This email has been received from Julie Davis, County Local Studies Librarian:
I would like to take this opportunity to ask for your support for a project which aims to locate, record and photograph public art, namely artwork made by an artist, arts practitioner or craftsperson and located in publicly accessible spaces and places in Wiltshire. At present very little is known about the whereabouts, extent and condition of public art in the county.
Data collected as part of the project will be made available in the Local Studies Library at the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre with images deposited in the Historic Photograph and Print Collection. The images will then be pinned to the Know Your Place site http://www.kypwest.org.uk to map their location geographically. More details can be found at the link below.
A series of volunteer workshops are being run across the county for those interested in getting involved in the project to initiate the beginning of the data collection phase. Confirmed venues are:
Marlborough Library, Thursday 20th July, 6-7pm. Book now via Eventbrite
Malmesbury Library, Monday 14th August, 6-7pm. Book now via Eventbrite
Corsham Library, Monday 21st August, 6-7pm. Book now via Eventbrite
Events are also planned in Corsham, Salisbury and Swindon in August, and hopefully in Devizes and Warminster too. To stay informed please visit https://creativewiltshire.com/get-involved/
Each session will include:
Background, introductions and timeline of the project
Definitions – detailing what will be classified as public art in terms of the project
Grid references – quick guide to grid referencing for those who feel they need guidance
Data recording – what to record and how
Photography – a guide to what is required
Administration – how data will be sent to the History Centre, plus registration, support and co-ordination information. There will also be an opportunity to ask any questions you may have.
Volunteers can devote as much or as little time as they can spare until December and join this community effort to help support public art in the places that matter to them.
I look forward to meeting representative(s) from your society at one of the workshops. If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact me.
Julie Davis County Local Studies Librarian
Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre Tel: 01249 705500 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.wshc.eu
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.
Summer is here. ArchFest cannot be far behind…
Katy England reminds us it is a really exciting weekend with lots going on including talks in the lecture hall, a showground of living history and heritage, and an archaeological dig by Dr Phil Harding to search for the remains of the museum’s lost gatehouse. Volunteers are needed again this year for what is usually a very busy weekend. Two briefing sessions are planned:
Friday 16 June 10.30 – 11.30am and
Tuesday 20 June 2.30 – 3.30pm
Please contact Katy at email@example.com if you would like to be involved, and to let her know which of the two sessions would be convenient for you.
Extra engagement volunteers in the galleries are also needed for the two days. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you think you can help with that.
Even as I write, preparations are under way for the first of two Volunteer coffee mornings taking place this week. If you can’t make it today, then come along tomorrow – 10.30 – noon for coffee, cake, company and a talk by Director Adrian Green. He will be speaking about “Who runs Salisbury Museum”.
Alan Crooks – continuing the thought that “one of the great pleasures and benefits of volunteering in the museum is the amount one learns (or not!) from the visiting public” (see previous blog)…
Another visitor who had been a member of staff at Godolphin School, contemplating Methuen’s ‘The City and Cathedral of Salisbury as seen from Harnham Hill’ (1955) commented that Godolphin School has a Methuen House (which “always lost all the sporting events”). He said he had quizzed many of his colleagues, including some of long-standing, and was surprised that so few of them knew why Methuen House was so-named. Sadly, I was distracted away before he could enlighten me. However, a little research revealed that Field Marshal The Lord Methuen GCB, GCMG, GCVO, Legion d’Honneur (The 3rd Baron Methuen) was elected Chairman of the Governing Body of Godolphin School, Salisbury on June 10, 1913. This link will take you to a blog which describes his interest in education, his love of books and his knowledge of music.
Another visitor stood in front of Claude Buckle’s railway poster, ‘Salisbury: Where History Begins’ commemorating the visit of Charles II in 1651. He swore blind that Buckle had got the date wrong as Charles II “didn’t ascend the throne until 1660”. I had to go home and quickly check an encyclopaedia to find that Charles II had ascended the throne of Scotland in 1651, and so had visited Salisbury that same year. He issued the Declaration of Breda in 1660 in which he stated the terms on which he accepted the crown of England.
Our Costume Volunteers are an amazing group of ladies, many of them members of NADFAS, bringing huge knowledge and expertise in helping to identify, catalogue and look after the museum’s vast collection of costume.
Last week, over fifteen of them met for some training, given by one of their own number, Caroline Lanyon, who was, of course, able to make use of items from the collection to illustrate her points.
Caroline’s aim was to assist Volunteers in dating pieces of costume. She told her audience that eighteenth century clothes could be easy to identify as those that survive are made from woven silk brocades with distinct pattern designs. Printed cottons came later.
The early nineteenth century was characterised by the Classical Grecian look. As is often true of fashion, it helped to have a sylph-like figure! In the middle, and towards the end, of that century the styles epitomised, and of course, led, by Queen Victoria were all the rage, with bolder colours and tartans. Later, as the Queen herself went into mourning, more subtle colours became fashionable.
The Volunteers must, however, look for alterations to clothes, and for clues that the items are genuine and were not just produced for dressing up (which was not unusual), so Caroline was able to talk about looking for the right kind of stitching – rough and ready in the eighteenth century (except embroidery, which was exquisite), finely had sewn in the nineteenth and, of course, machine stitched later.
Did you know that the definition of ‘couture’ is that the item has been tailor made without machine stitching, allowing the maker to craft the clothes more precisely, but at great cost of time and expertise?
It might have been training but it was a treat!