Amgueddfa Blog: Collections & Research

Hi, I’m Thea, a sixth form student from Shropshire who decided to create this short video as part of my work experience at the National Museum Cardiff.

I had heard about Who Decides? before I became involved in the exhibition, so I was very eager to find out more. After working with the public opinion cards, speaking to the people involved in the museum and doing some short interviews, I created an animation that I thought would best reflect the aims of exhibition and the feedback it had received.

I am passionate about art and against the idea that art and museums are ‘elitist’ or should be for the ‘privileged’ rather than the majority, so I wanted to focus on this issue in the video.

Working with the Wallich

The exhibition itself was incredibly eye opening for me; the museum had decided to work with the charity The Wallich to involve people with experience of homlessness in the process of designing and creating the exhibit and gives the public the chance to choose some of the artwork on display. I haven't seen an exhibition that has ever taken this kind of approach, so I found it intriguing to see how others reacted to the idea.

I hope this refreshing approach to curation will be an archetype for future exhibits and museums because it challenges what we usually connote with galleries and exhibits and hopefully encourages more people to visit exhibitions and museums.

Who Decides? is on show at National Museum Cardiff until 2 September 2018. You can also contribute to Who Decides? by voting for your favourite work to be ‘released’ from the store and placed on public display.

The Cardiff 2018 National Eisteddfod Chair is sponsored by Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales to the celebrate 70th birthday of St Fagans National Museum of History.

St Fagans has championed crafts in Wales since it opened in 1948, and sponsoring the chair for the National Eisteddfod in 2018 is a fitting celebration, which continues the Museum’s tradition of supporting Welsh craft and makers.

Chris Williams had the honour of designing and making the 2018 Chair. He lives in Pentre and has a workshop and gallery in Ynyshir, Rhondda - he works as a sculptor and is a member of the Royal British Society of Sculptors.

Elements of the chair were made at St Fagans National History Museum in a purpose built building, Gweithdy. This is a brand new sustainable building celebrating the skills of makers past and present - where visitors of all ages can experience traditional craft skills first-hand.

At Gweithdy, Chris demonstrated and shared the process of making the chair with visitors – a first in the history of making the National Eisteddfod chair.

Swipe, or tap the circles below as Chris explains the process of making the iconic Eisteddfod chair:

  • From the Hearth to the Stage

    The 2018 Eisteddfod Chair, through the eyes of its maker

  • The Inspiration

    The 2018 Eisteddfod Chair is inspired by Welsh stick chairs like this one, pictured at Cilewent Farmhouse at St Fagans.

  • Celebrating Welsh Makers

    This Welsh carthen, or blanket, was chosen for its beautiful repeating pattern - becoming the main motif for the chair

  • The rough materials - elm and ash - arriving at the workshop in Pentre

  • I designed the chair in Rhino 3D, so I could have an accurate model. This enabled me to take dimensions, to create jigs and templates for shaping the arms, spindles and legs

  • The seat and back are made from the same elm tree. Sanding the wood reveals the grain, and reveals any defects in the timber that need to be sanded away

  • I shaped the seat with a scorp and cabinet scraper at Gweithdy workshop at St Fagans. It was nice to share this experience of making the chair with the public

  • The seat and back were then engraved using a Co2 laser engraver - thank you to Caerphilly council for letting me use the engraver! The elaborate pattern was inspired by a blanket woven at Esgair Moel woollen mill in the 1960s. The mill (and the blanket) is now at St Fagans museum.

  • The clamping operation was complex and required a number of sash clamps to control the pressure

  • The text on the arms was also engraved with the laser engraver. This was done on a flat piece of ash which was laminated to the curved arms with many, many G clamps

  • Gluing the legs into place

  • Getting closer... The back is mortised into the seat

  • The arms are cut around the back to create a unique join, and glued into place. Then, the spindles are fitted with wedges, to be cleaned when the glue has dried

  • And here's the finished article - the 2018 Eisteddfod chair. Good luck to all the competitors!

Sut beth oedd Cymraeg Caerdydd yn y gorffennol? Dylan Foster Evans sy'n trafod lleisiau coll ein prifddinas:

 

Wrth bori mewn papurau newydd o ddiwedd y bedwaredd ganrif ar bymtheg, fe welwch fod trafod o dro i dro ar ddiflaniad Cymry Cymraeg ‘brodorol’ Caerdydd.

Roedd gan y dref yr adeg honno ei ffurf ei hun ar y Wenhwyseg, y dafodiaith leol draddodiadol. Ond er bod niferoedd siaradwyr Cymraeg Caerdydd ar gynnydd, llai a llai a siaradai hen dafodiaith Gymraeg Caerdydd. Mae’n destun rhyfeddod, felly, ein bod ni heddiw yn gallu gwrando ar leisiau’r to olaf o unigolion a fagwyd yn siarad y Wenhwyseg leol yn y Gaerdydd bresennol neu’n agos iawn ati.

 

Mae gwrando arnynt yn brofiad sy’n gofyn am ychydig o ymdrech ar ein rhan. Ar adegau, waeth cyfaddef ddim, mae rhyw afrwyddineb yn nodweddu geiriau rhai o’r siaradwyr olaf hyn. Nid niwsans mo hynny, chwaith, ond rhywbeth sy’n gwbl, gwbl greiddiol i’r profiad. Hen bobl yw’r rhain ac mae olion y degawdau i’w clywed ar eu lleisiau.

Ac yn achos sawl un, nhw yw siaradwyr Cymraeg olaf y llinach. Mae eu perthynas â’r iaith wedi breuo o flwyddyn i flwyddyn ac o ddegawd i ddegawd.

Ond yn yr afrwyddineb hwnnw — ac yn wir yn eu Saesneg — y daw eu profiadau’n fyw.

Dyna lle clywn ôl addysg a anwybyddai’r Gymraeg; dyna lle clywn effaith diffyg trosglwyddo rhwng cenedlaethau; a dyna lle’r ymdeimlwn â realiti shifft ieithyddol. Ond er gwaethaf hynny oll, mae yma wir brydferthwch.

 

Enwau'r ddinas - o Blwyf Mair i Lanetarn

Y cynharaf ohonynt yw Edward Watts (1840–1935) o Landdunwyd ym Mro Morgannwg. Fe’i recordiwyd pan oedd yn hynafgwr dros ei ddeg a phedwar ugain.

Cofiai ymweld â Chaerdydd tua chanol y bedwaredd ganrif ar bymtheg ac wrth sôn am safle hen neuadd y dref yn ‘Plwyf Mair’ mae’n cofnodi elfen o ddaearyddiaeth Gymraeg Caerdydd sydd bellach wedi ei cholli.   

A dyna chi Tom Lewis y ‘trychwr’ o ‘Rwbina’ (nid ‘o Riwbeina’ fel y dywedai llawer ohonom heddiw).

A’r Husbands — cynnyrch cymuned amaethyddol Llanishan, Llys-fæ̂n a Llanetarn, chwedl hwythau (ond Llanisien, Llys-faen a Llanedern i ni, debyg iawn).

Caerdydd wahanol iawn oedd Caerdydd llawer o’r lleisiau hyn. Ond hebddyn nhw a’u tebyg, gwahanol iawn fyddai ein Caerdydd ninnau.

 

 

Gyda diolch i Beth Thomas, Meinwen Ruddock-Jones a Pascal Lafargue. Am ragor o hanes y Gymraeg yng Nghaerdydd, dilynwch @CymraegCaerdydd a @diferionDFE - ac am ragor o Archif Sain Ffagan, dilynwch @ArchifSFArchive

Bydd arddangosfa o hanes Trebiwt, y Bae a Chaerdydd i'w gweld yn Y Lle Hanes trwy gydol yr Eisteddfod.

The Museums Association Conference of 1948 was held at National Museum Cardiff over five days, running from July 12th to the 16th. All conference meetings were held in the Reardon Smith Lecture Theatre, while an area within the Zoology Department was used as Association Office, Writing Room and Smoke Room.

We know the majority of host duties would have been carried out by Frederick J. North, who was Keeper of Geology and Archibald H. Lee, Museum Secretary, because they are listed on the programme as Honorary Local Secretaries. It is most likely we have them to thank for the ephemera held in the Library, including copies of the programme, associate and staff badges, reception invites, day trip tickets and the official group photograph, taken on the steps of the Museum.

The first day of the conference began with registration, followed by a Council meeting and visit to Cardiff Castle and a reception at the South Wales Institute of Engineers in the evening. The programme states this event as requiring Morning dress code which, during this time period would be a three piece suit for the men, and smart day dresses for the women, or general smart clothing suitable for formal social events.

The second day began with official welcomes by the Lord Mayor of Cardiff, Alderman R. G. Robinson, and the President of the National Museum Wales, Sir Leonard Twiston-Davies. This was followed by a number of papers read by delegates [all fully listed in the programme], gathering for the official conference photograph, and a Civic Reception at City Hall, hosted by the Lord Mayor [with refreshments, music and dancing].

1948 was the year that St Fagans National Museum of History was first opened to the public as the St Fagans Folk Museum and to mark this, a visit was arranged for the afternoon of day three. St Fagans Castle, gardens, and grounds had been given to the National Museum Wales by the Earl of Plymouth in 1946 and over the next two years extensive work had been carried out to make it suitable to open to the public. According to the 1950 St Fagans guide book, in the Castle, new central heating, electric lighting, and fire appliances had to be installed along with a tickets office, refreshment room and public amenities. By 1948 our delegates would have had access to the Castle and its newly refurbished historic interiors such as the kitchen with two 16th century fireplaces, the Hall furnished in 17th century style, 17th and 18th century bedrooms and the early 19th century Library. They would also have enjoyed walking the gardens which included a mulberry grove, herb and rose gardens, vinery, fishponds, and flower-house interspersed with bronze sculptures by Sir William Goscombe John. Onsite also were a traditional wood-turner and a basket-maker, creating and selling their wares. The handbook also describes a delightful sounding small tea room with curtains made at the Holywell Textile Mills and watercolour paintings by Sir Frank Brangwyn. However, according to a Western Mail clipping, this didn’t open to the public until some weeks later on August 24th. Presumably a room within the Castle itself was used for the delegates’ buffet tea to which they were treated after being greeted by the Curator of St Fagans, Dr Iorwerth Peate.

Interestingly the programme provides times of the train service that ran from Cardiff Central Station to St Fagans. Sadly, the station at St Fagans is no longer there, the service being withdrawn in 1962, although a signal box and level crossing on the line remain.

The Annual General Meeting, Council Meeting and Federation of Officers Meeting  were all held on the next day along with more papers, including one by Mr Duncan Guthrie [of the Arts Council], on the upcoming “Festival of Britain, 1951”. There was also an evening reception in the Museum hosted by the President, and the then Director [Sir Cyril Fox], with refreshments and music by the City of Cardiff High School for Girls Orchestra. The programme states evening dress if possible for this event so it’s a shame we don’t hold any photographs of what would have been a sea of tuxedos and evening gowns.

The final day consisted of further papers in the morning followed by escape and fresh air with visits to the Newport Corporation Museum and the Legionary Museum and Roman Amphitheatre at Caerleon during the afternoon.

The September 1948 issue of Museums Journal contains a full report on the conference, with detailed examination of all papers presented and the discussions they generated. It also lists the delegates including those from overseas. The report concludes with thanks to the National Museum Cardiff for the welcome and hospitality accorded to the 240 delegates, with special mention to North and Lee [who would certainly have earned their salaries over those five days!].

Last Saturday (2nd June) I took part in Soapbox Science, an event promoting the role of women in science by getting them to stand on a soapbox in the middle of a city centre and explain to and, hopefully, enthuse, people about what they do. The Cardiff event (one of several held on the same day around the UK) was based outside Cardiff Central Library, by the St David’s Centre.

 

I thought that it would be the scariest event I had ever done, but in the end, it turned out to be more exciting that I expected and I was barely nervous at all. In fact, standing in a lecture hall in front of several hundred people staring at you while you present is definitely worse!

 

My talk was based around taxonomy, the science of describing, naming and classifying species, but particularly the aspect of it relating to how we create and give names to species, something we often get asked questions about during events. To this end I had created ‘Brian’, a new species of polychaete (marine bristleworms) the like of which I was pretty confident had not been seen before (at this time!). Brian, of course, was his common name, a name that might change according to who and where you were in the world. He needed a scientific name, a name that would remain consistent regardless of language or location and that allows scientists to be sure that they are talking about the same species.

 

Scientific names have 2 parts, a group (genus) name that often includes several species that appear similar in general shape and form, and a specific name, the unique name that only belongs to a single species and that separates it from all others. Names are chosen or made from one, or several, Latin or Greek words and when translated, often provide some information on important characters, general appearance or where the organism may first have been discovered. Specific names would not normally be determined without referring to the other members of the group, but for this activity, this once, we were looking at the animal in isolation.

 

Brian’s group name was Atravermis: from the Latin ‘ater’ meaning black and ‘vermis’ meaning worm. With help from my audience, we then highlighted features on Brian that stood out and we used these to create possible specific names for him. Some of those we came up with were:

rubropodus: from ‘ruber’ meaning red and ‘–podus’ meaning footed = red-footed referring to his red legs;

flavipapillatus: from ‘flavi-‘ meaning yellow and ‘papillatus’ meaning to have papillae (small round balls attached to the skin) = yellow papillated, referring to the yellow papillae found on the body.

 

There are many rules relating to how and what names you can use for organisms. Taxonomists do not name species after themselves but they can name one after someone else. Thus, another possible name proposed was:

 

johnstonei: after one of my fellow speakers, Ashleigh Johnstone, as well as several more relating to my audience.

 

Lastly, names can refer to where the animal was found so one of the last suggestions was:

morhafrenensis: from the Welsh name for the Severn Estuary, Môr Hafren.

 

If the final choice, this would have given Brian the name, Atravermis morhafrenensis, meaning ‘black worm of the Severn Estuary’!

 

So why is taxonomy important?

All species have a unique function and role in the environment and if one is affected then it is more than likely that others will be affected too, as the loss of one will always leave some form of ‘hole’. Discovering and naming species helps us recognise each as distinct from all others and then we can recognize if one (or more) is being affected by something and what that is so that we can act on it. Knowledge of species enables us to make decisions based on a more complete view of the world and scientific names mean that we can be sure we are all talking about the same species.

 

Hopefully my stint on the soapbox might have relayed some of this to my audience and left them with knowing a little bit more about scientific names and where they come from but also why they (and taxonomy as a whole) are important.