Urban Canvas (“We..paint anything on anything”) provided Easter creativity and fun at the museum over the weekend. What could be more appropriate than mosaics?
More than two hundred attended, and just look at the results…
Two gatherings took place recently to mark the publication of our own Richard Henry’s Fifty Finds From Wiltshire, with brisk sales following these two events. The first was here at Salisbury Museum, attended by fifty or so local landowners, metal detectorists and Volunteers. The occasion was by way of thanks to all of those who have contributed to the Portable Antiquities Scheme, and in some way to the book.
Everyone had a tour ‘backstage’ at the museum, led by Director Adrian Green or by Richard himself. This was very much enjoyed, and an ‘eye-opener’ for those for whom this was a first visit.
The second gathering was last Friday at the Wiltshire Museum in Devizes, where, as at Salisbury Museum, many of the finds described in the book are on display.
The book is on sale in the Salisbury Museum shop at £14.99. There is a ten percent reduction for volunteers!
One of the great pleasures and benefits of volunteering in the museum is the amount one learns (or not!) from the visiting public.
Following on from my previous blog on ‘Constable’s Wagon’ (17th January) I accessed the website for the Museum of English Rural Life (MERL) at the University of Reading, which has photographs of various county farm carts.
This does show a ‘Wiltshire cart’ which has broad similarities to the wagon in Constable’s ‘Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows 1831’, in that the front wheels are smaller than the rear, and the structure curves over the front and rear wheels. However, as can be seen from the illustration below, the curve is nowhere near as pronounced as depicted by Constable:
A visitor suggested that perhaps commentators have ‘got it wrong’ in referring to it as a ‘Wiltshire wagon’ and that it is really a Suffolk wagon – Constable’s home county. However, the illustration of a Suffolk wagon on the MERL website is quite dissimilar:
Thus, I do believe that Timothy Wilcox was partially correct in his book/catalogue ‘Constable and Salisbury, The Soul of Landscape’ (p152) in which he implies that Constable used artistic licence in the appearance of the wagon, to allow the eye to follow through the curves in the painting. However, we now know from Professor John E. Thornes lecture on ‘A Reassessment of the Solar Geometry of Constable’s Rainbow’ that this was not to predict/preempt the spectacular appearance of the rainbow, as the rainbow was only painted in a year after the painting was first exhibited at the Royal Academy; in order to mark the death of his great friend, Archdeacon John Fisher.
The most common reaction of visitors entering Gallery 2 (containing Constable’s great painting) was to stand stock still at the entrance and exclaim “Wow!”
Many visitors commented on how privileged they had been to be able to view this painting, on its own on the wall (in contrast to the situation when it goes to The Tate Gallery, when it could just become ‘one of many’) and in the absence of a large crowd. I certainly feel very privileged as an Engagement Volunteer to be in the presence of this great painting for 1.5 hours every week, and to share the joy of all our visitors.
“Thank you for the Blog. I really enjoy being kept up to date with what is going on at the museum.”
“Well done! Another fascinating and detailed Blog. Interesting articles,and such enthusiasm for the younger trainees. It is evident that there is a wonderful training team behind the Museum, who are fostering interest in archaeology and museum technology. Well done and keep it up. Retention of these artifacts in our local museums is vital for the education and history of our nation, and fostering interest in younger people will help to continue this. Much credit must go to Adrian and his team of paid employees for their interest and enthusiasm, which infects all of us! Thanks to you all.”
Thank you for such encouraging feedback. We welcome your comments, ideas and contributions. Please be in touch.
Hot off the press and in fact, not even published yet! Our own Richard Henry, Wiltshire’s Finds Liaison Officer, based here at The Salisbury Museum, was commissioned to write the latest in the series ‘Fifty Finds From…’, in this case, of course, Wiltshire.
The book is effectively an excellent history of the county from Neolithic to post medieval times, through discoveries that have been made by local detectorists and others, and which have been passed to Richard and his team to process for the Portable Antiquities Scheme.
Beautifully and copiously illustrated, one of the joys of this book is that we see the history of the county through the items owned and used, often manufactured by, the local people. At the same time, we see an early world which nevertheless had links far and wide, for many of these items were imported. What journeys they must have known!
Watch for a further review of this book in the coming weeks. Meanwhile you will be able to buy it via the museum shop after 15th March. Don’t miss it!
Meanwhile, museum PAS Volunteers (particularly Alyson Tanner, Claire Goodey and Jane Hanbidge) all have their work included here. Well done to all concerned, especially Richard himself.
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!
Wow! It was a truly amazing day at the museum last week.
We had over 705 visitors, picking up 65,280 bits of LEGO and putting them onto 1,020 LEGO tiles. In exactly six hours we made a complete LEGO version of Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows. This is now on display in the Main Exhibition Galleries, opposite the real thing. The plan is for the work to stay there until the end of the month, when it will go on display in Salisbury Library.
Where is this new museum?
This all happened at Wyndham Park Infant School mini-museum – the culmination of an outreach project organised by our Learning Officer Owain Hughes with Sharina Yark, Wyndham Park History co-ordinator.
The idea grew from Owain’s suggestion (to the local primary school history cluster) that we can support schools in delivering their curriculum through visits to Salisbury Museum and outreach work from Owain and his team of volunteers.
In this case, the three Year 1 classes visited the Wessex Gallery and Owain’s workshops and the three Reception classes and three Year 2 classes each received visits and support in school. The climax of the project was the mini-museum. All 270 pupils contributed to a display in their school hall which opened for an afternoon with all classes visiting, as well as families dropping in to enjoy the exhibition of the children’s work.
As well as providing a vehicle for much enjoyable learning in school, the project clearly raised awareness of, and enthusiasm in the community for, our museum and the services it provides.
Thank you, Ian Dixon, Kate Wickson, Sue Bale and Catherine Hazard
This week, a number of Volunteers and Members attended a two day sketching and water colour workshop held in the museum’s Lecture Hall. Claire Thomas, an artist based in north Dorset, was back again, at popular request, and led the group through a series of sketching activities, culminating in some wonderful watercolour paintings (and in one case, pastels), most of which included Salisbury Cathedral.
Most of those present could not have imagined attempting a painting of the cathedral at all, but under Claire’s experienced and friendly guidance, excellence emerged….
Claire will be back. We look forward to it.