Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Finding Alice Gostick

In this special post, our brilliant Research Volunteer, Katie, tells us about her experience tracing the life of Alice Gostick, an influential local art teacher, who worked at Castleford School from 1911 - 1930.


Finding Alice's past


Born in Newcastle-Under-Lyme, Staffordshire in 1875, Miss Alice Gostick was later to move to Castleford and become the art teacher for Henry Moore, one of the most influential sculptors of his time. But what about Alice herself? My task as a Research Volunteer was to investigate Alice and find out more about her life aside from teaching Moore. However, finding information on Miss Gostick was no easy feat.

Initially, I was advised to start my research by browsing the family history website, Find My Past. This website is a phenomenal resource, which includes copies from censuses, birth, marriage and death records, the 1939 Register and more. As I had not used this site before, I needed some time to become familiar with how to navigate the records. However, this did not take long as the site is certainly user-friendly.

From here, I was able to gain an understanding of Alice’s early life. Her parents were Clair (b.1845) and Arthur Gostick (b.1844). She had one older sister named Constance (b.1874) and one younger brother named Frank (b.1878). Before Alice moved to Castleford and began teaching at Castleford School, she worked as an Art Mistress in Staffordshire and lived with her sister.

There were some difficulties with using Find My Past. As the site has all public records, there were some occasions where my search would return multiple people called Alice Gostick, which required some figuring out to ensure I was using the correct record. For example, there were several Alice Gosticks, who may have died at around the same time. Additionally, the site does not have any qualitative data, so I could not find much information about Alice as a person.

As there was not any marriage record for Alice, that led me to believe that she remained unmarried. This idea was furthered when I began to read biographies on Henry Moore that had some information on Alice. In Roger Berthoud’s The Life of Henry Moore (1987), Alice was noted to have lived with a ‘companion’ rather than spouse until her death. Alice is referred to on numerous occasions in this study. Interestingly, she was noted by Berthoud to be,

‘a pleasant looking woman with brown hair, full of enthusiasm yet gentle and generous.’

I was surprised to learn that Alice invited her students to her home and remained friends with Henry Moore until her death, decades after she had taught him at school.
 
Alice Gostick's pottery class, December 1919.
Alice seated far left. Henry Moore sitting on floor, far left.
© The Henry Moore Foundation.


Making the news


Whilst in Castleford, Alice taught school pupils and students at evening classes how to decorate pottery by hand in a style known as Peasant Pottery. Alice became synonymous with her pottery painting classes. I was pleasantly surprised to find them mentioned in local newspapers. These newspaper articles also offered some information on what Alice was doing where and when. Before she moved to Castleford, she was also part of evening art classes run by the art school she worked at in Staffordshire. The Staffordshire Sentinel (7th September 1908) published an article naming her as one of the art teachers assisting with the classes, which were a roaring success. 

I also found out that by 1921, at age 46, Alice was living with her mother, Clair, in Glasshoughton, near Castleford. Then there was a small but fantastic article from the Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer in 1930, marking Gostick’s retirement from teaching after she had worked for Castleford School for 19 years. Alice’s work was celebrated in this local newspaper, which revealed that 170 art centres across the country had taken on the idea of individually decorating pottery by hand, which she is said to have ‘initiated.’

Hand-painted dish, Clokie & Co Ltd, Castleford. Believed to have been decorated by Alice's student, Henry Moore.


Overall, it has been an exciting opportunity to research Alice, who was relatively unknown apart from her teaching of Henry Moore. Although the research generated some challenges, including the limited qualitative documentation on her life, with most information being in relation to Moore, it is thrilling when you do come across something interesting or surprising about her. She led an interesting life, fulfilling her passion for art and pottery in Castleford, where she was a favourite of many of her students.

By Katie Simpson

 

Thanks to generous donations from our amazing supporters and visitors, Wakefield Museums & Castles have been able to purchase examples of Castleford Peasant Pottery, hand decorated by Alice Gostick and her students. 


Sugar bowl and side plate, hand-painted by Alice Gostick, c. 1919

Tea set, hand-painted by Alice Gostick, c. 1918

Vase, hand-painted by Gostick's student, Albert Wainwright


Donations help us develop and care for our collections, including purchasing objects that tell the inspirational, unique stories of  the Wakefield district. Donate here to support our work. 

Friday, April 8, 2022

Knottingley: Fire & Water - David Appleyard selected as artist

We're excited to announce that we have appointed Yorkshire-based contemporary artist David Appleyard to create a public artwork for the town of Knottingley.

David Appleyard with an artwork from one of his previous projects

After a competitive process, David was chosen to create an artwork for the Knottingley: Fire & Water project. The project is funded by Arts Council England and is designed to celebrate the industrial heritage of Knottingley.

David will work closely with local residents in Knottingley to create an artwork that explores, shares and celebrates the glassmaking and shipbuilding industries in the town. The artwork will be developed over the next seven months and installed in November 2022, during Wakefield Council’s Light Up festival.

David will use the museum's collections, along with the stories and memories of local people, as the inspiration for his artwork. The final pieces will explore the theme of 'vessels', bringing together the glassmaking and shipbuilding industries. 

The launch of the "Borrowdale H" ship from Harker's shipyard in Knottingley

David Appleyard is an artist based in Sheffield, who works collaboratively with communities and local people to create artworks inspired by history and heritage. Storytelling using objects and installations is key to David’s work and he uses a variety of materials to create his artworks, which include sculpture, light and sound. 

Mark Lynam, Corporate Director Regeneration and Economic Growth for Wakefield Council, said “We are delighted to have appointed David to deliver this exciting new artwork for Knottingley. We chose David because of his track record of working closely with communities to create inspiring artworks, and we’re excited to work with David and Knottingley residents to celebrate the history and heritage of the town”.

David Appleyard said "I'm delighted to have been given such an exciting opportunity to develop creative work with people in Knottingley. The town has a fascinating heritage as a manufacturer of vessels of all shapes and sizes, from ships to glassware. I hope to use this commission as an opportunity to continue this tradition while making connections with local communities".

Final details of the artwork, including its location, are yet to be decided. To find out how to get involved in the project and help to shape the final artwork, contact Leah Mellors, Collections & Exhibitions Manager, on lmellors@wakefield.gov.uk.

Thursday, April 7, 2022

Community Consultation Freelance Opportunity


We are seeking a freelancer to help us develop a programme of community consultation activities, to support and inform a brand new museum and library in Wakefield City Centre, due to open in 2024. 

Wakefield Council are at the start of a journey to create an exciting new museum and library in the heart of Wakefield city centre, opposite Wakefield Cathedral. Featuring museum galleries, library collections, services and spaces, learning and activity spaces, events space, an interactive family gallery, and a café, the new site will provide a space in the city centre for local people to explore their heritage, learn new things, and be inspired.

The museum galleries will explore the story of the Wakefield district from prehistory to present day, through our amazing collection of over 110,000 objects. These galleries will be co-produced with local people, providing a space for them to share their own stories in their own words.

The library will provide a central point for accessing a wide range of library services, including books for loan for learning and leisure, information databases, IT facilities, Wi-Fi, space to study and work, business information, children’s library and chill out spaces.

Community participation and voices are central to our vision for the museum and library and so it is critical that we capture and act upon the ideas and feedback of our communities from the very beginning through imaginative and creative consultation.

Freelance Opportunity

We would like to appoint a freelancer to devise and develop a consultation plan, with a varied programme of consultation activities that can be delivered by our teams in community venues across the Wakefield district, helping us to reach non-users. These could be pop-up events, activities, focus group meetings, or conversations in community venues such as care homes, community centres, markets, schools, youth clubs, shopping centres and more.


We would like a series of seven activities in total: six activities aimed at six different priority demographics (one activity per demographic) and one generic drop-in activity, which can be delivered to a mixed and unspecified audience, such as people visiting a market, library or outdoor event. These activities will be delivered by our museum staff to multiple groups within that demographic. These demographics are:

• Families with children under the age of 5

• Primary Schools (pupils and teachers)

• Young people (14-25 years old)

• Polish people

• Older people (over the age of 55)

• Wakefield Council employees

The activities should be designed, planned out and communicated in a way that our staff can easily pick up and deliver to groups.

Outputs:

❖ A timed consultation plan, with details of who, when and how we will consult with our priority groups. The plan should contain detailed plans of each consultation activity (in a lesson-plan style) and the resources needed to deliver them.

❖ A method for recording the data and feedback we acquire, so that it is understandable and usable.

The fee for this work is £3500. 

Deadline for Expressions of Interest is Monday 25 April, 9am. 


For a copy of the full brief, or for more information, please contact Leah Mellors, Collections & Exhibitions Manager on lmellors@wakefield.gov.uk

Friday, March 11, 2022

Wakefield Museums & Castles shortlisted for 'museums Oscar!'

We are thrilled and proud to have been shortlisted for the Museums + Heritage Sustainable Project of the Year Award 2022, for our project, A World of Good.



Known as the ‘Oscars of the museums world’, the Museums + Heritage Awards celebrate the very best in the world of museums, galleries, cultural and heritage visitor attractions. Hundreds of entrants from around the world will battle it out to win one of seventeen prestigious awards. The Sustainable Project of the Year award is sponsored by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, and celebrates outstanding environmentally sustainable projects or exhibitions, which can demonstrate best practice in approaches to managing environmental impacts.




Wakefield Museums & Castles have been shortlisted for A World of Good, a project designed to inspire positive action on the climate crisis. At the centre of the project is the immersive, multi-sensory A World of Good exhibition at Wakefield Museum, which uses sculpture, animation and sound to bring the work of 19th-century environmentalist Charles Waterton to life. It asks visitors to sign up to an environmental manifesto and make a pledge to take real and meaningful action on the climate crisis.



Our Do A World of Good pledges are simple and practical ways you can make a difference.


Alongside the exhibition, we have produced educational resources for schools and communities, a social media campaign, and events and workshops designed to inspire and motivate you to make a change. Our team have also written an action plan to reduce the carbon footprint of our museums and castles.

“It is great to see the Museums & Castles team being acknowledged for this project, which addresses one of the most urgent contemporary issues we face. Museums play a vital role in engaging and educating people about the world around us and A World of Good is a perfect example of that.”

Councillor Michael Graham, Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure & Sport for Wakefield Council

 

The winner of the Museums + Heritage Awards will be announced at the Museums + Heritage Show on 11 May 2022.


You can visit the A World of Good exhibition at Wakefield Museum until July 2022, or find out more about the project on our A World of Good pages on this blog.

Follow @WFMuseums #AWorldOfGood and #DoAWorldOfGood on Twitter for more content and join in the conversation on the hashtags - we'd love to hear how you are Doing A World of Good in your home, garden, work or lifestyle. 

Find out more about the awards and all the amazing shortlisted projects on the Museums + Heritage Awards website.



Tuesday, November 23, 2021

We’re recruiting! Could you be our new Digital Audience Development Officer?

Are you passionate about culture and heritage?
Can you develop and deliver engaging stories using museum objects?
Would you like to create memorable digital experiences for all ages?

 
If so, then this job may be for you.



We are looking for a dynamic individual to develop, embed and expand our newly developed digital strategy and action plan within the operations of Wakefield Museums and Castles. You will be working across teams within the service. The role will see you taking the lead on implementing the strategy and action plan across the team and integrating digital into the ethos of the service.
 

We would welcome applications from people with proven experience in managing, producing, organising, delivering and evaluating digital engagement content. The role will require you to research and create new and innovative ways of increasing access, and developing engagement opportunities that showcase our sites and collections.
 



This role is essential to our vision of providing a representative, accessible and community-driven museum service, which engages and connects people of all ages with the varied and fascinating heritage of the Wakefield district.




Please see Jobs at Wakefield Council for the full job profile and person specification. 



The closing date for applications is Friday 14th January 2022.

Interviews will be held in February 2022.

Should you wish to discuss this post, please contact Louise Bragan, Senior Officer: Programming and Learning 





Friday, October 8, 2021

Our Museums Change Lives!

Wakefield Museums & Castles have been shortlisted for the Museums Association's Museums Change Lives Best Project Award 2021, for our project A World of Good.

The Museums Change Lives awards are awarded by the Museums Association, the sector body for museums in the UK, to recognise and celebrate outstanding practice by UK museums delivering social impact. They promote the best examples of work by museums and individuals that support communities and engage with contemporary issues. Previous winners of the award include National Museums Northern Ireland and the Jewish Museum London.

We have been shortlisted for the Best Project award for A World of Good, a project designed to inspire positive action on the climate crisis. At the centre of the project is the A World of Good exhibition at Wakefield Museum, which uses sculpture, animation and sound to bring the work of 19th-century environmentalist Charles Waterton to life. It asks visitors to sign up to an environmental manifesto and make a pledge to take real and meaningful action on the climate crisis.

Gallery view of A World of Good exhibition at Wakefield Museum

Alongside the exhibition, we have produced educational resources for schools and communities, a social media campaign, and events and workshops designed to inspire and motivate you to make a change. We have also written our own action plan to reduce the carbon footprint of our museums and castles.

Councillor Michael Graham, Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure & Sport for Wakefield Council, said “It is great to see the Museums & Castles team being acknowledged for this project, which addresses one of the most urgent contemporary issues we face. Museums play a vital role in engaging and educating people about the world around us and A World of Good is a perfect example of that.”

The winner of the Museums Change Lives award will be announced at the Museums Association annual conference on 8 November 2021 and we'll share the news on our Twitter account.

You can visit the A World of Good exhibition at Wakefield Museum until July 2022, or find out more about the project here

Monday, September 27, 2021

Cleaning up history

We're very lucky to have lots of brilliant volunteers help us with our projects. In this special post, Kylie tells us about her recent experience as a conservation volunteer and explores one object she found especially interesting during her time with us.


This summer preparations began for the Wakefield Museums & Castles partial store move, which meant dusting and packing objects that are not currently on display at any of the museum locations. Together as volunteers, under supervision, we were able to help review shelves of objects so that their documentation would be up to date and their condition for moving would be improved.

Objects kept at the store will typically have significance to Wakefield and the surrounding area. There were many interesting objects for us to clean. For example, typewriters could have dust settle under the keys whilst on open shelves. Using brushes, microfibre cloths, smoke sponges, or museum vacuums, they were returned to a clean state. These dry-cleaning methods will not always cause drastic changes in appearance, but it is still satisfying to know objects are cleaner and protected from damage by dust.

Some of the typewriters before we dry cleaned and repacked them.

An object of particular interest was a black case of entomology equipment, used to study insects. The donor information named Walter Fletcher as the former owner, which is corroborated by the ‘WF’ scratched into a magnifying lens in the kit. Unfortunately, not much else is recorded about him, but it is clear he had a passion for entomology and took time to curate the required supplies over a long period of time. 

Walter Fletcher's entomology kit

Inside there were 44 small empty boxes, some made of metal but most were paper. The majority also had labels for tablets from chemists. The size of these must have been perfect for storing insects. Discerning the exact date of the supplies and owner is difficult, but the labels of the various pill boxes  inside the case suggest it is from 1935-1968 due to the company name, Timothy Whites & Taylors. There are no objects made of plastic in the box, which may suggest earlier than the 1960s.  

Pill boxes from local chemists seem to have been repurposed to store insect specimens.

There were also wooden blocks with string wound around them that would have been used to hold insects in place while drying them. There were metal tools, scalpel blades and packages of pins to assist in this process. A large net that could be dissembled was also able to fit in one compartment of the case. Everything needed for this hobby or passion to be fulfilled.

There was care to detail in so much of what Fletcher kept. He had nine glass slides with different insects, each carefully labelled.


In conserving this case, all objects were removed and the interior cleaned by brushes and a museum vacuum. Some objects required wrapping in acid free tissue, which will help stop any reactions between materials. This included the metal boxes because they react to relative humidity more than other organic materials like paper. Objects that were loose, like two large feathers, were also wrapped in tissue. Other objects were put into zip sealed plastic bags. This included loose pins and other sharp hazards. The goal is that all the different parts of the kit would stay together if the case was moved and it would be unlikely for damage to occur.

There are many more interesting objects to be found in the store. Dry cleaning and improving packaging for storage is helpful so that the objects will remain conserved for study or display in the future.


Special thanks to Kylie and all our conservation volunteers for their help preparing objects for the move. To keep up to date with this project and see what other treasures we discover, follow us on social media. Look out for updates on the hashtag #WFWhatsInStore.