Monthly Archives: February 2016

Carlisle Youth Panel

Youth Panel

The Youth Panel is a group of active and enthusiastic young people based in the Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery. We meet regularly to help curate exhibitions, create alternative labels for artefacts, and shape the youth programme.

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As a group of 14 to 21 year olds we put our own spin on the museum, which is now the proud winner of the Telegraph Family Friendly Museum Award 2015. As part of the museum’s inclusive approach for all ages, we play a part in making sure the exhibitions and museum spaces are designed to be suitable for everyone. As well as designing, creating and running our own exhibitions, we have made links with youth groups from other museums around the country to see how young people are shaping museums everywhere!

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THe Youth Panel are branching out to spread the value and meaning of culture to outside the confines of a museum, into our local society. Carlisle is overflowing with culture, history and art, yet the majority of residents and tourists miss out on the opportunity to experience it. Hundreds of tourists come into Carlisle from the train station, but follow the same familiar route to the main shops rather than reaching Carlisle’s Historical Quarter. Enter our most recent project- The Cultural Crawl app and map. The handy pocket sized map will be stocked free in the train station for tourists to pick up as they leave, and directs them to the spots on our Cultural Crawl.

The Citadel Station itself is the first point, the map then leading across the city towards The Guildhall, The Cathedral, Tullie House and Carlisle Castle. These points are only the tip of the iceberg for Carlisle’s history, and we hope in the future we’ll be able to expand the Crawl to cover as much of the rich culture as we can!

As tourists and residents follow the map around the city, summaries are available inside the leaflet, but it gets even better when you add a smartphone. By downloading the updated Tullie House app (available in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store), we can give them a sneak peek into what they would see at each attraction. Using the Augmented Reality function of the map, users can hold their smartphone over the map and see THe Youth Panel talk about some of the highlights and interesting facts from each. Also on the app, users can use sliding photos to compare old and new Carlisle, as well as look at animated images.

Through the app and the group itself, we hope to open up Carlisle’s history to residents and tourists alike, bringing together a community involving every age group!

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Check out the app on Apple-

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/tullie-house/id952651174?mt=8 and Google Play-https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.montyfunk.tulliehouse&hl=en_GB and pick up your map from Carlisle Citadel Station!

Picture This 3

After the previous two blogs, which looked at cameras from the early 1900s, I’m jumping the generations to look first at what a camera snob might say is the most awful thing they’ve ever seen.  But it’s not really the garish, fragile, unreliable, dirt-cheap, cute and amazing Snappit camera that I’m interested in – it’s the film it used.

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A Herd of Snappits

The Snappit first though. The Tullie’s example given its name by the film processing firm Supasnaps, but the camera appeared under many brand names around the world.  It might have been given away free, or might have cost, say, £1 or less if you were unlucky enough to have to pay for one.  You might be amazed that there is one in the Tullie House Collection,  but it was a popular – in its literal sense – camera. It was aimed at those who didn’t much care what their photos looked like, but who just wanted to remember the moment.

The film of the day for doing that was Kodak’s 126 cartridge.  The cartridge is longer than the Snappit’s tiny body so that some of it sticks out; the camera’s smart design keeps the bit that matters light-tight till the shutter is pressed.

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126 Cartridge

In 1963 Kodak had reacted to complaints from people who found loading cameras generally difficult.  It brought out the 126 drop-in cartridge and the first Instamatic camera. The film involved was actually 35mm but with just one perforation per frame, not for winding on, but so a pin can engage with the film and stop the wind-on so the last part of the action can cock the shutter.  The image size was about 26mm square.                                                  

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A basic Kodak Instamatic

Kodak aimed to match or beat the success of the Box Brownie with its Instamatic cameras and its fool-proof drop-in loading system.  Millions upon millions of Instamatic cameras were sold, with varying degrees of sophistication, between 1963 and the late 1980s.  Other makers bought into the format in a big way.  Typically, Rollei and Zeiss made expensive single-lens reflex 126 cameras.

 

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Rellei and Zeiss offerings

But 126 had a built-in big drawback.  Film flatness is crucial to sharp focus and 126 film was never very good at being dead flat behind the lens.  There was no pressure plate; it relied on the film cartridge being within spec, and it was never great*.  Then consider that the majority of 126 cameras had simple plastic lenses, no fine-focus mechanism and no way to check focus, so the snapper was up against it from the start; but most people didn’t care.

Many old Instamatics are relatively new and still work and it’s amazing how many of the Snappit-type cameras can be found.  The last 126 film was made by Ferrania in 2007, but if you’re handy, you can reload an old 126 cartridge with current 35mm film, but the image will overlap onto the film’s perforations.  It’s actually quite a nice effect in a print.  The web will tell you more, and like most things, you can see it done on youtube.

The Tullie’s Snappit is currently on show in the museum atrium, along with well over a dozen other cameras dating from 1900 to 2004.

*126’s “subminiature” partner, 110 film, was even worse, but it still sold by the ton.

Andy – Curatorial Assistant

Border Birthdays and other memories with John Myers#CNMyStory

John Myers came to see his photograph in Pages from History: Celebrating 200 Years of The Cumberland News, our current exhibition, and brought with him a very special guest.

eric2John and Eric the Monkey worked together from 1986-89 on Border Television, presenting the very popular Border Birthdays – which ran for many years – reading out birthday greetings for children across Cumbria, Dumfries and Galloway, and the Scottish Borders.

John shared his memories of working with the puppet, revealing that he had found Eric whilst on holiday in Spain and brought him back to present the show with him.

In 1986 Eric was so popular in the region that 1000 replica Erics were made and sold in County Stores – most of the monkeys sold out – topping kid’s Christmas lists that year!

John was kind enough to donate one of the last remaining replicas to Tullie House to add to our collection. Eric is currently being accessioned, which means our Curatorial team are taking his photograph and some measurements and adding him to our database. You can come and see the Eric replica, which we’ll be putting on display in Pages from History in time for half term.

John and his wife Linda spent quite some time in the exhibition and shared more of their memories with our staff, and reporters from The Cumberland News.

As soon as we entered the exhibition Linda spotted he front cover of The Cumberland News from November 1983 – which was the first time The Cumberland News printed a colour photograph. The photograph featured Princess Diana on her visit to Carlisle.

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Linda shared a precious memory

“I was there, I was right in the front row and she shook my hand”.

Linda was certainly not alone, thousands of people turned out to see the Princess in the City Centre. Linda had a look at this crowd shot but couldn’t see herself there. Perhaps you can see someone you recognise?

As we got further into the exhibition John spotted a picture of Grapes Lane, which was in the city centre before the streets were demolished to build The Lanes Shopping Centre.

CN212“We used to walk past the Lanes all the time, I remember watching when the demolition crew moved in and hundreds of rats came running out from everywhere”

 

The Lanes were some of the oldest buildings in the City Centre, some dating back to medieval. By the late 1970s they had fallen into a state of disrepair and the process began to clear the area to build The Lanes, which opened in 1986 – just as John and Eric were taking to screen for Border Birthdays. The development of The Lanes roused a few Carlisle citizens to protest and you can see a poster from The Lanes Presevation Society in Pages from History.

The exhibition also brought back sad memories for John. This image of Lockerbie following the terrorist attack which rocked the nation brought back a very specific memory for John.

“The night this happened (21 December 1988) was the same night as the Border Television Christmas Party. The news came through, and because all the journalists and cameramen were already there, they headed straight out.

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Border Television were the first on the scene and captured some truly memorable and shocking footage. News companies from across the world were getting in touch with Border to use their images”

 

A huge thank you to John and Linda (and of course Eric the Monkey) for coming to visit the exhibition and sharing their memories with us.

Pages from History: Celebrating 200 Years of The Cumberland News is open until Sunday 21st February. Why not visit and tell us Your Story.

Amati Violin and Friends

Fiddle.  Some would say we have one in the foyer of the Old Tullie House; the one that was made in the 1560s by Andrea Amati.  Some violinists might be quite indignant if they heard it called a fiddle.  Most seem not to mind and many call their own instruments fiddles.

ViolinsOK then. Fiddle – a word developed slowly through the medieval period that can mean any bowed instrument.

It appears that the Arab world gave us the kick-start on fiddles in the 8th or 9th centuries in the shape of a gourd with strings stretched over it – the ‘rabab’ or ‘rebec’.  In Europe it was carved from wood.  Maybe all that carving effort was too much and gave the luthiers of old the idea to make a built-up wooden box instead.

 

If it hadn’t been for that leap forward the Old Tullie House might be graced with something rather different by Andrea Amati.  The five instruments – all fiddles if we go by the definition above – that have joined it there might have been all rather different too.  But no, the viola, the viol da gamba, the viola d’amore, the pochette violin and the tiny violin are all wonderful wooden boxes of maple, spruce, pine, ebony, ivory, bone and boxwood.  Boxes, but ones of just the right shape, weight, thickness, density to be quite wonderful things.

Violins2Andrea Amati’s violin, which has stood alone in Old Tullie House for a good number of years, is an amazing survivor from the court orchestra of King Charles IX of France.  That it is 450 years old almost beggars belief.  When it was made; Elizabeth I had been queen for eight years, the Spanish Armada was not even a glint in Philip II’s eye. It is one of the oldest violins in the world, and it survived the French Revolution.

The five instruments new to Old Tullie House are all rather younger, three of them 18th century, the viola is early 19th century, and the tiny “toy” 16cm-long violin late 19th.  All survivors, if only from the ravages of children.

The miniature violin is included in the display to represent the local makers of Cumbria in the Tullie collection – Maghie, Birtles, Scott.  I wish we could tell you the names of the luthiers who made the elegant viola d’amore with its 13 strings, the rather rustic viol da gamba that at one time had ten strings but now has just four, and the pochette violin (somebody said “dinky” the other day) which would have been played for the better off as they honed their ballroom skills – but not one of those instruments has a maker’s mark that can be seen.

They are on show now for the first time in more than 20 years.  To add to the spectacle, a new Collection Conversation has been developed around them.  You can find out more about how a violin is made; what Mr Amati came up with that makes the violin different to its contemporaries, and more about the origins of the instrument, with a replica soprano rebec that you can handle.  You can even try to play it if you feel bold and want your cat to write a sympathy card.

For their help in putting these instruments on show, and developing the collection conversation, Tullie House would like to thank:

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Anthony Calvert, of the Early Music Shop, Salts Mill, Saltaire, W.Yorks
Corrie Schrijver, violin maker and restorer of Brampton, Cumbria
James Rawes, violin maker and restorer, of Cotehill, Carlisle, Cumbria

 

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