Tag Archives: heritage

Uncovering the Northcott Theatre Archive: Q&A with Heritage Project Manager Sophie McCormack about the upcoming ‘The Impact of Women’ Event on the 5th of May 2021.

On the 5th May at 18:00, Exeter Northcott Theatre will be hosting their ‘The Impact of Women’ event that will explore the stories found in the theatre’s archive collection. The project, which began last Spring was led alongside a team of interns from the University of Exeter who delved into the Northcott’s archive. The event panel will look at the stories that have been uncovered and discuss how the knowledge collected can be used to shape the future culture of Exeter and the South West.

Can you tell me a bit about the history of the Northcott Theatre?

The Northcott opened in 1967 as the first of several important theatres that were built on University campuses in the UK. From the very beginning it was hailed as a ‘theatre for the people of Devon’ and it quickly established itself as a theatre which intended to push boundaries, champion new writing and develop talented creatives. Over the years its many artistic directors have taken the theatre’s identity and mission in different directions – taking on the challenge of what it means to be ‘a theatre for everyone’ and interpreting this in a variety of ways. It has become well known over the years as a training ground for high profile actors such as Dame Diana Rigg, Imelda Staunton, Robert Lindsay, John Nettles and Bon Hoskins, as well as a training ground for theatre technicians and crew. Its annual Christmas Pantomime and summertime Shakespeare in the Gardens are fondly remembered locally and are documented in detail in the archive. The theatre has also lead work with young people through its Young Company, developing creative and artistic skills over several generations.

Has the archival work that has been conducted as part of this project altered or added to that history?

Our work with the collection has enabled us to explore the specific ways that the theatre reinvented itself over the years – and while this was previously looked at as a problem (the theatre having an identity crisis and never quite living up to the ‘theatre for everyone’ mission) we have found that in hindsight this flexibility and ability to change is behind its longevity and ability to withstand and survive some difficult periods in history.

The particular role of regional theatre and how it reflects, engages with and presents work to its community — drawing on local stories and talent in this process — is also gaining new relevance as the current team at the theatre looks to massively change the way it works with and supports its local communities.

How important were the student interns in carrying out this work?

The interns have been central to the archive research. They have identified key themes and trends in the archive and then looked into the detailed records and materials in the collection to uncover the stories behind them. The project focus has been led by them in a very real way: the content relating to theatre productions, projects, actors and theatre staff we are sharing publicly have all been selected and interpreted by our teams of interns over the past year. They have also made the selections of the material we have had digitised by the Digital Humanities department at the University.

Why did you choose Natalie McGrath, Sandhya Dave and Rachel Vowles as your speakers for this event?

Natalie is a real leader in the arts and heritage sector and highly respected locally as the co-founder of Dreadnought South West – an organisation that shares the hidden histories of women and their activism. Natalie is also a wonderful writer and experienced in working with regional theatres, including the Northcott.

Sandhya is a real changemaker in Exeter’s culture through her championing of diverse voices and communities and through her leadership of anti-racist work. Sandhya has worked with the Northcott previously to support better and more meaningful engagement with people with from diverse heritages and works tirelessly to support people locally to be resilient.

Rachel is an education and community engagement expert and well-remembered for her work at the Northcott during 1999-2009 — leading work with hundreds of local young people and developing spectacular large-scale community productions. Rachel is an excellent theatre practitioner with loads of knowledge about the local arts sector and the people that make it work.

What do you hope the event will achieve?

I hope that people will begin to see the archive as a fluid, dynamic resource rather than a dusty collection of boxes. It’s important that history and heritage are opened up to be interpreted by as many people as possible, so we get a fuller picture of the legacies we have been left with today. I hope that by using the archive as inspiration, the panel and event audience will see how history can be used to change and shape what comes next.

Tickets for the event are free and can be purchased via: https://www.exeternorthcott.co.uk/events/the-impact-of-women/

The event is part of a wider project funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

To learn more about the Exeter Northcott Theatre, see: https://www.exeternorthcott.co.uk and follow @ExeterNorthcott on Twitter for updates pertaining to the event.

 

Q&A with Exeter Arts and Culture Co-ordinator, Naome Glanville, who tells us about the University’s art collection, current projects and her work.

Naome Glanville is an Arts and Culture Co-ordinator at the University of Exeter. As part of the Arts and Culture team, she looks after the university’s fine art collection and supports arts and culture projects and activities. Naome also writes articles for the Arts and Culture website, uses the fine art collection to support art history study and advises staff and students in planning exhibitions. 

To begin, can you elaborate on the importance of art commissions for the University?

The main aim of the University’s Arts and Culture strategy is to activate creativity, which involves supporting and the sharing of creativity both within and outside the University. We invite commissioned artists to make connections with research and researchers to inform their work and develop their practices, as well as invite researchers and academics to discover new perspectives to their work through interactions with creative practitioners. This potential for cross-fertilisation of ideas can enrich learning and impact for both parties.

The University of Exeter is an institute that values the arts, and the outputs of our arts commissions have been exciting and thought-provoking. They have ranged from exhibitions, soundscapes, movement with virtual reality headsets, to poetry and films. The commissions have supported the artistic community and increased opportunities for networking and learning.

Can you give an overview of the University’s Fine Art collection?

The University’s Fine Art collection consists of around two thousand items, including sculptures, paintings and prints. It includes works by Barbara Hepworth, Terry Frost, Bridget Riley, Newlyn artist Harold Harvey and a large number of 19thcentury engravings of JMW Turner works. Working with the collection means not only acquiring artworks but also caring for them. We have just developed a new policy for the development of the collection, so that we manage the collection in a more consistent, transparent and strategic way.

What is on display on campus and where can the collection be accessed online?

You may be aware of our sculpture walk on the Streatham Campus.

Figure, 1964 by Barbara Hepworth.

Credit: Barbara Hepworth ©Bowness, Photo: Courtesy University of Exeter ©John Melville

Although currently closed to the public, we look forward to a time when it will be safe for the public to tour the sculpture walk once again.  On our website www.artsandcultureexeter.co.uk you can see images of all the sculptures in the walk, read about the works and download a map showing where the sculptures are. Many of the sculptures date from the 1960s and 1970s and complement the architecture of the University buildings. Each month we are shining a spotlight on one of our artworks from the collection on the Arts and Culture website, so look out for that.

Can you tell me about Arts and Culture’s current art commissions?

The current arts commission is an 18-month partnership project with University partner the Royal Albert Memorial Museum (RAMM), called Here’s to Thee. The project seeks to uncover the complex ecology and cultures that surround the art of cider making. This fascinating project is being led by internationally renowned artist Simon Pope, who is collaborating with a team of creative practitioners and also academics at the University of Exeter. The project includes the display at RAMM of a wonderful ‘Wassail bowl’ made of local clay by ceramicist Abigail North. You can see more about Here’s to Thee and check out Simon’s video diaries here.

The In Company of Insects project looked really interesting, can you tell me about it?

In the Company of Insects was an 18-month project with award-winning poet Fiona Benson. Alongside sound artist Mair Bosworth, Benson recorded insect sounds and interviewed entomologists from the University of Exeter and beyond, who were able to shed light on the curious lifecycles and habits of insects. These were all drawn together with poems specially written by Fiona, to make a set of amazing, immersive soundscapes, that you can listen to on the Arts and Culture website. The project then reached out for more insect-related poetry through workshops. Poems composed by members of the public, school children and other poets were recorded and can be heard on the Arts and Culture website.

How have art commissions and projects been implicated by the pandemic?

The pandemic has of course affected the way our work has had to be conducted. Very soon after the first lockdown Arts and Culture initiated a series of 10 micro-commissions in partnership with other city arts organisations, entitled Hyperlocal which invited artists from Devon and Cornwall to create a digital artwork exploring the hyperlocal of their immediate domestic environments. After a public-call out, the 10 selected artists created very different responses to the confined world they found themselves in, including poems, illustrations, soundscapes and films. I am sure that they will be fascinating to revisit in years to come, as a record of life in lockdown.

To find out more about the work of Arts and Culture visit www.artsandcultureexeter.co.uk and sign up for our regular Arts and Culture newsletter. Follow Arts and Culture on social media:

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William Golding: Beyond Good and Evil: Q&A with PhD student Bradley Osborne who tells us about the upcoming William Golding symposium on the 8th April.

As he approaches the end of his degree, Bradley Osborne and colleague Arabella Currie are hosting a symposium on the work of William Golding. An extensive range of work by the Cornish-born author is held in the University of Exeter Special Collections and archives. These are used extensively by academics and students and, often, inspire teaching modules.

Bradley’s thesis argues that Golding’s novels had a clear goal to reawaken in his readers, a sense of strangeness and mystery in the world, which he felt had been lost as a result of contemporary developments in science and technology. The symposium, which will include talks from academics at the University of Exeter, Chester and Bath Spa, similarly seeks to shed new light on Golding’s works, where the writer’s creative output has suffered from a dearth of serious critical attention in the past two decades.

What attracted you to William Golding’s work as a basis for your PhD?

I was not at all a Golding expert before starting the PhD and in fact I originally had no intention of studying his work. It was only when the university advertised a funded PhD studentship on Golding and the archive that I seriously considered making his writing the focus of my research. I realised very quickly that the study of Golding had been virtually abandoned for several years and that there was therefore an opportunity to do something completely new and fresh. So I applied for the funding and, as they say, the rest is history.

How important was the Special Collections Golding archive to your research?

The archive has been absolutely essential to my research. It’s fair to say that I could not have written my thesis without it. My argument heavily depends on the findings that have come out of my study of the drafts and notebooks held in the archive. On a slightly different note, what else the archive has given me is a genuine sense of discovery that I had never experienced before as a student of English Literature. During my undergraduate and masters degrees, I wrote on texts that I knew well and liked well already, and about which I already had a firm idea of what I thought and what I wanted to say. Whereas as a PhD student, I’ve found that my conception of what Golding’s work is about could change quite drastically from week to week, because of the discoveries I was making.

How did the event come about? Can you provide some insight into your collaboration with Arabella Currie and the Golding estate?

It’s been something of a pet project of mine and Arabella’s for a long time now. On more than one occasion, we discussed the feasibility of putting on a Golding conference at Exeter. I must admit that I was rather pessimistic about the likelihood of attracting a large enough audience and array of speakers to present. It was Arabella’s idea to put on a digital event, and it’s an example perhaps of one of the very small number of positive results that have come out of the current pandemic. What this means for us is we can attract a global audience that might otherwise have been dissuaded from attending, had we organised an in-person event in Exeter. Golding’s name is internationally recognised, so it’s important that we in Exeter stay in touch with fans and scholars scattered across the globe.

Why do you feel that Golding’s creative work has suffered from a dearth of critical attention in the past 20 years?

I can certainly elaborate on it, though I wish I could explain it. Lord of the Flies, of course, suffers from being done (and therefore overdone) at secondary schools, so I suspect that most students are discouraged from reading the rest of Golding’s work. School textbooks are ultimately based on the academic scholarship, and the critical consensus on Golding has not changed very much since the 1960s. Back then, most critics argued that Golding was a pessimist as a result of his experiences during the Second World War, and thus they read his novels as allegories of the human condition. My guess is that the study of Golding collapsed from exhaustion – there was too much being written that had too little that was fresh and original to contribute to what was already known and thought about his work. But this is exactly why there is a huge opportunity now – thanks, in large part, to the archive being made available to researchers – for anybody who is interested in Golding to change the narrative, and this is what we are trying to encourage with this event.

What panels are you particularly looking forward to?

I must admit that I have a favourable bias towards research that is outside my own expertise – so I’m especially excited to hear Cristina Ferreira Pinto and Sofia de Melo Araújo’s paper on teaching Lord of the Flies in primary school and in universities. Otherwise, though, I think we have a nice range of papers, selected from a large number of proposals. The other presentations such as Adam Gutch’s proposal for a film & the conversation with Una McCormack and Nina Allan are hugely exciting too and will be a nice break from the more serious academic discussions which will take up the rest of the event.

The symposium aims to be an important first step in reawakening interest in Golding’s work and in re-establishing it as a viable field of study for future scholars. Exeter professor, Tim Kendall, told us that Arabella and Bradley are both writing ground-breaking books on Golding’s work and that the university are proud to be organising a virtual symposium on Golding’s achievement.

To register for the event and view a full programme see:

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/william-golding-beyond-good-and-evil-registration-143746949997?aff=ebdssbonlinesearch

Visiting Cornwall’s Museums the Green Way

Through the Professional Pathways programme at the University of Exeter, intern Nick Collins spent a week in June with Cornwall Museums Partnership…

For many people, working in a museum might sound like a dream job. I was one of those people (and indeed I still am), but in June I was lucky enough to find the only job that is even better – working across several museums, for the wonderful Cornwall Museums Partnership (CMP). My name is Nick Collins and I was with CMP for an all-too-brief secondment from the University of Exeter as part of their Professional Pathways programme. I visited museums and galleries across the county, and below I’m going to share my thoughts on the amazing exhibitions they were running. There’s another theme I’d also like to share. I’ve been trying to show how we can be greener in our museum visits, and help to reduce congestion on Cornwall’s roads, which were as busy as ever this summer. I travelled to all of these exhibitions using nothing more than public transport and my trusty steed (a bicycle, not a horse). But more on that in a moment…

On Monday, I started at Penlee House to see Munnings in Cornwall, an exhibition taking regulars there from the familiar territory of the early Newlyn School into the perhaps less familiar territory of the later Newlyn School, whilst also introducing new visitors to the beauty and humanity of this school of painting. It is that humanity which really shone through in this exhibition – perhaps ironically, given that its principle subject, Alfred Munnings, is best-known for painting horses. But, whatever the paintings show, we have to remember that it was people who made them, and this exhibition told those people’s stories with touching sensitivity. Often, the glimpses we get of artists’ lives are startlingly intimate. Munnings’ painting coat, palette and brushes were there, as were examples of his letters and sketchbooks and his beautiful poem to Jessica Heath. Harold Knight’s portrait of Munnings dominated the entrance to the exhibition, portraying only a few hints of the alleged tension between the two. It is one of three portraits of Munnings, another being a self-deprecating, caricatured self-portrait. Munnings’ contemporaries dominated the next two rooms, with Harold and Laura Knight, Samuel John “Lamorna” Birch, Frank Gascoigne Heath and Charles W. Simpson particularly prominent. They gave us a wonderful insight into the world of the Newlyn School’s less-famous later stages.

Come Tuesday, we made the longest trip of the week, all the way up to Bodmin (yes, by public transport!) to Cornwall’s Regimental Museum. Music was a great morale raiser; the army has known it for centuries – a story told with great insight and originality by CRM’s Citizen Curators, in their exhibition Music, Morale and the Military. There were some fantastic objects, including the D Day dodgers’ banjo, carried by soldiers in Italy in the Second World War in ironic reference to the derogatory nickname forced on them; and a Light Infantry Drum, which tied in very well to the rest of the museum and the superb videos which allowed former members of that regiment to tell its story in their own words. The real highlights, though, were the playable 1920s piano and the new recording of the DCLI Boys Marching Song (a local song probably not heard in almost 100 years), both of which made the exhibition a fantastic place to stay for a while and enjoy the atmosphere. The exhibition was created by the Citizen Curators, a group of five volunteers who put it together over a period of several months. The programme will be running again with new volunteers from October 2019 to April 2020 across several museums in Cornwall. Have a look at this blog post for much more information on that.

The spirit of community curation was alive and well in Falmouth Art Gallery’s exhibition Stuff and Nonsense, which I saw on the Wednesday. There were several pieces of community-curated art, plus the chance for every single person who walked through the door to contribute, with visitors being asked to upload photos of their own “shrines” in response to those created for the exhibition, and also to leave their own found objects alongside those in the exhibition.

The Nonsense half of this exhibition was brilliantly uplifting, featuring illustrations from Quentin Blake, Tony Ross and Edward Lear. There was even a woodblock used in the illustration of Alice in Wonderland, alongside Lewis Carrol’s diary, a real highlight. Several fantastic automata also found their way into the exhibition. The library, housed in the same building, featured more, including an enormous example based on Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast books.

Uplifting Nonsense

To return to the transport theme, Thursday presented an unusual challenge. Many people would see Portcurno Telegraph Museum as inaccessible by public transport, but there is in fact a bus which stops right outside it. Admittedly, the unusual challenge I mentioned was the fact that said bus broke down in St Buryan on the return journey, but I’m sure that doesn’t happen often… If the owner of St Buryan Caterers, who very kindly gave me a lift back to Penzance, is reading, thanks once again!

The escape stairs from the Second World War bunker at Porthcurno Telegraph Museum

The Telegraph Museum itself is today perhaps more relevant than it’s ever been – as we live through our own communications revolution, it becomes ever more important to understand previous ones. At Porthcurno that story is told not only in terms of the technology (which is covered superbly through working objects and demonstrations) but the people who used and made it, whose lives are shown through their photos and possessions. The highlight is the spectacular Second World War bunker, filled with hundreds of artefacts, many of which are still working. The photo here is the escape stairs, a tunnel leading from the bunker all the way to the surface and beautiful views of the valley.

I finished the week at Royal Cornwall Museum for their exhibition Eye to the Skyexhibition, which told the story of John Couch Adams, who predicted the discovery of Neptune, through Manga. It is an incredible story, and a highly innovative way of telling it. The Manga sat alongside more traditional museum objects, including a large celestial globe and the astonishingly-restored portrait of Adams, which has been transformed from quite literally having a hole in the unfortunate astronomer’s forehead to as good as new. Bringing both of these approaches together created something far better than either style could have achieved alone.

So what did I learn during my week? A lot. More than I can really say. I’ve been lucky enough to work in museums before and if this experience has been an exception it’s because it’s been even better than those other times. Museums tell us stories, entertain us and make us think, but never has it been clearer to me that they can also change lives. From the Citizen Curators who put on such wonderful exhibitions, some of whom have gone on to continued involvement in the heritage sector, to the home-educated children who I saw taking part in a workshop in Falmouth, I have come to understand that museums are about more than probably most people realise. They harness history and the arts as a positive force for the present, and it has been an honour to see how much difference that can make.

I would like to thank the University of Exeter for their part in organising this placement and for the stimulating and enlightening training I took part in. Most of all, I can’t thank the people at CMP and all of the museums in the partnership enough. I hope to see you all again sometime.

 

South West Federation Conference 2019: ‘Inspiring Audiences: Home and Away’

Imogene Dudley, a PhD student in the History Department at the University of Exeter, tells us about her experience of attending the South West Fed conference in July…

Thanks to the generosity of the South-West Federation of Museums and Art Galleries, myself and several other students from the University of Exeter got the chance to attend their recent conference, hosted by Cornerstone Heritage at the University of Plymouth on 4-5 July. The theme of the conference was ‘Inspiring Audiences: Home and Away’.

The train journey from Exeter to Plymouth, along the beautiful South Devon coast, inspired an excited, holiday feeling in my small group of Exeter students before we had even arrived at the conference. We are all postgraduate students in the Humanities and had applied for the free tickets as we want a career in the heritage sector. We hoped that the talks would give us a more detailed and specific insight into the industry, and that by networking with delegates we might gain some useful contacts. At the very least, it would be an interesting couple of days. We were not disappointed!

The conference began with a keynote from Stephen Bird, Head of Heritage Services at Bath and North East Somerset Council, who is responsible for tourist attractions including the world-famous Roman Baths. He spoke about the importance of meeting the needs of both local audiences and international tourists, and told us about new developments in accessibility and education at the attraction. The first day also saw talks regarding the tensions between protecting and preserving Stonehenge, finding new ways to engage the community with church spaces, and the challenges involved with curating the Mayflower 400 exhibition (due to open in Plymouth in 2020), as well as a workshop on how to use audience research to improve engagement and development with heritage sites.

After a rejuvenating night’s sleep, we were all ready to learn more about the heritage sector on our second day at the conference. We listened to another fascinating keynote, this time by Victoria Rogers on the building of the Cardiff Museum from scratch and the involvement of the community, and talks on how to use work experience to engage disadvantaged youth with the heritage and arts sector, the story of the new Kresen Kernow archives in Cornwall, and how Castle Drogo has kept its audiences interested during important renovation work. We also heard from Cornerstone Heritage about how it has been uncovering the LGBT history of Powderham Castle and integrating it into public tours in an understanding and empathetic way.

All in all, it was an extremely interesting and stimulating two days. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the South-West Federation for providing free tickets to Exeter students, as without this I would have been unable to attend. The formal talks and the informal networking that is involved in conference attendance gave me a valuable insight into the heritage industry and gave me the inspiration and confidence to apply for jobs in the sector.

The City Museum – preserving the heritage of Exeter City Football Club

The main achievement of the HLF-funded Exeter City Football Club Museum project has been the creation of a sport heritage museum at St James Park, home to Exeter City Football Club (2019). The project, a collaboration between Exeter University and Exeter City Football Trust and Club, is led by Gabriella Giannachi, an expert in performance art and new media documentation and preservation in the museum context. Gabriella wanted to utilise research methodologies developed with Tate, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, LIMA and RAMM, and adapt them in the context of sport heritage. Will Barrett, a researcher at Exeter University, has been the project co-ordinator, and Club and Trust Directors Martin Weiler, Paul Farley and Elaine Davies have acted as members of the project management team that regularly meets to discuss progress and assess the stream of donations the Club has been receiving since announcing it would set up a museum to look after its heritage. Since 2016, over 30 undergraduate Exeter University student volunteers, experts in conservation, art and design, heritage, and photography, as well as a large number of fan volunteers, have contributed to the project.

The setting up of a museum is the culmination of a five-year collaboration which started in 2013. At that time, Gabriella was working with Tate and RAMM to create platforms that would allow people to encounter their collections outside of the museum. Gabriella wanted to test the Timetrails platform she developed with Will, 1010 Media and RAMM in a different context. Tom Cadbury, Assistant Curator for Antiquities at RAMM, pointed out that the Club had a lot of heritage and introduced them to Paul who was already at that time looking after the heritage there. With some seed funding from HEIF, a number of trails about the Club were created and tested, and they soon realised that what they really wanted was to collect, digitise, preserve and share the heritage at the club to unearth its rich and valuable history.

A pilot website called The Grecian Archive was developed to this extent by the Digital Humanities Lab at the University. The popularity of the site soon encouraged the team to bid to the Arts and Humanities research Council (AHRC) for being part of the Being Human Festival in 2016 to employ the professional football photographer and FIFA consultant Peter Robinson, who then documented the Old Grandstand, which was about to be demolished. At the same time, they also bid to HLF so that they could start to catalogue the heritage and crowdsource missing elements in the Club’s history through a series of heritage gathering events. These led to the documentation of more than 80 fans’ and players’ memories about the Club’s heritage, looking specifically at the Old Grandstand. These interviews led to the production of two long films, a set of 3D scans (also produced by the Lab), three trails, and, through a subsequent HLF award, three medium-length films, two temporary exhibitions and six permanent exhibitions. The latter include the recently launched Legends Wall, running along the jungle path; A Chronology and Hall of Fame in the brand new Stagecoach Adam Stansfield stand; and a bespoke museum room, which has a number of displays and is very popular on tours. A film shot by the HLF South West Development Officer capturing this amazing story will be launched soon.

Together for Heritage – with the University of Exeter

The South West Fed is an independent membership organisation that aims to:

  • Demonstrate the strength and breadth of heritage in the South West;
  • Connect people together for the benefit of organisations and their audiences;
  • Inspire those working in and for heritage in the South West to deliver to the highest standards.

Our annual conference is one of the opportunities we create to deliver on these aims. For the last three years, we’ve been fortunate to be hosted by, and work in partnership with, the University of Exeter, where the facilities allow us to deliver a conference that raises the bar and meets our aspiration to be the leading heritage sector event in the region. The sun shining each time we’ve been there helps too!

We strive to hit a sweet spot with our conference, which is serving a regional sector where 30% of museums are entirely volunteer run. To hit that spot, we want delegates to be both inspired and to take away practical examples to help their organisations or practice. We also want to ensure that the opportunities to network are relaxed and varied, with a range of delegates from students to senior professionals.

2018 was the first year we’ve put out a call for papers, and we were delighted with the variety of responses to the theme of ‘Visits and Collections’. A stand-out element was the contribution from students and researchers such as Rosalind Mearns (on dress up installations) or Dr Andrew Rudd and curator Holly Morgenroth (on the Cresswell collection at RAMM, which brilliantly complemented presentations from those working on the frontline, such as keynote Helen Bonser Wilton, CEO of the Mary Rose Trust, or the trials and tribulations of delivering a family-friendly museum by Aerospace Bristol.

Break-out rooms were used to get hands-on in workshops, including how to pack a crisp courtesy of Wiltshire Council Conservation and Museum Advisory Service!

The networking opportunities were buzzing with delegates’ conversations about what had inspired them, surrounded by our valued corporate members’ trade stands and a display about the Cresswell collection.

Next year, we continue our collaboration with the University by holding the conference at the Penryn campus, in partnership with Cornwall Museums Partnership. The theme is ‘Inspiring Audiences Home and Away’ – and if that inspires you to think about submitting a paper, then look out for the call in November this year!

Written by Anna Bryant, MA, AMA

Anna has worked in and for museums of all shapes and sizes across curatorial, interpretation, audience development and marketing roles during the last 18 years.  She was Chair of the South West Fed from 2016-18 and currently works for Volunteer Makers.

www.swfed.org.uk

@SWFed @AnnaBryantSW

Creativity and Stewardship in Changing Landscapes

Mid-Cornwall’s china clay country has seen many changes over the last several hundred years, and it continues to change along with the clay industry and the surrounding communities. In dynamic landscapes like this, planning for the future while respecting the past and offering opportunities for community engagement can be challenging.

In early May, a diverse group of people gathered for a workshop at the Wheal Martyn Museum in St Austell to talk about the role of the Arts in landscape management and development activity in places like the china clay area. Artists, industry representatives, curators, academics, heritage practitioners, land managers and others spent three days talking about how creative perspectives can help reframe problems as possibilities, and suggest new forms of stewardship for transitional places.

Workshop participants continued their discussions in the field on visits to the Sky Tip, Littlejohns Pit and Blackpool Pit. Sean Simpson, Imerys Business Development Coordinator, and Chris Varcoe, who is working with Eco-Bos on the West Carclaze development, led the field trip and offered their inside perspective on some of the challenges and opportunities presented by the post-operational china clay landscape. Chris said: “Eco-Bos were delighted to have the opportunity to participate in the wide-ranging and thought-provoking discussions that took place during the workshop, and to have the opportunity to share with the group its innovative proposals for the West Carclaze Garden Village.”

Workshop participants at Littlejohns Pit, Cornwall

The workshop was linked to the Heritage Futures research project, a four-year project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. Professor Caitlin DeSilvey, of the University of Exeter’s Environment and Sustainability Institute, is leading research into heritage and transformation. Sites beyond Cornwall include a rewilding project in Portugal and the ex-military site of Orford Ness on the Suffolk coast. Participants in the May workshop included Heritage Futures project partners from Portugal, as well as other international participants from Ireland and the United States.

Jo Moore, Wheal Martyn Museum curator, commented: “There was a real buzz from the group over the few days and everyone I spoke to clearly found them stimulating and really enjoyable.” The group produced a set of draft principles, which integrated perspectives from industry, heritage and creative practice.  For more information about the Heritage Futures project and the workshop outcomes, please contact Caitlin DeSilvey, .

 

Three tips on building a career in international heritage management

The University of Exeter is offering all new students enrolling on its MA International Heritage Management and Consultancy programme in September 2018 a £1,000 tuition fee discountRead more and apply now.

1. Identify your strengths and weaknesses. What fields of heritage management are you interested in? Do you think you’d enjoy the practical, day-to-day elements of being a heritage consultant as well as the theoretical aspects of public history?

There is no set career path in heritage, which can be daunting for some, but liberating for others. I stumbled into heritage management because of my archaeological and anthropological work in southern Africa. My first degree was in history, and my MA was in Heritage and Museum Studies. Doing fieldwork and volunteering in countries outside of Europe not only gives you a taste of what it’s like to work with diverse groups – often with vastly different, and even sometimes irreconcilable worldviews – but it also helps you identify what you’re good at. This in turn will allow you to target specific companies and institutions within heritage sectors – both in the UK and abroad – when you are applying for jobs.

2. Network! I’d also thought I wasn’t cut out for networking. Surely all the big names in the heritage sector were fed up of overly-eager and recently-qualified graduates introducing themselves at events and sending emails asking about upcoming opportunities? It turns out, however, that most of the established experts who pull the strings (and often control the purse strings) are affable, approachable, and keen to meet new people – especially if they are passionate about their subject and heritage in general.

Word of mouth is a powerful tool. Heritage experts in the UK often know and collaborate with heritage experts overseas. If someone that is respected by colleagues endorses you, it’s likely that you’re more than half way to making it onto a future employer’s shortlist, whether in the UK or abroad.

3. Gain extra qualifications, and volunteer. In addition to courses like the University of Exeter’s new MA in International Heritage Management and Consultancy, volunteering is an excellent idea – especially because many of your competitors will likely have done the same. Volunteering – both in the UK and abroad – not only provides you with invaluable new experiences and a chance to identify your strengths and weaknesses, it also helps you expand your professional network. Most of all, working abroad is rewarding, and fun!

Written by Dr Jamie Hampson, Senior Lecturer in Heritage, University of Exeter, Penryn Campus