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!
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.
And how grateful our visitors are that they can at our museum. BUT.. we want this to be a pleasurable experience!
The Salisbury Museum is going potty!
We need new loos… Please donate
The second part of Shannan’s moving piece about the Terry Pratchett: HisWorld exhibition…
It’s hard to pick the stand out pieces in the exhibit because there were just too many. I was overjoyed to see Terry’s hat. Terry’s hat! There it was, in a glass case. I was centimetres from it. The recreation of his office was brilliant. I loved seeing the six computer monitors and the cat bed cut in to the desk. It was amazing to hear a woman gasp as she saw one of the crocheted Terry dolls she had made sitting on the bookshelf.
I marvelled at all of Paul Kidby’s paintings and drawings. What fascinated me most about seeing these artworks up close is just how much detail you can soak in. You can see every brush stroke, every pencil line, even the fibres in the canvas. I picked up so many details that I’ve never noticed before when looking at the prints in The Art of Discworld by Paul Kidby. I never noticed that Death was carrying kitten in his robe as he rode out with the other horsemen of the apocalypse. Another show stopper was the fact that some of these paintings were gigantic. Some took up entire walls. Again, when you’re only used to seeing them on pages of an art book or prints on a greeting card to see them in real life, in actual size, is mind boggling.
Pieces that pulled at the heart were the pieces that highlighted Terry’s plight with Alzheimer’s. The test sheets show how his ability to see, read, write and draw was deteriorating. Not far from these sheets was the destroyed hard drive that held unfinished Discworld novels. Personally, I was happy to read that it was destroyed in line with his wishes. It also meant that the Discworld is now complete. It’s nice to know that whatever stories Terry had planned are for him to keep. No other author is going to take those ideas and try to continue the series. Discworld without Terry is like a decadent cake without the chocolate ganache icing; and where’s the fun in eating that?
It was the most amazing experience to meet Rob and Paul. They were so lovely and so generous of their time. Rob even offered me his seat so I could give Paul a closer look at my sleeve. They signed my museum book and the Granny Weatherwax notebook my mum bought me for my 30th birthday that I was using as my travel journal. I was also lucky to get a few photos.
I was at the museum from 10am and didn’t leave until well after 3pm. The exhibition was absolutely incredible and the whole team at Salisbury Museum are so lovely and really looked after me.
After leaving Salisbury and a packed tour of brilliant museums in London, I joined a tour that took us through parts of England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Ireland and Wales. As much as I loved the tour I found there was too much time on the bus and not enough time exploring. So, I now think of the tour as a ‘taster’ and have made notes of places I’d like to visit again with more time. Most of all I loved the history and lush green landscape. The country towns were adorable and it was brilliant to be able to walk through them. I loved walking over the cobbled streets and seeing buildings that are older than Australia’s colonisation.
I had a wonderful time in the UK. I achieved more than I ever thought I would and the experiences I’ve had will never be forgotten. Some people say that you “find” yourself when you travel. I don’t think that I found myself but I did learn that even with the depression, the anxiety and OCD, I really can do anything and I can do it all by myself.
17 October 2017
Believe it – this special story is worth reading to the very end!
In February 2017, a documentary was aired detailing the life of my favourite author; Sir Terry Pratchett. Little did I know that after the airing of “Terry Pratchett: Back in Black” that a special announcement would be made. Fans were being given a wonderful gift; an insight in to Terry’s life and this gift was being presented as an exhibition at the Salisbury Museum.
To consider myself a fan is a bit of an understatement; to be frankly honest, Terry’s writing saved my life. I was already a fan of the Discworld and had read through the series a number of times. I live with depression, anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Whilst I live with these conditions I manage them well and am considered high functioning. I’ve even been able to go without medication for a few years now and keep myself on track with regular visits to my psychologist and GP.
An event 5 years ago triggered a relapse and my world crashed down around me. I was so down and the world was bleak, bland and in my mind, tomorrow didn’t exist. I would stare out my window for hours waiting for the time to pass or I passed the time by sleeping. When thought finally made its way through the thick and sticky emotions I was feeling at the time I was able to make one small decision; read. Go back to the Disc and just read. With each page I was able to make a reconnect with myself even if it wasn’t for long. The series kept me going, and again being frankly honest, stopped me from “checking out”.
I have so much love for the Disc and its characters, that I have a full tattoo sleeve dedicated to it. All my favourite characters from Samuel Vimes to Granny Weatherwax to Death. I estimate between 50 and 54 hours of tattoo time was spent creating my Discworld sleeve. My sleeve is an ode and dedication to Terry, to his Discworld and to his characters. As well as to Paul Kidby and his amazing artwork. The characters mean much to me and my own world that I need them with me, always. If I’m having a bad day I can look down and smile and also be reminded of each character’s strengths.
So the announcement was made, ‘Terry Pratchett: HisWorld’ was coming to the Salisbury Museum in September 2017. Originally, I pushed it aside as a little pipe dream. Curiosity took hold when my mum showed me the Facebook post about the exhibition. Opening day was 7 months away. I started looking at flights. I knew that if I put all the savings I already had and cut back on a few spending habits that the trip was doable. The next day I went in to work and submitted my annual leave form. I had 5 weeks of annual leave available and hadn’t had a proper holiday in years. I asked for 4 weeks and they said no – the company had a new client coming on board and they didn’t know what to expect. After a bit of back and forth I was able to get two weeks leave approved.
When I was evaluating my life and the trip, what I wanted to see, do and experience, I realised that I wouldn’t be able to do this with two weeks of annual leave. I was coming from a coastal suburban town about an hour south of Melbourne, Australia. That’s almost 17,000kms (10,500 miles) and a few thousand Australian dollars. Our conversion rate isn’t very strong against the British Pound (we’re currently sitting at 59 pence for every Aussie Dollar) so if I was going to spend the money for an adventure of a lifetime I was going to spend it well! So I resigned from my job of almost 6 years and decided to extend my trip to the four weeks I originally requested.
The plane journey was nice enough; let’s face it, no one likes being cooped up in a small space without much leg room. My flight left from Melbourne around 9.40pm on Wednesday 13 September. The first leg of the journey was about 14 hours. A short stopover in Doha and I was on another plane bound for London. Another 7 and a half hours and I arrived in London at 12pm on Thursday 14 September.
Jet lag had hit me pretty hard that day. Not only was I tired but I was also a bit dizzy. It felt like the earth was moving from under my feet. I was up every hour or so that night and I was in a very noisy part of town. The night was filled with the sounds of trains and, this surprised me the most, emergency sirens. All night. It seemed like as soon as one stopped another would start. Because these sirens sound different to the ones at home and I didn’t know which siren was which. It made me feel very scared and unsafe. I hadn’t been there for very long at all and I was already feeling very uneasy about London.
My fears were heightened the next morning when I awoke to a message from my mum asking me where I was and if I was ok. The Parsons Green terror attack had just occurred. At that time it was being broadcast as an ‘incident’ with more information to come. I spent my time trying to find any information I could but everything was quite vague. I wasn’t keen to be catching a train an hour or so after I heard the news. Thankfully though, my train was still running and I was on my way to Salisbury.
The national rail trains are quite nice. I was super impressed that it had free Wifi. I was able to keep in touch with my mum and other friends who had heard about the London attack. I was surprised to see a snacks cart come through the carriages. We do have national rail services but because Australia is so large most people opt to go on a scenic road trip or fly. The journey was about an hour and half – this is about the same time it takes for me to get to Melbourne from my home town.
The day I arrived I went in search of the museum. I wanted to make sure I knew exactly where I was going because the next day was opening day and I did not want to get lost! Walking through the town on my way to the museum I came to the Cathedral. Oh my goodness! I had to crane my neck just to see the top. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a structure of that magnitude before. It just towers over you with its brilliance!
Opening day finally arrived! Months of planning and saving and it was finally here. I arrived a few minutes before opening and there were already a few people waiting in line. Rob Wilkins officially opened the exhibition. We passed through the museum shop and in to the exhibition. Seeing the His World entrance artwork which I believe is the cover art of the Terry Pratchett’s Imaginarium artwork book coming out in November was so exciting. I was about to cross the threshold in to HisWorld. I was going to see things that belonged to Terry. I was going to see a recreation of his office. I was going to see original artwork by Paul Kidby and Josh Kirby. I was going to be in super fan heaven! And I most certainly was.
See Shannan’s video here. More next week….
17 October 2017
With the Terry Pratchett: HisWorld exhibition as their inspiration, one hundred children this morning, and surely as many this afternoon, have reveled in the opportunity to allow their imagination to run riot. They have been creating their own worlds, using a tempting array of resources, with wonderful results.
The adults present were clearly enjoying the creativity as much as the youngsters! Thank you Liza Morgan and thank you, as always, to the willing Volunteers, without whom these things could not happen.
In my very first teaching post (I came into teaching as a second career) I vividly recall being appalled when a teacher of English came into the staff room one break-time and commented of a pupil, “Poor Jason, he’s so limited. He’s never going to achieve anything, he’s so dyslexic”. Well, this pupil, an eleven year old boy, used to attend my Science Club after school. In the last session before a half term, I showed the BBC2 ‘science strand’ programme ‘Horizon’ about buckminsterfullerene, and intended for somewhat older audiences. Buckminsterfullerene, also known as C60, is a molecule, made solely of carbon atoms, which a British scientist, Professor Sir Harry Kroto had worked out to be spherical and, in fact, made up of hexagons and pentagons – like a football (Figure 1).
Figure 1. Model of Buckminsterfullerene (C60)
In elucidating this structure, Professor Kroto had accurately constructed pentagons and hexagons on thin card, cut them out and sellotaped them together to make a ball. Imagine my delight and pride when Jason, a boy who was “never going to achieve anything”, came in after half term with a fine cardboard model of buckminsterfullerene which he’d made himself. I ensured that this took pride of place in a cabinet in the dining room, where pupils’ finest work was displayed. My thoughts turned to this when I read that Terry Pratchett’s former headmaster, Mr Tame, had told him that he would “never amount to anything”.
In our exhibition, the legend accompanying Terry Pratchett’s Olivetti Quaderno electronic notebook reads, “Although I have no particular need of it, I can’t bring myself to throw away what is now vintage technology”.
I know this feeling well as my desk drawer is cluttered with, among other things, a British Thornton slide rule, which I haven’t used in at least 30 years, a Sinclair Scientific calculator (1974), whose ‘reverse Polish notation’ taught me how to keep track of the exponent when using the slide rule; and a Nokia 6030 mobile phone (2006), which I believe is now regarded as ‘retro’ (Figure 2).
Figure 2. Alan Crooks’ collection of ‘vintage technology’
Moving on to the Corridor Display, the caption against ‘Death on Binky’ (Paul Kidby, 2000) reads”When I was a kid I was scared rigid of skeletons”. I can empathise with this as because, when I was about 6 or 7 years old, I had to walk home from school across a meadow, within which was a small copse. One day, one of the friends I was with mentioned casually that there was a skeleton under one of the trees in the copse. Well, at the time, I didn’t know what a skeleton was but imagined it to be some sort of crocodilian, like an alligator. I used to give that copse a wide berth thereafter, but wonder to this day what it was that was in this copse.
Whilst on the subject of Death, a visitor came in one day and commented that she wants Death at her funeral. She has written into her Will that , at her funeral, she wants there to be a tall man in a black coat carrying a scythe, and she wants her daughter to tether her white horse at the church gates!
More next week in this fascinating series from Alan.
Terry Pratchett – The First Week
Alan Crooks, Engagement Volunteer
Returning home from a fortnight’s holiday on the morning of Friday 15 September, I opened my emails to find one from Jan Thorne inviting Gallery Stewards and Engagement Volunteers an opportunity to walk around the exhibition that very afternoon. Knowing that this would be my only opportunity to view the exhibition before my first shift (in this case, as a Gallery Steward) on the following Tuesday, I accepted.
As a former scientist and science teacher, paradoxically I have never been interested in either science fiction or fantasy – the genre to which I’d assumed Terry Pratchett fitted. Consequently I’d never read any of his books. Therefore, in preparation for my duties at this exhibition I had taken my first book of his to read whilst on holiday. This was Wintersmith, the third tale in a sequence about the trainee witch, Tiffany Aching, which is intended for younger readers. I chose this because in December, 2013 I had attended the Steeleye Span ‘Wintersmith’ concert at the City Hall, during which Terry Pratchett joined the band on stage.
This was a great choice as characters from this: Tiffany Aching, the Nac Mac Feegles, Granny Weatherwax, feature heavily in the exhibition. Furthermore, as I had read this on a Kindle, the first chapter of the next book in the series starring Tiffany Aching was provided free of charge. This was ‘I Shall Wear Midnight’. Here Tiffany came face to face with the giant:
“He – and he was quite definitely a he, there was no doubt about that – had been carved out of the turf thousands of years before. A white outline against the green, he belonged to the days when people had to think about survival and fertility in a dangerous world. Oh, and he had also been carved, or so it would appear, before anyone had invented trousers”.
Quite clearly, this had been inspired by the Cerne Abbas Giant, and so provided a nice link with the previous exhibition, ‘British Art:Ancient Landscapes’. I was hooked!
Immediately prior to my first shift, Jan Thorne had warned us that museum staff had been taken completely by surprise by the emotional responses that the exhibition had elicited among some of its visitors, as many had been supported by reading Pratchett novels during difficult periods of their lives. I encountered some very positive emotions. There was a young Australian woman wearing the broadest of broad grins, but which amazingly appeared to get even broader as she wandered around with what appeared to be a telescopic monocular, that enabled her to examine detail on pictures some distance away in Terry’s study.
Another girl was wearing a particular kind of badge with ‘Terry Pratchett’ inscribed on a red ribbon, with green leaves and a flower (pictured), and proclaimed that she thought I wouldn’t encounter many of these. I think she explained that this was the Terry Pratchett Memorial pin, only it does not have ‘1948-2015’ on it.
Somebody else informed me that the novel writing itself on Terry’s typewriter was in fact a chapter from The Nightwatch, featuring the Assassins. Yet another person informed me that the chest with feet to the side of Terry’s desk was from ‘The Colour of Magic’.
During my second shift I overheard two young lads talking about Pratchett’s Carnegie medal and they told me that their school had been among those chosen to vote for the Carnegie Award, and many of them had proudly voted for Pratchett.
Also on this day, a young man wearing a ‘Guns ‘n’ Roses’ jacket asked me, incredulously, whether a letter on the pin board had really been written by Neil Gaiman. Not being a fan of fantasy genre material I had never heard of Neil Gaiman. I didn’t admit this to him, but went to have a look and, to me, it seemed a perfectly genuine letter (pictured) (Editor’s note: and it is…)
Alan’s blog underlines what an extraordinary thing this exhibition is. If any other volunteers have interesting stories to tell, please pass them on.
Record crowds for the opening of the Terry Pratchett: HisWorld exhibition.
“A different kind of audience” declared one observer. Meanwhile, Tristram Fane Saunders of the Telegraph wrote this on 16 September:
“Tolkien’s dead. JK Rowling said no. Philip Pullman couldn’t make it. Hi, I’m Terry Pratchett.” As self-deprecating introductions go, it’s a good one; Pratchett had it printed on a T-shirt for book events.
That shirt is currently on show at the Salisbury Museum, along with his hat, sword, paintings, typewriter, Blue Peter badge, computer hard drive (recently crushed by steamroller, in accordance with the late author’s wishes) and every part of his office that wasn’t nailed down. In an eerie touch that he would have relished, invisible fingers clack away at Pratchett’s keyboard; stand long enough, and you’ll see the first page of a novel write itself.
Assembling all of this joyous clutter is a triumph for Pratchett’s local museum, a Grade I listed gem not far from the Salisbury chalkland that inspired much of his finest writing.