A second Access Assistant joins the Museum team!

Hello, my name is Rowena and I am the second Museum Access Assistant to join the team, working alongside Claire.
I am thrilled to be working at Nuneaton Museum and Art Gallery as I have been coming here as a visitor since I was a child. History has always been an interest of mine from a very early age.
I feel that  objects can tell amazing stories, so it’s no surprise that I really enjoy the Hands on History events. It’s very exciting  to be able to research the Museum’s collections and tell those stories to our visitors.
Our special family Event Days are also lots of fun and both Claire and I will be working on those with some great Make ‘n’ Takes planned for our younger visitors!
I do hope to meet you during the course of the year so if you see me in one of the Museum galleries don’t be afraid to pop over and say hello!Rowena

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Arc School Workshop

Last week I had the pleasure of meeting and working with Shannon, Lewis, Evan, Jamey and Callum – Year 8 and 10 students from Arc School Church End in Ansley, Warwickshire. Visiting their school to introduce myself and my work as an Illustrator was a brilliant experience.

They definitely gave me a different perspective on the Inuit collection the next day when they came to the museum. Whilst we looked at and handled some of the objects, the group asked questions that everyone would want to know, and that confirmed to me how much I’ve learned in the last few months – because I could answer most of their questions.

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‘What did they do if there were no shops around to buy things? And if I lived there what would I do?’

‘How did they get medicine when someone in their family was sick?’

‘Where is Baffin Island’?

‘Did they play football?’ (The answer is yes, of course – we even have evidence!)

The group got a peek into the collection stores at the museum to learn about the museum’s work behind the scenes – something I really enjoy the opportunity to do myself!

Afterwards the students helped to embellish one of my final illustrations, by producing their own print design based on what inspired them about life on Baffin Island. Here are some images from the workshop, but you can see the final designs in the exhibition ‘The Land That Faces Away From The Sun: Changing Lives on Baffin Island’ which opens tomorrow at Nuneaton Museum & Art Gallery.

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A very special ‘thank you’ goes out to Jane Sperring, the students’ teacher at Arc; Robin Johnson, Arc’s Cultural Curator (both supported the session so brilliantly) and Matthew Johnson, Outreach Officer at Nuneaton Museum who led the fascinating ‘behind the scenes’ tour at the museum.

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Finding out about Inuits aside from looking at my illustrations!

There is now less than a week to go before the exhibition ‘The Land That Faces Away From The Sun: Changing Lives on Baffin Island‘ opens.

The title of the exhibition is a rough translation of the place where the museum’s Inuit collection comes from – Baffin Island.

I’m looking forward to seeing what people think to my work and if they will be as interested as I am in the objects I chose to display. I’m also very pleased that the exhibition team and volunteers have worked so hard to help me make this interesting for everyone – including working out how to show this fantastic film about Arthur Canon Turner’s life on Baffin Island in moving image:

The DVD cover of a film about everyday life on Baffin Island - to be shown in the exhibition.

The DVD cover of a film about everyday life on Baffin Island – to be shown in the exhibition.

The film has everything from football frenzy in the snow to husky dogs in it!

Not only is there a feast for the eyes in the exhibition, the team and I have also organised for some games, tactile materials to touch and specially made aroma boxes for visitors to really experience life in Baffinland – we hope to see you there!

‘The Land That Faces Away From The Sun: Changing Lives on Baffin Island’ opens from Saturday 7th February at Nuneaton Museum & Art Gallery. Find out about the exhibition and related museum events here.

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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

Arthur

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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