Meet a new member of the team!

Hello! My name is Claire and I am one of the new Museum Access Assistants appointed by the Museum & Art Gallery.  I have always had an interest in objects from the past and love revealing the stories about the more unusual items in the collection. This role has exceeded my expectations by combining my passion for history and life long learning. The make and take sessions on event days allow me to get creative with our younger visitors. Our handling sessions let me share my knowledge of the collection with the public and let them get hands on with the objects.

Every day I learn something new and it’s wonderful to be part of such a lovely team. I’m very much looking forward to meeting you on our weekend event days!  However I’m not always dressed as a knight!Claire

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Stone people and animals

Alongside the personal stories I’ve found in the Inuit collection at the museum was information on hunting techniques used by Inuit people. One intriguing to me was the use of a pile of rocks – or ‘Inukshuks’. Built by men in almost totem pole style to imitate figures, the ‘Inuksuit’ (name given for the plural) were used as points of reference to other people in the community – to point out the safest travel path, a danger ahead, a memorial of a loved one or as a successful hunting / fishing areas, or the opposite as a decoy tactics for trapping Caribou and hunting them down. I would be undoubtedly be confused to understand which meant what!

Watercolour and ink illustration of an inukshuk

Illustrated inukshuk

I’ve also been drawing a few animals to help me get inspired about what an Inuit community might encounter regularly, and that I’m pretty sure local people in Nuneaton and Warwickshire would not have seen as they walked to work or school! You can see some of my animal illustrations on my blog. And here’s another small illustration of Baffin Island ready for all you visitors! I’ve provided this to the museum’s Graphic Design team. They will turn this into an activity sheet so that you can tell us what you think life will be like to live on Baffin Island:

Line illustration of Baffin Island in blue ink

Line illustration of Baffin Island in blue ink.

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Its time for mince pie tasting!

Mince pies

Each year a few of us in the office try to find the best mince pie to be bought in Nuneaton.  This year is no exception.  Mince pies have a long history and once would have included meat as well as the dried fruit we are familiar with today.  Their ingredients meant for many years they would have only been eaten by the rich.

I thought it would be fun to share a recipe from our Cookbook from 1782 which includes the use of meat in the mince pie.  The recipe mentions the use of a “neat’s tongue” and I would be interested to know whether any of our readers know what this would have been?

A Mince Pye

Boil a neat’s tongue two hours, then skin it, and chop it as small as possible, chop very small three pounds of fresh beef suet, three pounds of good baking apples, four pounds of currants clean washed, picked, and well dried before the fire, one pound of raisins stoned and chopped small, and one pound of powder sugar, mix them all together with half an ounce of mace, the same of nutmeg grated, cloves and cinnamon a quarter of an ounce of each, and one pint of French brandy, and make a rich puff paste (pastry) ; as you fill the pye up, put in a little candied citron and orange cut in little pieces, what you have to spare, put close down in a pot and cover it up, put no citron or orange in till you use it.

The book doesn’t include the recipe for rich puff paste so instead I am including one which the writer Elizabeth Raffald advises for dish pies.

To make a cold Paste For Dish Pies.

Take a pound of fine flour, rub it into half a pound of butter, beat the yolks of two eggs, put them into as much water as will make it a stiff paste, roll it out, then put your butter on in thin pieces, dust it with flour, roll it up tight, when you have done it so for three times, roll it out pretty thin, and bake it in a quick oven.

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First World War Remembered

Although we are a museum not an archive we do hold some personal letters.  It seemed appropriate to share in this month of remembrance this letter from Arthur Moreton.  Arthur was writing home on November 12th 1914 from his training camp prior to shipping over to France.  This is what he wrote,

Nov 12th 1914


Dear Mother

Thanks very much for letters and cakes which Elsie packed well, not any broken, J Tooth and myself did enjoy them. Have seen Reg Smith several times, he looks a lot better than when at Nuneaton.

Thank Ray Wain very much for cigarettes and I hope he is keeping well and also Mrs Wain, should like to see him before we leave for France.  Have been drawing at the Orderly Room the last day or two of all the trenches round for Major Hill.  We were firing Monday and Tuesday. I made a good score, 20 out of 25 at 100 yards; 18 out of 20 at 300, 24 out of 30 at 300 yards. Not bad. I believe we start shooting tomorrow for an extra 3 a day, which I get now, but without I get 95 out of 120, it will be stopped. I am rather afraid it will be as well, for its shooting to get it. 

I tried to get this week, but it did not come off, might get next week, and I believe we shall have 2 days at the beginning of next month before we start for France across the fish pond. We will sing when we get there ‘We’ll make the Germans run,’ – but they might make us, they are pretty strong along this Front. 

Have had a bad eye, have bathed it several times and its nearly right now. You might send a woollen cardigan, my waistcoat has nearly done its bit, and it is getting cold now.


Hope you are all quite well


Your loving son


Hope I shall be able to get for I should like to see the pigs before they are sold. What do you think they weigh now (18 stone)?

 Remember me to (unreadable) and all and Mr Somers


Am going on alright


We believe that Arthur survived the war going on to be an architect.




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An Inuit diet is not for me, but maybe Heston has the right idea!

Whilst developing compositions for my final illustrations, I’m still reading up on the way of life in Inuit communities.

One of the things I find most enjoyable to do with friends and family is to cook and eat. However somehow, after reading these recipes found in articles from the museum collection, I don’t think I would feel the same way living as an Inuit person from Pond Inlet:

Inuit Recipes

Traditional recipes for dips made from hunted animals.

Ingredients for the above recipes range from whale, to melted fat and intestines, to drops of animal blood. The idea of Udjuk (Square Flipper Seal) for my dinner or Uncle Annowalk’s Nirukkaq dip starter (made from the contents of a caribou stomach) sounds revolting to me!

However, I am utterly impressed. These recipes show yet another way in which Inuit people tried not to waste any part of the animal once hunted down. Something done a lot and taken for granted in the food industries today.

Perhaps we should be getting more like Heston Blumenthal with our recipe creations but by adopting resourcefulness to our culinary inventions!

Spoon used for cooking made of animal bone.

Spoon used for cooking made of animal bone.

Maybe in a few generations ahead we will be seeing Inuit cuisine restaurants as all the rage – what do you think?

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Can anyone translate these Inuit Words?Inuit

Please help! We have finalised which objects to display alongside my illustrations for the forthcoming exhibition next February at the museum. All except for this last item – a handbag beautifully embroidered with beads into Inuit words. Both I and the museum team do not know what it reads – can you read Inuktittut (the Inuit language of Baffin Island)?

Inuit Handbag

Please get in touch if you know or know where I should ask?

Thank you all.

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Get Hands On with History this Saturday!

This month’s Hands On History session casts an artistic eye over the collection, examining different types of art and artistic techniques from around the world.

All of the objects represent some of the depth and diversity of the collections, from Chinese papers dolls to a Tibetan statuette. However it was an artefact a bit closer to home that really caught my attention! I discovered a hand embroidered map, created to celebrate the Festival of Britain in 1951. This colourful and humorous piece of art features images of William Shakespeare, a London Beefeater, a Welsh harpist and a Scottish piper amongst others.

Why not pop along on Saturday 18 October between 11am to 4pm to see if you agree!Hands On History 1

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