Amgueddfa Blog

It’s Saint Dwynwen’s Day on 25th January, the day when we celebrate love here in Wales. In case you’re separated from your loved one during this lockdown, we’re posting this recipe early so you get a chance to pop them in the post. Whatever you’re doing, we send you Covid safe cwtches from the museum.

This delicious recipe is from our catering team at National Wool Museum in Drefach Felindre.

 

Pice Bach – Welsh Cakes

 

INGREDIENTS:

1lb self-raising flour

8oz butter

6oz caster sugar

2 eggs

2 handfuls currants – or cranberries if you want to add a dash of red for St Dwynwen’s day!

extra butter for greasing

 

METHOD:

  1. Sift the flour into a bowl and add the diced butter.
  2. Rub with your fingertips, or pulse in a food processor, until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
  3. Add the sugar, currants / cranberries and beaten eggs  and mix well to form a ball of dough, using a splash of milk if needed.
  4. Roll the dough out on a floured board to a thickness of about 5mm/½in.
  5. Cut into heart shape with a 7.5–10cm/3-4in heart cutter.
  6. Rub a bakestone or heavy iron griddle with butter, wipe away the excess and place on the hob until it is heated through.
  7. Cook the Welsh cakes a few at a time for 2–3 minutes on each side, or until golden-brown.
  8. Remove from the griddle and dust with caster sugar while still warm.

Here they are, delicious, romantic Welsh Cakes!

Enjoy!!

The National Wool Museum’s Exhibition of Hope was launched in April 2020, at the beginning of the nation’s lockdown. The aim of the project is to create 20cm or 8” rainbow coloured squares in any way participants would like whether that be, knitted, felted, woven or crocheted. The squares will then be joined together by Wool Museum volunteers and created into a giant rainbow blanket which will be displayed at the National Wool Museum and then at the National Waterfront Museum, Swansea. Following the Exhibition smaller blankets will be created from the giant blanket and donated to various charities.

We would like to say a big thank you to everyone who has contributed to the project so far, the response has been fantastic, we have received over 670 squares from people up and down the country! Each square is gratefully received and thank you for your kind notes and best wishes. It is lovely to hear how many of you have found that creating the squares has helped during these unprecedented and challenging times. Although we cannot always be physically together, we are in spirit, hope and community.

Aeres Ingram is our most prolific contributor at present, having knitted 70 squares for the blanket. Speaking about the project, she said,

"knitting the squares for the rainbow blanket helped me a lot during lockdown and it gave me a sense of belonging and achievement, knowing I was involved with something important and also helping those in need. I look forward to seeing the pieces sewn together and the finished piece."

The Exhibition of Hope was featured in Adult Learners’ Week and two videos were released of Craftsperson Non Mitchell giving a demonstration on how to create a felted and woven square, so if you've yet to make a square, but would like to, please take a look below.


  

Crisis charity (South Wales), which supports homeless people, shared the Exhibition of Hope information on their Facebook pages and created physical packs including wool and instructions to send to services users to support them to take part.

The squares have been created so beautifully in various, colours, styles, stitches, and designs. Here are few which have been made and the stories behind them…

A rainbow coloured knitted square made with wool coloured with natural dyes.

This square has been made by Garden Volunteer, Susan Martin. Susan created the natural dyed yarn which she spun herself. The rainbow colours are from woad, weld and madder blended with white to give a lighter and tweedy effect, all these plants can be found in the National Wool Museum’s Dye Garden. The Natural Dye Garden was recently awarded the prestigious Green Flag Community Award which is fantastic news! For more information, please click here.

A knitted rainbow square for the blanket of hope

Craft Volunteer Cristina created this square using the first yarn made by Museum Assistant, Stephen Williams and Trainee Craftspersons Richard Collins and James Whittall when they were learning to spin. Visitors also contributed to the creation of the yarn, including a lady who had not spun for twenty years, a profoundly deaf child as well as a staff member’s mother.

 

A knitted square with the National Waterfront Logo on it, for our blanket of hope

This beautiful square complete with the National Waterfront Museum logo was created by National Waterfront Museum Gallery Assistant, Ruth Melton.

We look forward to welcoming the Craft Volunteers back to the Museum at some point this year and then work can begin on creating the blanket. Keep an eye out on our website link and social media pages to find out the latest information.

Thank you to The Ashley Family Foundation and Community Foundation Wales for support with this project.

The current closing date for contributions is 31/03/2021. Please click here for more information on how to get involved.

Thanks again for all your support.

 

Shw'mae! I’m Rachael, one of the graphic designers here at Amgueddfa Cymru.

Branding an event or exhibition is one of my favourite parts of my role across our museums. The project team often meet and throw ideas around, seeking sources of inspiration from our collections and the public connections people have with whatever exhibition or event we’re preparing.

We knew that Burton was going to mean a lot to visitors, but how to approach it was an important focus for this project. There are plenty of people who know who Burton is, but an early exit from Hollywood meant that he didn’t get his “final act”. As such, a whole generation missed out on seeing him act through his twilight years, and we found that Burton is an unknown name in young audiences in particular.

We experimented with a 1960s mid-century feel at first, playing with Burton’s profile in a traditional theatre style. Because of his changing life, we found that while some people recognised the illustration instantly, others didn’t see “their” Burton. 

Taking those bright colours on black we began to try adding photographs from Burton’s life, giving a representation of the Burton who people knew, and who they would get to know in the course of the exhibition. However, our leading man needed a larger centre stage and we went back to our original favourite images to find a strong image which represented the iconic years.

Our final option, against the poster you are now familiar with, was a later-in-life image of Burton, shot by the photographer Douglas Kirkland. This was a personal favourite, but rather than remembering Burton for the tabloid headlines view of an aged, world-weary actor we wanted to show Burton as that and more, the family man, the Welshman, the author. 

A final addition of the red, to symbolise the Hollywood red carpet and Burton’s Welsh roots, made the poster complete.

The Becoming Richard Burton exhibition opened in November, but the exhibition and the museum have been closed due to government guidelines regarding the COVID-19 pandemic since December. We hope that the museum and the exhibition will reopen to visitors again soon. In the meantime, visitors can see some of the photos and personal papers from the exhibition on the Becoming Richard Burton digital platform. Visit the platform now.

When a UK-wide lockdown came was announced on 23 March of this year, we were in the final stages of delivering Becoming Richard Burton, the first major exhibition anywhere, about one of Wales’ most iconic names and faces.

The exhibition was due to open on 4 April after nearly four years of planning, but with ten working days left until opening, the Museum was closed to the public, the staff sent home and the exhibition mothballed until it was safe to reopen.

With its origins in a partnership between ACNMW and Swansea University, where the Richard Burton Archives are held, the original scope of the exhibition sought to bring together as much material from around the world as could be gathered, to tell the story of Burton’s fame, wealth, success, decline and legacy.

It quickly became apparent that the objects, images, and media associated with Richard Burton, are still a lucrative source of income for those people and organisations in possession of the collections, copyright, and licenses for that material.

Very quickly, costs escalated beyond what was feasible or achievable to deliver, which required a revision of the agreed approach and for us to ask ourselves, what story can we tell about Richard Burton at ACNMW that hasn’t been told before?

Following some evaluation testing with target audiences, it also became apparent that Burton was almost an unknown to younger people born after his death at 59, in 1984.

Despite having been the most famous and photographed man in the world at the height of his fame, his death at a young age meant denied him the opportunity of a third act to his career, as an older actor.

There were no Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter or Marvel superhero films to provide the later life profile afforded to Burton’s contemporaries, such as Richard Harris, Robert Hardy, Alec Guinness, and Christopher Lee.

Presented with this revelation, we set ourselves the challenge of ‘rebooting’ Burton’s legacy for a 21st-century audience, whilst also serving an older audience already familiar with him, by providing new insights into the life of the man behind the well-known myths.

Focusing the story in this way became the key that unlocked the puzzle for ACNMW Curators, as they researched the contents of the Richard Burton Archives and found the less well-known father, son, brother, friend, writer, reader, and fiercely proud Welshman.

The contents of the archive are largely two-dimensional paper objects, which brought another set of challenges in designing an engaging, three-dimensional exhibition experience, leading to a decision early on in the process, to secure a selection of targeted supporting loans that would add texture and depth to the exhibition.

Likewise, as the costs associated with licensing film clips and photography presented such a practical obstacle, we took a strategic approach to identify those that would serve our story best.

Thanks to further partnerships in Wales with BBC Wales, ITV Wales, National Library Wales, Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, West Glamorgan Archives, and the Dylan Thomas Centre, we were able to assemble a list of loans that would enhance the archive contents, at a fraction of anticipated costs, to support the personal narrative we were developing.

Additional loans were secured from the Royal Shakespeare Company, Bristol Theatre Museum, and Costume d’Arti in Rome, which following a few nervous weeks of frantic logistics, arrived on-site just as Europe began to lockdown in early March.

By the end of February, we were feeling confident we had everything in place to deliver the exhibition we had envisaged, despite the challenges encountered, but nobody expected what would happen before the end of March, when the Museum closed and we were all asked to stay at home.

When the dust had begun to settle and we’d all begun to adjust to working from home, our thoughts turned to how we might need to adapt the exhibition experience within the context of COVID-19, as it has been designed in a pre-social distancing world.

Following the lead set by other public spaces, our first step was to embrace a one-way system through the exhibition galleries.

Fortunately, the one-way system was largely consistent with the biographical narrative of the exhibition, which we co to reinforce at a few points with brass barriers and velvet rope, just like the type you might see at a cinema or theatre premiere.

We had to upgrade the specification of our graphic panels to be laminated with an anti-bacterial sealant, as this allows the panels to be cleaned with anti-viricidal chemicals without causing damage.

A planned cinema-space had to be revised and opened out, with seating removed, to allow visitors to watch archive interviews if Burton on Welsh television whilst maintaining social distancing.

Interactivity was the most significant casualty of the planned experience, as we had to remove any push buttons, touchscreen displays, or headphones, and ACNMW Digital and Technical teams were tasked with re-designing audio playback in the gallery, as synchronised, passive experiences.

On reflection, revising the exhibition design allowed us to enhance the overall experience and the challenges we were presented with became an opportunity to improve upon the original design.

We decided to open a new exhibition during a pandemic for the same reason we continue to keep our Museums open; the importance of maintaining free access to the nation’s culture and heritage, in support of good mental health and well-being for all.

Exhibitions are complicated projects that draw teams of staff from across the organisation and take a great of time and planning to deliver.

To come so close to opening, just before the first national lockdown, we were all disappointed to think the exhibition would never open.

Thanks to the hard work and commitment of the Museum staff and partners, we have adapted the exhibition and are delighted it will now be open to the public.

Unfortunately, at the time of writing the Museum is closed to the public again, in line with Wales Government restrictions, but will hopefully re-open again soon, when it is safe to do so.

The cycle of opening/closing at short notice will inevitably reduce the number of people who will get to visit the exhibition compared to pre-COVID times, but we are certain it will be greatly enjoyed by those visitors that manage to see it.

Whilst Museum opening continues to remain uncertain, we have developed a digital Becoming Richard Burton exhibition, which will be launched on 15 December, to provide an online platform for the exhibition content.

The digital exhibition will not seek to replicate the experience of visiting the physical gallery, as there is no substitute for engaging with real objects.

Instead, we are adapting the exhibition content as an interactive experience online, where users can engage with the Richard Burton story, as a complement to the physical exhibition. You can visit the digital exhibition now.

The exhibition will also include several fun games and creative interactives that users will be able to share across social media platforms, such as Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook.

Not only will the digital exhibition provide support while the Museum is closed due to COVID, but it will also provide access to the Museum for users around the world, remaining online beyond the life of the physical exhibition as a research resource.

The journey over the last four years from inception to opening Becoming Richard Burton has become an epic worthy of the man who played both Alexander the Great and Mark Antony, a labour of love for all the staff and partners who have contributed, which we are all so proud to share with our visitors in Wales and online across the world

Hi Bulb Buddies,

Thank you for all of your hard work collecting weather data over the last few weeks. The next week for weather records will be 4-8 January. When entering data to the website please enter 'no record' for the dates that you weren't in school to take readings.

There's no need to take your pots home with you over Christmas. So long as they are in a safe place in the school yard where they are unlikely to get blown over by the wind, they will be fine. The bulbs are insulated by the soil and can withstand the winter weather.

The weather has been mild in many places again this autumn/ winter, and it will be interesting to see how this effects our plants.

Have a lovely break Bulb Buddies.

Happy Christmas and a Merry New Year from

Professor Plant & Baby Bulb