Friday, November 27, 2015

Our next adult workshop

We had a fantastic evening with Andy Singleton making paper birds on 11th November. 

Paper birds made with Andy Singleton's instruction - a fun evening!

Next month, we will still be working with paper to try bookbinding, with Timid Elk.

Timid Elk trained in ceramics but found more joy in creating the paper test pieces - and so now mostly works with paper.  Her work includes exquisitely intricate shaped paper pieces, and she has designed a workshop for us with her trademark use of old Ordinance Survey Maps.

Some of you may have seen a piece of Timid Elk work on display in Wakefield before - including the gorgeous lamp that was on display outside the museum for the 2014 Lit Fest.

This lamp was made by Timid Elk
Close-up of this extraordinary piece

Of course, in a day's workshop, we can't expect to be able to create something like this! 

To get a taste of the techniques, we are running a day's workshop on Saturday 12th December to create a hand-bound book.

Create a Hand Bound Book - with Timid Elk
Saturday 12 December
Wakefield Museum Learning Zone
10am to 4pm
Adult session – ages 18+
£15 per head – including light refreshments (Lunch not provided, but there is a cafĂ© on site)

Learn the technique of hand binding to create an individual sketchbook/notebook. Decorate your book by taking inspiration and utilising a selection of Ordinance Survey maps.
Bookings with full payment must be made in advance.  Click here to follow a link to online payments


Friday, November 20, 2015

Working with the next generation of teachers!

We have had a couple of fantastic work placement teaching students working with us:

Our names are Megan and Terri. We are studying Primary Education: Early Years at Leeds Trinity University and over the past two weeks, we have undertaken a placement with the Wakefield Museum Services.

The purpose of our placement has been to experience learning in an alternative setting.
Throughout the two weeks, we have had the opportunity to observe several workshops (such as WW1, Victorian and Egyptian) and assist with the activities involved in them such as handling artefacts. Having the chance to handle some real artefacts such as weapons used in WW1 really excited us and we were both fascinated by the mummified baby crocodile in the Ancient Egyptian collection!
Mummified baby crocodile
The children involved in these workshops have been both Key Stage One and Two children. These workshops were very interesting and engaging, but they also allowed us to successfully develop our own subject knowledge and confidence when working with children. We also observed a workshop at Sandal Castle and were given the chance to visit other places off site such as Pontefract and Castleford Museums and Pontefract Castle (where we went on a magazine tour) to gain a broader knowledge of how museums and heritage sites contribute to education.

Completing our placement at Wakefield Museum has allowed us to see how History lessons in school can be developed into cross-curricular sessions. For example, the WW1 session that introduces children to Wakefield soldier George Kellett incorporated diary writing, therefore covering aspects of the Literacy curriculum. Part of this session involves an actor portraying George Kellett by reading extracts from his diary to the children. We were also given an insight of how much content is covered in each session depending on the time allocated to it. We found that the amount of content covered was perfect for the amount of time a session lasted.
George Kellett's diary

Actor playing George Kellett
As well as observing and supporting workshops, we were given a project to work on throughout our placement. This was to create a teaching pack on Charles Waterton that the museum could use to encourage schools to engage more with local study and the museum itself. In order to help us with this, we researched Charles Waterton extensively (both before and during the placement) and visited the Charles Waterton exhibit in the museum. We put together three cross-curricular sessions to support the teaching of Charles Waterton in both Key Stage One and Two and also included a range of possible follow up activities, early years input, outdoor activities and possible visits (such as Walton Hall where Charles Waterton lived) that may enhance learning.
Caiman caught by Charles Waterton in 1820
It is very difficult to choose one aspect of our time at Wakefield Museum as our favourite because there has been such a wide variety of opportunity. However, our particular highlights were handling artefacts from a range of different historical periods, watching children’s faces when they saw these artefacts and observing the role play part of the WW1 workshop. We would definitely recommend this placement to other students and we look forward to bringing our future classes to the museum!
Thank you Megan and Terri - it has been great to have some fresh insights into our sessions. We wish you well with your studies and hope to see you with your classes in the future!


Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Secret History: the Ballot, the Borough and Britain

Friday 13 November, 12.30 – 1.30
Nelson Room, Pontefract Town Hall.

A rare opportunity to examine the impact of secret voting in Britain. Join one of Britain’s most important parliamentary experts,   David Natzler, Clerk of the House of Commons, and curators from Pontefract Museum to explore the seismic change to Britain’s democratic system caused by Britain’s first secret ballot in Pontefract in 1872.

The ballot box used in 1872
Tickets are free, but must be booked by calling 01924 302700,  emailing or collecting a ticket from Pontefract Museum.

The ballot box

Pontefract was centre stage on the 15 August 1872 when the first secret ballot in the Northern Hemisphere was held to elect a member of Parliament.

This was the first time that people had voted in secret by placing an ‘X’ on a ballot paper next to the name of their choice – the system that we now take for granted.

One of the boxes used to hold the ballot papers is now on display in Pontefract Museum. It is still marked with the wax seals used to ensure the votes were not tampered with once the box was closed.

The seal was made using a liquorice stamp from Frank Dunhill’s factory, which shows the image of a castle and an owl. The owl was the emblem of the Savile family who were local landowners. The castle is similar to the design that is still seen on Pontefract cakes today. For many years Pontefract cakes were given their distinctive design by hand using just this sort of stamp.

Pontefract has held a charter since 1484 so it is odd that the box was not sealed using an official stamp. Perhaps it was a sign that the local officials did not think much of this new system of voting. Or maybe they just used what first came to hand, which in a town so involved in the liquorice industry, was this stamp.

Frank Dunhill may have been a presiding officer overseeing the ballot. One of his roles would have been to check that the box was empty before voting began – to prove that there were no voting papers already in the box. He could then have used his stamp to seal the box ready for use.

The votes were counted and the results announced at the Town Hall in Pontefract, where H.C. Childers was elected MP for the town.

The Times newspaper of the following day reported that

‘The first election under the Ballot Act has been throughout peaceful. Persons of great experience declare that they never saw a contested election in which less intoxicating liquor was drunk. No charges of bribery are rife, and the election appears to have been fought on both sides on principles of purity’.

This was a great change from earlier elections, which had often been riotous and uncontrolled affairs, with people voting openly rather than in secret. At the time there were even complaints that this new system took ‘all the life’ out of voting. This first ballot was however seen as a success and set the standard that we still use worldwide today.

The ballot box has recently been 'on tour' to parliament as part of the Festival of Freedoms, and can now be seen at Pontefract Museum.