Amgueddfa Cymru — National Museum Wales

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In the summer of 1951, a large-scale quilting exhibition was staged at St Fagans as part of Wales’ contribution to the Festival of Britain. Billed as ‘the largest, most comprehensive and the most interesting of its kind ever staged in the Principality’, the exhibition organised jointly with the Monmouthshire Rural Community Council showcased the work of 60 contemporary quilters, alongside historic examples from the Museum’s collection and private owners. The Banqueting Hall – a vast pavilion-like structure in the grounds of St Fagans Castle – provided a dramatic setting for the display, the likes of which had not been seen at the newly-established Museum before.

Call for entries

Although the exhibition ran for little over three weeks (16 July – 18 August), it was the culmination of months of planning, led by Mr D. L. Jones of the Welsh Rural Industries Committee. In keeping with the Museum’s founding principle of inspiring a new generation of makers, the show included daily demonstrations and prizes for the best contemporary work on display. In February of that year, a final call for entries was published in the Western Mail:

Although we have received a record entry for the National Quilting Exhibition… it is not too late to receive further entries… Substantial prizes and certificates of merit will be awarded to successful candidates, and it will undoubtedly provide an excellent opportunity for Welsh quilters to show our oversees visitors that they still possess the skill of their forebears in this one remaining traditional needlecraft.

Competition

The work submitted for the exhibition included large and small quilts, cot covers, bonnets, dressing gowns and dressing jackets. In total, 65 original, hand-quilted pieces were chosen for display by the selectors. The judging panel included Mavis FitzRandolph who, under the auspices of the Rural Industries Bureau, had been instrumental in setting-up quilting classes in the industrial heartlands of south-east Wales during the 1920-30s Depression. The aim of the scheme was to revive and improve the standard of Welsh quilting, therefore enabling young women in economically deprived communities to earn a living making by hand. Many of those who won prizes at the 1951 exhibition were taught to quilt under this scheme, including Irene Morgan of Porthcawl - one of the best quilters of her generation. Originally from Aberdare, Irene began to quilt in the late 1920s and subsequently became a nightclass teacher in the Bridgend area, until the onset of glaucoma stopped her from stitching in the 1960s. Her prize winning certificates from the 1951 exhibition were donated to the Museum following her death in 2000.

The future - Gweithdy

Emulating the spirit of the 1951 exhibition, exciting plans are afoot here at St Fagans. A new gallery called Gweithdy is currently being built in the Museum's grounds which will be a celebration of making by hand in Wales through the centuries. As well as having objects on display including several quilts and other textile crafts the new gallery will be designed very much like a workshop, with spaces for people to have-a-go at making, and to enroll on craft courses. Needless to say, we are all hugely excited about this development – a new chapter in our history as a Museum which, we hope, will inspire the makers of the future.

 

 

 

 

I’m finding it hard to believe that the St Fagans Food Festival will be soon upon us – where has the year gone? Last year, we asked you to tweet your favourite family recipes to us. We had an amazing response, thanks again to all who took part, enabling us to create a lovely exhibition at Oakdale Workmen’s Institute over the Festival weekend.

As part of this year’s Festival, we’re launching a digital version of Welsh Fare, a collection of traditional recipes collected by Minwel Tibbott. When she started at the Museum in 1969, the study of traditional foods was a very new research field. She realised very early on that the information would not be found in books and she travelled all over Wales in order to interview, record and film the older generation of women. They recalled the dishes prepared by their mothers, and their memories harked back to the end of the 1880s.

With the digital version, not only can you read the recipes, but also hear the women explain the processes and see them prepare the dishes. We’re also keen to add to this collection, and as the Great British Bake Off fever grabs us once again, we’re asking you to share with us your favourite family recipes. We’d also like to add to our images of people feasting - people enjoying your showstoppers, a family celebration or a gathering of friends.

Tweet recipes, images and information to @archifSFarchive or post them on the St Fagans Facebook page using the hashtag #Ryseitiau #FoodFestival. Another option is to bring them along to Oakdale Workmen’s Institute during the Food Festival and we’ll scan them. All the recipes and photos, as well as last year’s collection will be uploaded on to the People’s Collection Wales.

For the latest on this project, follow tweets by @archifSFarchive and @SF_Ystafelloedd and the hashtags #Ryseitiau #Food Festival #WelshFare #AmserBwyd.

Since the last post the local families coming to the Museum from Ely and Caerau have been enjoying taking part in a variety of exciting sessions, including:

  • Experiencing what it was like to go to school in Victoria Wales.
  • Learning to handle a newt found during pond dipping in the Tannery ponds.
  • Making clay coil pots to take home

So far 102 people have taken part in this programme of activities at St Fagans and the feedback from everyone has been overwhelmingly positive.

“I enjoyed the experience of going to a Victoria school because I learnt new things and how they learnt back then.”

“I had a good time holding a newt and looking at all the pond bugs.”

“Brill, we had lots of fun, will be coming back!”

“I liked pottery because you can get messy and it is crafty.”

“Calming session.”

The children are learning a lot, so are the parents, and so are we. We’re finding out just how much families love to learn together and the families are discovering all that the Museum has to offer them. Many of these families had not visited St Fagans until coming along to one of these sessions, and now they are thinking of coming back again. This is why we value our partnership with ACE Action Ely Caerau so much, as they are able to help us to meet and work with these lovely groups to show them just how relevant the Museum on their door step can be to their lives.

With one more week to go we are looking forward to welcoming more families to Bryn Eryr, the Iron Aged farmstead, to help us with an authentic Iron Age smelt, and a very enthusiastic group who will be coming in to take part in a traditional weaving workshop.

Keep following this blog for more updates.

If you are interested in taking part in fun family activities and events at St Fagans over the summer there are lots of opportunities to get involved, just check our What’s On for more information.

This week we welcomed the lovely Croeso Club from Caerphilly to St Fagans. They are an informal community group set up by a local resident, Sandra Hardacre, almost ten years ago. The group aims to support community members to learn new skills, be sociable with others and go on new adventures.

Over the last 6 weeks they have been working with Groundwork Cymru to help to pilot a new project called Go Green 4 Health, which is all about inspiring, supporting and encouraging individuals to use the outdoors to be more active. Each session focuses on a different aspect of using the outdoors for activity, such as ‘the benefits to being outdoors’, ‘overcoming barriers’ and ‘’staying safe’.

For their last walk the group members had asked if they could come to St Fagans, so Flik Walls, project coorindator, got in touch with us at the Museum and we set it up.

We planned a 30 minute walk, taking in some of the key buildings at St Fagans such as Nant Wallter Cottage, Rhyd-y-Car Terrace Houses and the Oakdale Workmen's Institute, of which some of the ladies had very fond memories.

We also made sure there was plenty of time to stop for a coffee and piece of cake on our way around. This was a perfect chance for the ladies to talk about their experiences of being part of the Go Green 4 Health project and share their thoughts and feedback with myself, the Groundwork Team and the project evaluator Katy Marrin. It was also a lovely opportunity for the group to share poems some of them had written about their journey together. Here's a lovely poem written by Lyn:

Go Green 4 Health Poem

Two lovely people came to coax us all to walk,

To ramble and enjoy ourselves and also have a talk.

 

We played walking bingo, I’m sure it was a fix,

Next we all said poems that was a real mix.

 

A lovely trip to Trelewis Park, fresh air and loads of rests,

Caerphilly Castle we went next, soaked through right to our vests.

 

And what about walking football that we were meant to play,

They said there was some cheating, ‘we were robbed’ I heard them say.

 

The last walk sadly to St Fagan’s, a fab day out for all,

So now the Croeso Club love walking, they’ve really had a ball.

 

We are really looking forward to developing a link with Groundwork Cymru so we can continue to work together on similar projects in the future. Follow this blog for updates and to find out how it's all going.

 

In September 2016 Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales will again be participating in Open Doors, an event organised by Cadw (the Welsh Government’s historic environment service). The idea behind the event is to offer people the opportunity to visit a variety of sites important to the culture and history of Wales. The highlight of the event is the opportunity to visit places that are not normally, or are infrequently, open to the public.

The National Collections Centre, Nantgarw, is part of Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales, and houses thousands of interesting and important objects that are not on display. Although not normally open to the general public we have always offered access to researchers, and also to various groups and societies. Staff at the National Collections Centre have always seen the importance of opening up the site to allow visitors access to view some of these objects and to see the work that is carried out by staff on site.

We are always looking for new ways to get visitors on site, to encourage people to learn about what we do, and provide more access to the collections in store. Therefore we have decided to repeat last year’s success and get involved in Open Doors again. This year we will be open on two days as part of Open Doors, on Wednesday 7th September and Thursday 29th September 2016. There will be five tours on each day at 10.00, 11.00, 12.00, 2.00 and 3.00. Each tour will last about 45 minutes and visitors will be able to take a closer look at some of the collections held on site, and find out about the work of staff based here.

Booking is essential for these tours. Please ring us on 029 2057 3560 or 029 2057 3583 to book a place, or find out further information. You can also email us on industry@museumwales.ac.uk

Further details can be found on the Cadw website, as well as details of all other places open as part of Open Doors.

We hope as many people as possible will be able to enjoy the tours and be able to see some of the amazing objects preserved by Amgueddfa Cymru for the people of Wales.