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Sunday 30 April 2017

Archaeological Reconstruction Drawings

We had an excellent talk given by Jennie Anderson on archaeological reconstruction drawings last Thursday. The talk sold out beforehand, which was very exciting because we normally have a few tickets left. We have a maximum capacity of 53 in the audience, so it's always better to buy tickets beforehand form the museum, or online at the Friends' website.
 I wasn't sure what to expect really apart from some drawings of people wandering round Barbury Castle in leather sandals, it was far more detailed and well thought out than that.
Jennie tackled the whole talk in a logical and interesting way, first of all stating that she does do lots of looking at ancient maps, aerial photographs and remains found at the sites she intends to reconstruct, but there's no real way of knowing how accurate a picture she is painting, and she probably isn't.
I did take photos, but the screen has made everything look a bit dark
 Here's the capacity audience

 So what are the issues that must be faced when engaging in archaeological reconstruction drawings?
 One important thing is people's preconception. For instance many people imagine Vikings had 2 pronged helmets as seen on the person below. The audience were asked to draw a Viking and many people drew the helmet with 2 prongs, seen below, Jennie was able to trace this back to a drawing made of Vikings made over a hundred years ago which has influenced our idea of what Vikings looked like
 Since then, Vikings have been depicted in films without the 2 pronged helmets so this idea might not persist for much longer
 Jennie then revealed her drawing of Bowood House before Capability Brown began landscaping, seen below
 Jennie ended her talk by saying she 'creates engaging visualisations about human connections with history, and appreciates ' she has a 'responsibility to create images based on best evidence available'.
It was a fabulous talk.

Saturday 29 April 2017

Raising the Bar

This event was held at the Phoenix Theatre at New College on Wednesday 19 April from 7-9pm with the intention of informing members of the public about the plans for the new museum and art gallery in the centre of town, on the site of the former car park beside the Wyvern Theatre.
I've taken some photos from the Total Swindon page, although they have written Hadrian Ellory-van Dekekr into the evening, he wasn't there. In the photo below you can see members of the Trust, Cllr Garry Perkins and Cllr David Renard, leader of the Council and Jason Parker of Make Architects
 David Renard below talking about the commitment of the council to the project.
 Robert Hiscox, Chair of the trustees, who outlined the benefits of the new museum and art gallery to the town.
The evening was a tremendous success with a packed house, and great support expressed for the project. A vote at the end of the event revealed 140 people for the project and 6 against.
People have been encouraged to get in touch with the Trust via their website to offer support, and have been doing so. Lots of engagement work will be taking place before the bid is submitted in November. The interim director, Rod Hebden of the project has just been appointed this week.
It's worth adding a couple of views of the proposed new building, the first a romantic evening view
 and a photo of the model which can be seen at the museum
And some of the audience just leaving the event:
 The excitement in the room was palpable, and is continuing with the positivity exuding from Rod Hebden.
Great article in yesterday's Swindon Advertiser:

Volunteering at the Museum

In order to help with the new opening hours, which since the beginning of April have been more than double the previous ones, Friends have been asked if they would like to volunteer at the museum. I have been three times now, and thoroughly enjoyed each session. There's a subtle difference in visiting the museum and being there in a capacity to help, you get quite a different view of things.
I have been helping at fairly quiet times, giving me plenty of opportunity to talk to visitors when they came in.
Katie Ackrill seen above at the reception desk has been very patient and helped me learn to use the till and other various things I've done like rearranging the shop.
On the first occasion a couple came in from Eastleigh, Hampshire, they used to live in Swindon and they love visiting the museum. The husband of the couple,is particularly keen on collecting crested pottery and specifically wanted to know the location of the original model of the Goss Swindon vase. I emailed the information we had on the crested china to him, and suggested he send an email to Sophie Cummings, asking his question. I've had a look on ebay and found a Goss Swindon vase for sale.
 Above is the case showing the crested china, and below cups and saucers with 'Broad St Chapel, Swindon on them.
 Below some lovely pieces, the fireplace has 'there's no place like home' on it as well as the crest. The hen is very strange.
 More crested china
 and I particularly liked this one depicting the town hall which says 'Public Offices New Swindon' on it.

 I was pleased to see these lovely pieces by Patricia Volk acquired through the Creative Wiltshire project They are displayed in the Creative Wiltshire exhibition in the first two downstairs rooms, well worth a look if you're visiting the museum.
 Being around at closing time, I was given the job of closing the shutters in the downstairs rooms, the one to the right of the front door is cut in half to accommodate a radiator. with a radiator

 Whereas the one in the other room has the original complete shutter

Things you'd never notice if you weren't closing up.

Wednesday 5 April 2017

Ceramic Conversations and More

The weekend of 1/2 April saw the opening of the museum for ‘Ceramic Conversations’ delivered as part of the Creative Museums project being led by the Battersea Arts Centre, from 10am-5pm on both Saturday and Sunday. I was able to help on Saturday afternoon, and was rather excited by the first sight of the event from the other side of Bath Road:
 There were lots of people outside, making things with clay, there were lots of conversations going on as people moulded their clay. There had been a potter on a wheel in the morning.
 We were every fortunate with the weather, despite it being the beginning of April, it was possible to stay outside all afternoon, aided by coffee from Matthew Pearce's Coffee Gang
 There was also a Magic Roundabout record player under a gazebo with instructions to help yourself and put whatever music on you wanted.
 With some signage and gold foil
 beside the record player was the museum sign with the new opening hours on it:
 Inside the ceramic displays were big and bold
 In the first cabinet there were our 2 Desmond Morris paintings, on the left, barely visible 'Diana Dors' and on the right 'The Surprise'
 There was also a Ginger Beer bar celebrating the fact there were many companies making ginger beer in opaque beige bottles and ginger ale, a clear substance, in glass bottles. This led to many conversations about how people at home also used to make ginger beer.
 This photo was taken about 4pm when there were still quite a few people around outside, many people had a 'dwell' time of 2 hours which is good.

 Here's an elephant lovingly made by one of the dads attending with his son.
 The person running the show was Amy Pennington on Saturday, here she is running the Swindon quiz
 now Amy seen below negotiating with the teams taking part in the quiz

 A lovely afternoon, many fascinating people came along to chat and share their views, or simply to sample the ginger beer and have a look round the museum.
Over the two days, almost 600 people came along, let's hope this is the first of many weekend events held at the museum.
Meanwhile I'm looking forward to volunteering to help support the new hours of opening, my first shift will be 11am-1pm this Friday, can't wait.