Thursday, June 25, 2015

A behind-the-scenes work placement

A guest-blog from our work placement student, Sean.

It is the final hour of my six-week work placement and the culmination of a really enjoyable experience. I am a student studying History at the University of Huddersfield. For my course, it was compulsory to complete a six-week long work placement towards the conclusion of my second year. I have had a keen interest in museums since a very young age and decided to pursue a placement in museums. 

I believe local history is a very important part of the study of past events, leading to multiple interpretations and being in many ways more personal to those who study it. Local history can also affect the way national and global history is studied and viewed. Due to this keen interest, I decided to complete a placement at Wakefield Museums and spent most of my time in their Museum Store.

My role was to go through objects in the Museum Store, check their condition and audit their location onto the museum database; which is a brand new skill that I know would come in handy for a future job in years to come. 

The most interesting objects I came across at the store were in the Miners' Strike section, where I came across badges and memorabilia in support of the miners - and also in opposition to the so-called ‘scabs’ who didn’t participate in the strikes. Next year, I am completing a dissertation on Margaret Thatcher and the study of these objects has really helped.  

I was taken aback by the sheer variety of objects which I recorded onto the databases. In the end, I managed to audit just over 1450 very diverse objects, including: 

  • Fans
  • Paintbrushes
  • Punch and Judy Memorabilia
  • Moulder’s Tools
  • Miners Strike Badges/Miners Lamps etc
  • Shaving Accessories
  • Brewery Bottles
  • Pipe Bowls
  • Collection of Glass Negatives
  • Cigarette/Tobacco Accessories

I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and will take away many skills for future employment. I feel like I have learnt a significant amount about local history in the West Yorkshire region and this will bode well for my academic studies back in Huddersfield.

Monday, June 15, 2015

New Online Museum Catalogue - Liquorice

An exciting new searchable catalogue with over 1550 items from our liquorice collections has been put online. 

The catalogue contains items relating to companies that have shaped the industry in Pontefract and Castleford.  It is based on the themes of advertising, growing, manufacturing, packaging and people related to the local industry.

Liquorice is an important part of the museum’s collection, and the new online catalogue complements the new liquorice displays in Pontefract Museum. 

Highlights of the catalogue include:

Early 19th century hand stamps for stamping Pontefract Cakes.

The spade used by Mr Carter, who was the last commercial liquorice grower in Pontefract.

Mr Carter's Liquorice Spade - from the last commercially grown crop in Pontefract

Packaging for liquorice confectionary produced in the area, including early 19th century tins for Pontefract cakes made by Dunhills, the reputed inventor of the famous Pontefract Cake!

Dunhills Liquorice tin
This catalogue, along with our other online catalogues can be viewed by clicking here.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Come and work with us!

We have recently advertised two jobs - would you like to join us?

Museum Curatorial and Collections Assistant
We are looking for an enthusiastic and self-motivated individual, preferably with museum's collections experience, to join our team.The successful applicant will support the management and development of a museum collection that covers a range of disciplines and  has a particular focus on local history, general social history and archaeology.

Key areas of work include contributing to establishing and maintaining good curatorial practices and procedures, supporting collections inventory and audit control, responding to public enquiries and preparing displays and exhibitions. An ability to work methodically
 with an attention to detail is essential.

The post is based at Wakefield Museum, but will work across all our museum sites as well as the main museum store.

Exhibition and Display Assistant
We are looking for an enthusiastic and creative individual who is passionate about museums and heritage. You will  assist in the practical delivery of Wakefield Museums' exhibition and display programme.

With excellent three-dimensional build skills you will create exhibition elements within the museum workshop, at Wakefield One, and install across our museum sites, whilst also maintaining the permanent displays to good working order. You will have a good understanding of health and safety issues, be able to work to strict deadlines, and work well in a team.

This is a temporary part time post, to cover a 12 month  career break and includes a two month notice period  from either party within the duration of the contract of employment.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Aviary in the Atrium, by Andy Singleton

As part of the Nightingale Festival, Wakefield Museums invited artists to create atrium cases at Wakefield One inspired by 150 Nightingales or 150 birds in Waterton's life.  

We had some wonderful ideas from a wide range of artists.  The chosen proposal was from Andy Singleton.  The display will be in place at the end of June.

Andy Singleton is an British paper artist and illustrator based in Wakefield, England. His work is an exploration of the natural and man-made world through intricate paper cuttings, paper sculpture, hand drawn illustrations and large scale installation works.

Dust Clouds in the Eagle Nebula, 2010 Photo: Richard Sweeney

Andy was born in Nottingham in 1983, but moved to Wakefield at the age of 3. With a strong interest in creative subjects throughout his life, Andy decided to pursue a career as a professional artist. He studying foundation level art art Leeds College of Art and then Animation with Illustration at Manchester Metropolitan University, graduating in 2006. It was during his time at University, that he began to focus on paper as his main material for creating art. 

Merlion, Harrods, London, 2015 
In 2009 he returned to Wakefield and set up his studio to begin to practice as a professional artist, where he began to develop a reputation for very intricate large scale installation works. Andy has now produced work for variety of high profile clients, including the Crafts Council, Liberty, Harrods, Kensington Palace, Manchester Art Gallery, DDB Australia and The Hepworth. 

The Hepworth winter sculpture, 2013 Photo: Andy Singleton

Andy has also exhibited his work internationally, including the USA, the Netherlands, Germany and Spain.

Currently Andy works from his studio at Westgate Studios, in the centre of Wakefield. 

Andy has shared some images that track the development of the display at Wakefield One

Beginning with a picture of a nightingale... develop initial sketches

A test card nightingale

A finished nightingale perched upon Waterton's books

We are very excited about this display and can't wait to see the finished atrium cases.  In the meantime there are lots of other events linked to the Nightingale Festival.

For full details of Nightingale Festival events please see Nightingale Festival 
@WFMuseums #Waterton150

Charles Waterton