Monday, November 25, 2013

The Great War Inspires at Pontefract Museum

This year Wakefield Museums were successful in securing funding from Arts Council England to deliver a two year development project to build stronger museums. As part of this we have commissioned Faceless Company to deliver a project using museum collections to inspire an artwork and exhibition to commemorate 100 years since the outbreak of World War One.
Faceless Company have written this guest blog explaning in more detail their plans for the project:

Faceless Arts are pleased to have been commissioned by Wakefield Council to develop an exhibition for Pontefract Museum with involvement from the local community. Inspired by World War One the project ‘The Great War Inspires’, will bring together people from the Pontefract community to help create four large wall hangings, which will become part of an exhibition which can be seen at the museum from 25th January 2014.
Work has already begun on the commission, with artists, Stephanie James, Helen Thomas and Tony Wade preparing at Faceless Base for the community workshops; and working with inspiring images to inform the final artwork. Tony and Helen told us a little bit about how they came up with ideas for the staging of the final exhibition.
‘Researching for this project we were struck by the scale of the conflict, from the vast numbers of casualties and geographical spread to the unimaginable short distances between some of the trenches on the battlefields.
According to John Hamilton in "Trench Fighting of World War I", (ABDO, 2003), the shortest recorded distance between German and British trenches was near Zonnebeke in Belgium. The opposing trenches were separated by a distance of approximately 7 metres (23 feet).
When planning this exhibition we were given the dimensions of the Temporary Exhibition Space at Pontefract Museum. The length of the room is 8m. So we have set off with the intention of interpreting that space, the space between the conflicting sides, and wanting the viewer to stand at one side of the room a look across a 7m gap. ‘

An idea of what the final piece may look like
We will begin the community workshops in Pontefract on 10th December and plan to work with groups as diverse as The British Legion, Air Cadets and the Pontefract Live at Home Scheme. We are excited to be working with several new groups such as Pontefract’s Air Cadets and the Royal Air Force Association.
Taking inspiration from the silk handkerchiefs from the museum’s collection of World War One artefacts, artists will support participants to create their own silk paintings using imagery from the Great War. These paintings will then be cut and woven together to create the wall hangings for the exhibition. Participants will also have the opportunity to explore artefacts from the museum’s WW1 collection and discuss their own thoughts and experiences of warfare today and 100 years ago. Part of our project work with participatory groups will look at people’s experiences of conflict at home and on active service today, and in the past, in comparison to the First World War. These personal and social insights, along with stories from local people who experienced the First World War, will help to inform the art works and provide a soundtrack to the exhibition. 
A silk handkerchief from dating from 1914 - 1918 from Wakefield Museums collections.
We hope that the final exhibition will commemorate the Great War and immerse the audience in the experience, inspiring the myriad of feelings that such a wide ranging and terrible conflict can inspire. We plan on transforming the space to evoke a ‘No Man’s Land’ and explore all sides of the war, through music, poetry and the stories of local people both at home and in battle.  During The Battle of the Somme, it is said that some 60,000 men died within a single day, to put this into context, the population of Pontefract is 28,000.
Through this commission, we will explore the issues and themes of the Great War with people living locally to the exhibition, and perhaps most importantly, ‘we will remember them’.
For updates on this project follow on Twitter @MyWakefield #TGWI


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Moustache Maintenance

Guest blogger: Percy Tew's moustache

Hello friends, you may remember me from my previous ‘guest blog’ (Moustache Musings).  I have been invited by Wakefield Museums to instruct Movember moustache wearers on how to maintain perfect facial hair.
If you do not recall my previous moustache musings, allow me to introduce myself.  I am the bushy bristles residing on the upper lip of the venerable banker Percy Tew.
The venerable banker Percy Tew and I
I am here to instruct all you fine gentlemen on the best way to care for your whiskers.  As you can see, Mr Percy Tew keeps me in fine fettle - perfectly shaped, bushy, dignified yet manly. Even if I do say so myself I am a fine example of facial hair.

Let us start with shaving. First and foremost you must invest in the best razors you can afford.  I recommend razors made by Sheffield cutlers Joseph Rodgers (they were granted a royal warrant in 1822 - so quality is guaranteed).  Mr Tew uses this luxury set.  Each razor is inscribed with a day of the week.  This allows the blade to ‘rest’ between shavings keeping it sharp and in tip top condition.  There is a new invention that has recently come onto the market - the safety razor - I am yet to be convinced of its ability to give a close shave; I believe it to be a flash in the pan.
Mr Tew's luxury razor set
In order to create a good thick and bushy moustache I would recommend the use of ‘Bears Grease’.  This amazing product, made from the fat of the brown bear mixed with beef marrow and perfume, creates a good thick strand, and I think you will agree that it has delivered those results for Mr Tew.  Bears' Grease is an exclusive product, so those of you who do not enjoy the financial benefits that banking brings to a man, you can make your own version by mixing suet with beef marrow.  Now add scents to your pleasure.  May I suggest oil of lavender or a touch of oil of thyme?

Now that you have achieved bushy strands you must strive to ensure that your moustache remains in perfect shape.  This can be done with the liberal application of moustache wax and frequent brushing with a moustache brush.  You can see below an example of a fine moustache brush.  I would also recommend the use of a moustache snood.  This rather clever invention is a wide length of lightweight fabric (ask your dear wives to source this for you) cut to accommodate the nose, worn over the head at night.  You wake in the morning to a perfectly formed moustache. 
I will now tackle a rather delicate matter. For those of you who are entering the later stages of life and your once resplendent dark hair is on the turn to a paler grey, there is a solution.  This miraculous recipe will have you looking like a young man again.  It works on all hair types.
Take 3 parts of litharge and 2 of quicklime, both in an impalpable powder, and mix them carefully. When used, a portion of the powder is mixed with hot water or milk, and applied to the hair, the part being afterwards enveloped in oil-skin, or a cabbage-leaf, for 4 or 5 hours.
No one will ever notice, that I can guarantee.
Dear friends I have imparted my most agreeable tips for the perfect moustache. I send my deepest regard to those of you who are sporting facial hair in the name of Movember.
Let me add that the good people at Wakefield Museum are hosting a splendid event in celebration of men’s hair on Wednesday 27 November 5.00 – 7.30pm.  I implore you to call in and experience the grand entertainment.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Staff highlights tour of Wakefield Museum

Some of you may have already had a go at some of the family digitrails in Wakefield Museum - fun quizzes and trails using units which use sound, video and photos to explore the collection.


We now have another addition to our digitrail options - our staff highlights trail.

Several of the museum staff, including designer, curator, front-of-house and more have chosen their favourite object on display, and recorded a short film telling you about it in more detail.

The trails are very easy to use, and are free.  Just ask one of our Visitor Hosts to set you up with a machine and headphones and discover more about the collection!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Hair Do

What do handlebars, Mexicans, pencils and toothbrushes all have in common? They are all names of moustache styles. A well groomed and super smart exhibition opened recently at Wakefield Museum - ‘Men in the Mirror’ explores men’s hair in all its glory!

In celebration of marvelous moustaches, bushy beards and happening haircuts we are holding a grand Hurrah for hair at our Men in The Mirror Hair-Do.

Drop into Wakefield Museum for an evening of free entertainment including barbershop style music, traditional barbering displays, and plenty of facial hair frolics!  Plus a short play inspired by the exhibition written and performed by Yew Tree Youth Theatre.
There will also be special large screen showings of the ‘Barber’s Boy’ – a specially commissioned film celebrating the life and work of local barber extraordinaire David Grice.

This event forms part of the Wakefield Artwalk.
Free admission to event and activities.
Wednesday 27 November
5.00 – 7.30pm

Wakefield Museum, Wakefield One, Burton Street, Wakefield, WF1 2DD

My hair was slicked down with a part. But that was before I discovered the blow-dryer. Now I'm fabulous. Barry Manilow

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Castleford Forum Museum previewed by YACs

Today the Pontefract Branch of the Young Archaeologists' Club came for a special preview of Castleford Forum Museum in order to write a review for December's Young Archaeologist Magazine.

The group of YACs were introduced to the archaeology of Castleford and its surroundings - an area incredibly rich in finds, before handling some Roman objects from our handling collection, and trying out one of our new Roman archaeology quiz sheets.

The Young Archaeologists Club looked at some amazing objects

Using iPods, the YACs then photographed their 3 favourite objects, noting the reasons for their choices.

A wide range of objects were chosen, and for a wide range of reason, including:

Roman gaming counters - because 'I like board games', 'It looks like one of our games'
Roman chatelaine - because 'It's really unusual', 'It's amazing!'
Roman sandal - because 'It is in such good condition for how old it is', 'The pattern is really unusual'
Roman tile with paw print - because 'It reminds me of my dog', 'It shows that the Romans may have had pets, like us', 'Because it's amazing to see that a dog left its mark'
By far, the group's most favourite thing was the Iron Age Chariot burial, which amazed everyone ('It is a very dramatic object' 'The person must have been of great importance to have been buried in such a manner' 'It shows great craft skill')

Iron Age Chariot Burial

The group were then asked what they wanted to tell other YACs about the new museum, and they said:

  • I would recommend this museum to all other YACs
  • It has amazing finds and interesting artefacts
  • You need to take your time and look carefully to take it all in
  • It can teach you lots just by looking - but if you have questions, do ask the staff rather than go away wondering!
  • The museum is very beautifully arranged
  • The Iron Age Chariot burial is AMAZING!
So we think they liked it!

We then had a go at building replica Iron Age Chariots.  The scaled-down chariots were powered by balloons rather than miniature horses, but the principles remained the same - a fixed axle and spinning wheels...

Building a model chariot!

Adding the fixed axle...

Chariot racing!

Chariot racing!

A huge thanks to the Pontefract Young Archaeologists for coming and trying out the new museum!
The local branch of YACs is based at Pontefract castle, meeting once a month on the second Saturday.   Sessions are all on an archaeological theme, including craft skills, practical archaeological skills, and plenty of fun! There are usually several opportunities each year to take part in real archaeology, either within the club itself or via connected organisations.  

For more information email or call 01924 223373