Amgueddfa Blog: Community Engagement

Part 2, Working with our community partners.

 

Powysland Museum is working with the National Museum’s Saving Treasures; Telling Stories on an Archaeological Jewellery project.

In this update we hear from some of their community partners.

Welshpool Camera Club

The club has around 40 members of all abilities, from pros, advanced, to amateurs, who all ‘club together’ to ensure members’ photographic skills are challenged regardless of technical ability. They look at mastering camera techniques through hands on experience and invite speakers to give presentations.

With many of the archaeological jewellery pieces in Powysland Museum’s project being small, with delicate decoration, it was obvious that the project needed the expertise of good photographers to capture the details and refinement of the pieces.

Powysland Museum was therefore delighted when the Camera Club agreed to be one of the project’s community engagement partners.

The club’s members have got up close and personal with some of the objects and have taken some great close-ups, which have fed into the museum’s work with the other community engagement partners.

Welshpool Young Carers

Welshpool Young Carers are a group of young people who look after and care for one or more members of their family on a full-time basis. Alex Sperr, the project’s community engagement officer, ran a workshop with the group, which produced a delightful and colourful display.

The workshop focussed on the art of the museum display. A display is often the only chance you have for capturing the attention of your intended audience.

It must grab audience members at first glance, hold them there to see what it offers and persuade them to further explore the museum and the artefacts on display.

A display can be used to tell part of an object’s history, and in this workshop we focussed on making jewellery and displays for the Saving Treasures exhibition at Powysland.

The group first visited the Saving Treasures jewellery exhibit, looking at the ways in which objects are displayed.

Exploring how to display rings in the exhibition, the group then made Plaster of Paris hands by using rubber gloves as moulds. Casts of the children’s hands were made using plaster bandage or modroc, and rings were made using recycled materials.

The children then set up their displays as they would like to see them in the exhibition, along with their names.

Buttington-Trewern School

Local poet and writer Pat Edwards has run the “Off the Page” young creative writers’ club at Powysland Museum and is also runs the annual Welshpool Poetry Festival. Her quirky and exciting mind was guaranteed to engage the children.

Pat visited the museum to work with all the junior classes. The children were shown the archaeological jewellery and were even allowed to touch and hold some of the sturdier artefacts – obviously while wearing white, cotton gloves!

This was a unique opportunity for the children to see the objects outside their usual display cases.

Pat Edwards then discussed the theme of jewellery with the children, helping them develop ideas and create stories, poems, posters and other written works involving one or more of the museum objects. Some of the results and photographs from the sessions are on display.

Together with Pat, the museum is planning to develop this creative experience by offering writing classes at the museum during the exhibition period, where visitors can seek inspiration from the objects and practical help from Pat to write and tell their own stories.

The Archaeological Jewellery exhibition runs at Powysland Museum until September, after which you can catch it at Radnorshire and Brecknock Museums.

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!

What's the Project all about?

“Saving Treasures; Telling Stories” is an all-Wales Project about bringing archaeology to life and enabling community engagement.

It is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and administered by Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales in partnership with the Federation of Museums and Galleries in Wales and the Portable Antiquities Scheme in Wales.

At Powysland Museum the project takes as its starting point the existing collections of archaeological jewellery in the three local authority museums in Powys: Powysland Museum in Welshpool, Radnorshire Museum in Llandrindod Wells and Brecknock Museum and Art Gallery in Brecon.

Some of the objects have been acquired by the museums as recent treasure finds, while others have been in the collections for several years.

What is Powysland Museum doing?

The project encompasses:

  • a temporary exhibition on archaeological jewellery from the museums in Powys.
  • engagement with a number of community groups in story-writing sessions, art and jewellery workshops and research inspired by the artefacts and their stories, to be displayed in the exhibition.
  • art and craft activities, “finds open days” and other events for a wider audience during the exhibition period.

Community Partners

The museum has been working with a number of partners to deliver the promised outcomes, such as Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust, the poet and writer Pat Edwards and the artist Andrew Logan.


The community partners have included Welshpool High School’s Art department, Buttington-Trewern Primary School, Welshpool Camera Club, Llanfair-Caereinion Historical Society, Welshpool Young Carers and Welshpool Kaleidoscope group.

Working with Welshpool Poetry Festival


One of the bonuses of having Pat Edwards involved in the project was that she transferred the idea of archaeological jewellery to the annual Welshpool Poetry Festival, of which she is the founder and the organiser.
 
Every year the poetry festival holds a competition and this year’s theme was ‘jewels’. For the ‘Young People’s Poetry Competition (Ages 7-14) the winners were:

  • First Prize – ‘My Jewel’ by Nancy Gargiulo from Criftins Primary School
  • Second Prize – ‘Jewel’ by Lila Melnykevicova
  • Third Prize – ‘Silver’ by Maisie from Berriew School

Powysland museum is delighted to be able to display these poems and others along with their Saving Treasures-funded Archaeological Jewellery exhibition.

 

Anna Edwards, yn siarad am y ddarganfyddiad o’r Gelc Bronington ar eu fferm hi yn 2014:

Roedden ni wedi perchen ar y tir am dair mlynedd pan ddarganfyddon ni'r casgliad, er ein bod ni wedi rhentu o am flynyddoedd cyn hynny. Doedd neb wedi bod yno efo canfodyddion metel o'r blaen.

Dw'i bob amser yn gwerthfawrogi hanes a dwi'n cofio gorlethu'n gyffrous.  Mae wybodaeth leol wedi dysgi i ni bod llawer o weithgareddau wedi bod yn yr ardal yn y gorffennol fel yn ystod y Rhyfel Cartref a'r diwydiant halen.  Mae ffermio o dydd i ddydd wedi agor i fyny crochenwaith man, botwmau ond mae arwyddocad a phwysigrwydd y casgliad yn syfrdanol a mwy nag unrhywbeth gallwn i fod wedi dychmygu.

Fel y mwyafrif o bethau pwysig sy'n digwydd yn ein bywyd; mae digwyddiad pegynol fel hwn yn troi i fyny ar siawns.

Collodd fy ngwr ei oriadau yn ystod y cynhaeaf a gofynnodd i'r defnyddwyr canfodyddion metel lleol i helpu. Cafodd fy ngwr ei oriadau nôl a rhoddodd o wahoddiad i'r dynion i ddod yn ôl yn eu hamser hamdden.

Roedd gweld a theimlo'r casgliad yn ryfeddol ac yn gyffrous i fod y person cyntaf i wisgo'r modrwy ers 500 mlynedd. Roedd y cyflwr yn gysefin ac yn edrych yn newydd sbon. Roedd rhaid i ni eistedd i lawr i werthfawrogi'r sefyllfa. I bwy roedd hi’n perthyn? Pwy wisgodd o? Sut bobl oedden nhw? Oedd y trysor wedi ei guddio neu ddwyn?

Mae darganfod y casgliad wedi cryfhau ein cysylltiad efo'r tir ble rydyn ni wedi gweithio mor galed. Mae'n fraint i gyrraedd mor bell ac yn anrhydedd mawr i fod yn gysylltiedig efo'r arian a'r modrwy. Tystiolaeth o'r gorfennol, pressenol a'r dyfodol i ni.

Yn ogystal â hyn mae'n syndod i mi am y diddordeb sydd wedi ei gynyddu yn lleol ac ymhellach. Ymddangosodd yn y papur newydd, derbynion alwadau ffôn o radio Chicago a siaradon yn fyw i holl dalaith Illinois, mwy i ddilyn!

Mae'n bleser gweld y plant ysgol yn cael eu cynnwys yn y cyffro ac aelodau'r gymuned trwy’r prosiect - "Buried in the Borderlands"

 

What was I thinking when I said yes?

 

Soapbox Science is a fantastic initiative to promote 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. This year, the Cardiff event is being held on 2nd June, outside Cardiff Central Library, by the St David’s Centre (see poster).

 

So again, what was I thinking?

 

Well actually, I was thinking that most people don’t understand taxonomy, what it is and why it’s important, let alone why I would want to look at worms all day, and I want to tell them.

 

I want them to understand why it is important, not just to me, but why they should care too. Taxonomy is the science of naming, describing and classifying organisms (showing how they are all related to each other and patterns of evolution). It is just one aspect of my job but the one that often gets the most interest and questions and, I think, possibly the least understood part. In 2010, the Census of Marine Life returned an estimate of over one million species living in the oceans, of which around one to two thirds are thought to be unknown. Add to that more recent research that shows that many species are, in fact, species complexes that consist of multiple species that are almost indistinguishable in appearance and, actually, the estimate of undescribed species suddenly rockets.

 

But so what? Why should people care about whether we know what all the different creatures in the sea are and give them names? Well, that is what I want to explain along with a little about how we come up with names. To this end I now have the job of ‘creating’ a worm that people can help name on the day using various features and information that I will tell them. Names tell you something about the animal, sometimes appearance, sometimes where it is from, but importantly, names are unique and help you identify that one animal from a group of others that may look very similar.

 

The montaged image on this page is just one of two that I have created to show people what marine bristleworms (polychaetes) look like. Most people think of earthworms when you talk about worms but actually polychaetes are so much more: more colourful, more detailed, many have eyes and jaws and some can even grow big enough to bite you! They all have interesting names that I will help explain to demonstrate what names mean.

 

Intrigued? Want to know more? Then come down to the event on Saturday 2nd June and find out how we name species and why it is important!

(http://soapboxscience.org/soapbox-science-2018-cardiff/)