Monthly Archives: April 2015

Anselm Kiefer Young Peoples’ Project


Tullie House has teamed up with Nacro and Carlisle Key to work with local young people on a project inspired by the work of Anselm Kiefer, whose works feature in our current ARTIST ROOMS Anselm Kiefer exhibition. Catherine our Young People Coordinator gives us an update of what they’ve been up to.

In the workshops the young people have been using mixed media on canvas to explore their own identities; what is it that makes us who we are, and how much of it is linked to a ‘national identity’?

collageThe young people have noticed that Kiefer uses a lot of different materials, and also includes text in some of his work, so during the workshops we have tried to achieve a similar effect by using collage, paint, stencils, and newsprint altogether on one piece.

They have been encouraged to use pictures, words, and phrases which bear some significance to their lives, and that represent them in some way. The groups have also been re-visiting, adding to, and reusing pieces that they have started in earlier sessions, which is also something that Kiefer does with his own work.

The groups have been working with local musician Steven Pearson to explore the use of music and song lyrics as a way of expressing their thoughts and feelings about Kiefer’s work. It can sometimes be hard to communicate personal responses to art work, and using another reference can make it easier. Steven has done some sessions which involve layering sounds, and mixing music in a similar way that Kiefer layers materials and mixes different artistic mediums.

The young people will be sharing a ‘musical tour’ with museum visitors, which through the use of QR codes will direct people in the gallery to songs on their ‘kiefer2music’ blog (coming soon), where the young people have chosen music they feel links to pieces of Kiefer’s artwork.

finished piece

The groups are working towards a larger-scale creative response to the exhibition, which will go on display in the museum reception in time for our Museums at Night event of Thursday 14 May, where the young people will be able to share the work they have been doing.

The project is supported by funding from ARTIST ROOMS who aim to engage ‘new’ young audiences (13 to 25 years old) across the UK with the ARTIST ROOMS collection and artists, in a meaningful and enjoyable way.


Who was St. George?

st. george Today is St. George’s Day – we have recently displayed this bronze statue of St. George in our new Atrium display, opposite the Reception Desk – why not pay him a visit!

But who is St. George? And why is he the patron saint of England?

St. George was not English Although St. George has been the patron saint of England for hundreds of years, he was not actually English and it is unlikely he ever visited here. His actual place of birth is questioned but is often thought to be the city of Lydda, the Roman name for Lod, now is Isreal. He was born in 270AD

St. George was a Roman Soldier George rose to the status of officer in Roman Army, but he was ordered to his death for failing to convert from his Christian faith.

It is highly unlikely he slayed a dragon Legend tells that St. George slayed a dragon that came from the sea off Beirut, in modern day Lebanon. It is always difficult to prove tales about dragons, and it is thought that this legend may have been born from him killing a crocodile.

Edward III pronounced George as patron saint of England Inspired by tales of George from returning Crusaders King Edward III (1327-1377) proclaimed him as patron saint of England as a good symbol for the founding of the Order of the Garter – England’s highest order of knights.

George is also patron saint of a lot of other countries St. George is also patron saint of the following countries, Georgia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Lebanon, Portugal , Serbia, Catalan Spain and the Romani People, as well as many other cities and being a very important saint in many other countries.

He is also the patron saint of other things As well as a whole host of countries and cities St. George is the patron saint of scouting and skin diseases, including leprosy, syphilis and herpes.

St. George’s Day is celebrated on many different days 23rd of April is often seen as the day of George’s martyrdon, which is why many places celebrate today – but this is not the same everywhere.

Despite the use of St. George in Crusades he is venerated by Muslims too St. George is seen as a protector of Christianity and his image was used to spur on Crusaders against Muslim people during the fourteenth and fifteenth century, but he is actually well known and respected inthe Muslim faith, often being linked to the Quranic figure Al-Khidr.

Behind the Scenes: This is how we roll!

Eloise and some of our other Museum Assistants have been assisting our Curator of Fine and Decorative Art this week with some tasks in the costume and textiles stores. She gives us an insight into what goes into looking after our textile collection.

It definitely seems this week that everything to do with museum collections care comes in rolls.

Rolls of bubble wrap, acid free tissue, plastic, wadding, melanex, tyvex and calico all have a part to play in taking care of our collection, and in preserving vulnerable materials.

These have all been out this week, as we spend time in the costume and art stores. The costume store is definitely my favourite; a wonder-house of items, revealing the prized fashions and fabrics of women over the last 200 years. Some necessary jobs this week have been making calico dust covers for the dress rails, and a re-visit with the hoover for a general clean.

There are some great fabrics to admire whilst we do this, including a Victorian girl’s dress covered in tiny horses, and an outrageously bright rainbow puffa jacket from the 1980’s.


In the afternoon, we progress to shoes; specifically modern plastic shoes from the 1960’s-90’s. You might own a few fabulous pairs yourself! Unfortunately, plastics are rapidly becoming the new watchword in museum collections, as the amount of plastic items increase. Some plastics begin to degrade quickly, and the rubbers and synthetics in shoes and clothes are especially vulnerable.

We decide to do an emergency shoe triage, and move some of the plastic items into three quarantines; shoes to watch, shoes which are showing signs of decay and shoes which are beginning to disintegrate. These we put in well-ventilated boxes in a separate location.


The second day in the costume store is all about rolls, as we re-package a couple of quilts and some tapestry hangings. quilt

The first quilt we repack was made for a local school headmaster by the pupils using the Suffolk puff technique, and is from the 1930’s.

Tquilt2his second quilt has a wonderful cross-section of fabric patterns dating from the early 1800’s and beautiful crewel work embroidery, but has unfortunately suffered slightly from folding, and has developed wrinkles in the patchwork.

Rolling is a very effective way of storing flat fabric items, preventing creasing, and wear from folding, and in creating a protected environment for the fabric. So we now store large textile items such as quilts and tapestries rolled, like this …


White gloves on again, and we begin the careful process of wrapping the fabrics in rolled layers of melanex, acid free tissue paper, calico and wadding around large plastic tubes. It takes some practice to roll these straight, but it is worth doing right. As we roll, the quilts are constantly smoothed, to try and ease out wrinkles and creases.

The tapestries are fragile, and we have to re-locate them from a different store. At the same time, we bring back mannequins for a new display to go up in the museum in a few weeks. One of the dresses planned has a 22 inch waist, but is still so small that it needs one of our smallest available mannequins. The return journey loosely resembles the three wise men; as we carry our odd collection of items. I am holding the tapestry gingerly in front of me like an offering, because the hessian is so fragile, and the mannequins in their black bags attract some funny looks from passers-by!

We also spend time making loose covers for some of the larger sculptures in the art stores. One of the bronze statuettes; George and the Dragon by Paul Bocquillon, c. 1870-1880 has just gone into a new display opposite the reception desk, and needed a delicate clean using a museum vacuum and a soft, dry paintbrush to take off the dust.

From the small details to the bigger conservation jobs, collections care is a curious combination of monitoring, storing and cleaning; long term maintenance and short term projects are all part and parcel. Keeping the museum rolling!

THe Shed – More Life, Laws and Legacies

THe Shed in Tullie House may now be closed but there’s still chance experience the Tudor themes from the last exhibition.  Our original Tudor building the ‘Guildhall’ is open for this week of the school holidays and again in May for the summer.

Eloise shares with us some information about the final Shed exhibition and the Guildhall.


THe Shed exhibtion of Life, Laws and Legacies

The final shed exhibition, Life, Laws and Legacies has ended with the Mayor and Mayoress coming to re-open our treasured Guildhall Museum, which is the third oldest building in Carlisle after the Castle and Cathedral.


The Dormont Book

The Dormont Book



For those of you who missed seeing the City’s wonderful Dormont Book, there is a copy of the weird and wonderful old laws kept in the Guildhall, where you can see some of our treasures from Carlisle’s Tudor past.


You can see the huge iron bound Muniment chest where the City’s documents and treasure were stored, and also the world’s oldest sports trophies are housed in the Guildhall Museum.

Racing Bells

Racing Bells



These horse racing bells date from 1599 and older, and were given as prizes by the Tudor mayor and Lady Dacre.


The Guildhall

The Guildhall

Come and explore this beautiful oak beamed building, with its wattle and daub walls, and feel like you can step back in time. The men who signed the Dormont Book sat in these very rooms nearly 450 years ago.


Inside the Guildhall

Inside the Guildhall

Isaac Tully, whose family built Tullie House was a member of the merchants guild here. He still owes the Guild 40 shillings fine for allowing his sister to work in his shop!


So overall, are we really just terribly Modern Tudors? Well, yes, I think we might be!

Happy Owls on Tour lands at Tullie House

This Easter we have welcomed a new exhibition into our Special Exhibition Gallery. HOOT (Happy Owls on Tour) is home to 60 felt owl wall hangings, designed and made by 60 units of Brownies in Cumbria North as part of the celebrations in 2014 for the Big Brownie Birthday. You’ll have to be quick to catch them though, they’re only here for a flying visit before heading off to their next perch on the 19th of April.


The Brownies celebrated 100 years of Brownies and created the Owls with the help of Girlguiding Cumbria North’s Assistant County Commissioner and local artist, Karen MacDougall. The Owls were first seen together at Muncaster when over 3,000 Brownies celebrated with the biggest ever birthday party!

HOOT4How they were made:

The Brownies were given a brief and created a number of designs for their hanging. Some units voted for their favourite design, other units chose a little bit from each – different ways of showing democracy and how Guiding helps girls to make decisions.

Karen MacDougall is an artist who works with communities, she took the girl’s sketches and worked out how these could be made in felt and made up felting packs for each unit.

Karen led all the felt making sessions, step by step, teaching and encouraging as girls, leaders and helpers from different units came together in halls throughout Cumbria North. The Trefoil Guild helped stitch on badges and tabs to the felts so that they can be exhibited in professional galleries and museums.HOOT2

Leaders learned something new and felt confident to be able to do more with their units. Everyone was amazed at the process and the results. The Owl hangings will become souvenirs and part of their unit’s history for the next 100 years.

Karen tells us how to make felt,

“To make felt you need soap (alkali), water (warm), fibres and friction (we rubbed for ages) in a controlled way. Bubblewrap was used (and reused until it fell apart) to give us extra fingers to shorten the rubbing time and the hanging was finished by rolling in bamboo mats and then rinsed, squeezed and then dried flat.”


On Sunday 12 April we will be holding a fun and informal craft session to make a free owl themed souvenir of your visit to see HOOT between 1pm – 4pm. You can also find out more about Brownies, Rainbows, Guides, Senior Section and Adult Volunteering opportunities in your area of Cumbria.

Object of the Month – April

As we hop into April, we have a new Object of the Month on display in our Rear Atrium, this month’s object from our stores is …

State Management Beer BottleIMGP6227

This bottle of Nut Brown beer was sold in Carlisle during the era of State Management (1916-1971).

Edwin, our Keeper of Social History tells us a little more about the fascinating history behind this month’s Object of the Month.

IMGP6234The Central Control Board (Liquor Traffic) was set up during by the British Government during World War I to regulate alcohol consumption in areas near major munitions factories and naval docks. In 1915 the Board took over ownership of Carlisle’s pubs, hotels and breweries nuder the defence of the Realm Act.

Carlisle had 119 public houses and 4 breweries serving a population of 50,000. There was also a surge in the population of the city due to an influx of labourers building the vast HM Gretna Munitions Factory. Many of these navvies visited the local pubs and there was a rise in drunkeness and anti social behaviour. In 1916 the Carlisle State Management bought up all the existing pubs and breweries. Pubs were closed down or reformed and managed by the State.

‘The Carlisle Experiment’ lasted until 1971 when the state-owned breweries and pubs were sold off. The legacy of the scheme lives on in the New Model Inns designed by Harry Redfern during the 1920s and 1930s; pubs like the Apple Tree and the Cumberland Inn in the city centre and others in the suburbs.

Next year is the 100th Anniversary of the start of State Management in Carlisle – if you have any objects or stories from this fascinated era of our history then please get in touch with the museum via

You can now vote for the Object of the Month at

Living History – Dancing with a Difference!


The Easter Holidays began with a bang last weekend when the Tullie House Border Galleries were brought to life through a dance project with a difference. Award winning local choreographer Adam Russell made an open call to Carlisle residents interested in trying their hand at contemporary dance. For six weeks the galleries were transformed into a dance studio, with rehearsals for three groups of amateur and professional dancers ranging from the age of eight to (nearly) eighty!

bgTheir hard work concluded in seven promenade dance performances for all of our weekend visitors, which began by the notorious ‘cursing stone’ in the museum underpass, moving through the galleries with scenes in the Victorian train carriages, on the roman wall, by the iron age hut, through the beautiful old house, and outside into the Jacobean gardens. The dancers told a compelling story inspired by the space and the time period it represented. The whole performance was accompanied by musician Madelaine Jones, who played beautifully bespoke pieces on the flute and on the keyboard to complement the dances.

It was fantastic to see the surprised faces of visitors who just came across the dancers in the gallery; emerging from the caves beating drums and sticks, or popping up from behind the Roman wall wearing red feathered helmets!IMG_0109

We have received some lovely responses from audience members, who ‘found the experience uplifting’, and thought ‘the dancers of all ages were very talented, and the theme that Adam Russell had created was very thought provoking’.


We hope to continue using the museum in new and innovative ways, bringing the galleries to life through projects which bring the community together in this way. A huge Well Done and Thank You to everyone who took part and came along and watched!

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