquees and there was the sound of military bands and marching boots as rehearsals took place. The sadly now familiar business of pulling up man-hole covers and careful resealing them after a search, took place. On Thursday police were everywhere and bags were searched, but it is to everyone’s credit that this manages to be done in a still relatively relaxed atmosphere.
Who was coming? What was happening? Again, sadly, once upon a time it would have been all over the newspapers and local people would have been able to join in the fun but it is the way of the world now that it cannot be. Nevertheless, those of us in the Close were pleased to watch and enjoy the Army Air Corps celebrate its 60th anniversary with Prince Charles.
Their pride was evident in the immaculate uniforms, marching and music. Prince Charles arrived, appropriately, in a helicopter, which landed in the Close and after speeches, presentation of colours and a brief service, we understand that a good lunch was enjoyed by all.
When you walk along Silver Street from Barclays Bank to the Poultry Cross, if you look carefully, you will see that the pavement has been widened. This happened over 50 years ago as evidenced by this photograph. I doubt if it is an easy task without photographs such as this to determine when this pedestrian enhancement occurred. The buildings in this 1965 scene look much the same now as they did then but they almost all had different tenants.
It is thanks to the amazing foresight and gymnastic abilities of the photographer, Austin Underwood, that we have this photograph. Somehow he must have managed to gain access to the upper stories of the Barclay bank building to take this photograph. Maybe someone could manage a repeat and obtain a “now” photograph from the same vantage point and check my following comments. The first shop, visible on the left, is Hepworth’s the tailors where I bought my first suit, paid for by working nights at Welworthy’s piston ring factory in Harnham. The premises is now (2017) occupied by the coffee shop, Nero.
Robinson Rentals, now also Cafe Nero, is next door . In 1965 many families rented their TV. Now we rent our mobile phones but choose a different word than ‘rent’. One can make out Bollom the dry cleaners. Then there is FHW (Freeman Hardy and Willis) the shoe people who moved round the corner to Minster Steet, and have now left Salisbury all together. ‘Toni and Guy’ are now here. On the other side of Silver Street, one can see that Marks and Spencers occupied the building that Boots the Chemist now (2017) have. Woolworth’s had a large foodmarket on this side as well as their premises in High Street. Robert Stokes remains in name only along New Canal, the other side of their premises here in Silver Street. Lipton, the self service grocers, eventually moved into Butcher’s Row before disappearing into the annals of history. Now the premises is occupied by Santander. Timothy Whites (Chemist) can be made out, squeezed between M&S and Robert Stokes. They were taken over by Boots shortly after this photograph was taken. Curry’s sign can be seen down Butcher’s Row. They moved out of town a few years ago to the Southampton Road with many other retailers.
Besides the architecture and the shops, there is much more of Salisbury’s social history in this image. For example, double decker buses used to have a driver and a conductor. Look carefully in this photograph to see the driver. Butcher’s row appears to be pedestrianised. One can just make out the “No Entry” sign but note the van parked pointing in the wrong direction. Over eight premises have their blinds stretched out over the pavement. How many shops now have a working blind?
One can observe lots of shopping bags but no shopping trolleys or mobility vehicles.
Only the men appear to be wearing the trousers back in 1965!
Many thanks to Volunteer Stephen Lycett who saw an article in the Volunteer Newsletter and sent us this:
Stephen writes: I wish I’d known in advance about the Walter Alcock/Stirling locomotive article as I have a photo of Sir Walter and a group of choirboys actually playing with it.
What follows here is an illustration of just one of the many skills taught to Salisbury Museum volunteer scanners. To obtain perfect digital images from the museum’s vast collection of negatives, there are a number of such skills to be learnt.
A flatbed scanner which scans negatives usually comes with a number of plastic templates for the various sized negatives. These templates attempt to keep the negative aligned to the vertical and flat, as well as allowing automated scanning of multiple negatives placed on the flatbed. The scanner hardware/software senses which template is in use by first scanning some plastic codes at the top of the template. Thus, if you are not using any of these templates, one must not have anything in the first ½ inch of the scanning flatbed, otherwise the scanner gets confused. It is far quicker, easier and more productive, not to use the plastic templates, but read on.
Software such as Vuescan can easily correct any misalignment of the negatives from up to 5 degrees away from the vertical, more than adequate. Any negative placed on the scanner flatbed must therefore be at least ½ inch away from the top edge of the flatbed where the scanning illumination starts. The first image here of Salisbury Cathedral, with the top of the tower covered in scaffolding, was produced by placing the negative by itself on the flatbed. It looks as though the Cathedral is bending in the wind. I can assure you that this was not the case.
The heat from the scanning head has curled the negative whilst scanning it. The remedy is to have a piece of toughened glass, made with ground edges, and the correct size to fit the flatbed, minus the top ½ inch. Salisbury Glass specially made this for the Museum. Now one can put the negative on the scanner flatbed, position the negative and then place this sheet of glass on top, being very careful in letting the glass descend the final ¼ inch not to disturb the position of the negative. A technique that also had to be taught. The negative is now constrained to remain absolutely flat whilst being scanned. The second image here now shows the Cathedral without distortion, as the negative has not curled.
I thought that this was a nice example to illustrate one of the skills acquired by being a Salisbury Museum volunteer scanner.
Best wishes, Alan
Dauntsey’s School (Devizes) student Sophie Roberts has been with us for two days of her week’s work experience – and says she isn’t disappointed so far!
Yesterday she was helping visitors enjoy our Coo Var Glow Wall experience. Today, she has been involved with more traditional museum back room work. Sophie joined Volunteers Roger Collins and Mary Crane who are here every Tuesday, building boxes to store priceless artefacts.
A first visit to this exhibition is a delightful surprise. Apart from anything else, there is such variety – Stonehenge on everything from photographs to phone cards! And for those of us of a certain age, those wonderful Shell posters of yesteryear…..
A favourite? Perhaps John Constable’s tiny, exquisite, pencil sketch but it will take a few visits to make a final decision.
As I write, there are considerable numbers of visitors in the galleries and great Volunteers looking after them.
There are a number of talks and events associated with this exhibition. Notice ‘Ancient Landscapes Through the Lens: A guided photographers walk to Breamore’ led by David Walker and Peter Norton on 23 May 10am – noon. For details, click here.
Photo courtesy of David Walker
We hope this one is in your diary already – Saturday 22 and Sunday 23 July. ArchFest has been enormously successful in its first two years and we have our fingers crossed for fine weather (that helps!) and happy crowds once again this year.
Tickets will soon be on sale for the talks (click HERE for link), and will be, soon, for the ‘taster sessions’ which we hope will include calligraphy, Roman cooking, spinning and weaving, and sword skills for adults. The latter could be very popular so book soon!