Winter Warmers

The weather is starting to turn colder and we are all reaching for our favourite knitwear to make those cold winter days bearable.  For centuries we have been turning to wool and the art of knitting to keep out those Winter chills.

Melanie Gardner, Curator of Art, has been delving into our extensive collection of knitted items and here are just a few examples:

This little Staffordshire pottery child’s mug is inscribed ‘A Gift for Knitting Well’. It has transfer blue printed decoration and dates from the Victorian period.

Staffordshire Pot

This lovely miniature knitted jug is called a ‘pence jug’ and dates from the 1850’s. It was used as a purse for storing change or small items. It is knitted in blue and red cotton. Knitting was a popular leisure activity in the 19th century and a wide variety of items were knitted from patterns.

Knitted Jug

Another small knitted purse in the collection this time used for holding a sovereign. Sovereign purses were very popular during the 19th and early 20th century.

Knitted Purse

This amazing ‘flapper’ style dress dates from about 1925 and was probably worn for special occasions. It is crocheted in grey silk with very long silk tassels at the hem and has a matching grey silk under-slip. This style of dress was the height of fashion in the 1920’s.

Flapper Dress

This pair of child’s brown wool socks date from the Second World War. Although they are unworn they were made for practicality and warmth. The mark ‘CC41’ stamped on each sock refers to the utility scheme introduced in 1942 during wartime rationing. Clothes with the utility mark were made from standard designs from a regulated amount of material with no superfluous decoration.

Socks

This little girl’s cream lambswool knitted dress was worn by the donor in 1946. Knitwear was hugely popular during wartime and a wide variety of knitting patterns became available to meet demand.

Baby Dress

This gents patterned knitted tank top dates from the early 1970’s when knitwear went through a revival and was hugely fashionable.

Tank Top

This stylish purple wool bat-winged jumper was knitted by Mabel Bateman from Carlisle for her daughter Jackie to wear in the 1970’s.

Batwing Jumper

Written by – Melanie Gardner, Curator of Art

Do you have any home made knitwear master pieces or even disasters lurking in your cupboards?

It may be a school jumper that went sadly wrong and you paid the price all term long! A balaclava that mum insisted you wore when the weather took a turn for the worse.

Take a picture and send it to us or share your knitwear stories.

Stories of Cumbrian Spirit #CNMyStory

Tullie House’s current exhibition Pages from History explores news stories from across Cumbria and the world from the last 200 years – but the biggest story has always been the strength and character of the Cumbrian people – this has been proved this last couple of weeks and countless times across the centuries. In this blog post we explore the stories of three iconic Cumbrians shared by visitors to Pages from History.

Have you ever been in the local paper? Most people have a story to share, and we’re asking people to contribute theirs, in celebration of the iconic local stories featured in The Cumberland News over the last 200 years.

Featured in this first blog entry are three uplifting, tenacious and pioneering stories sent to us from Nicki Butterworth, K. Harkness and Paula Jennings.

Nicki Butterworth

1

Food Fighters, 2014

Nicki is an inspirational woman, who on finding out that her cancer had spread, wrote a bucket list of experiences she did not want to miss out on. Nicki’s story was followed by The Cumberland News and the News and Star. Many local people donated to make the things on her list possible.

In this bizarre award winning photograph by Stuart Walker, we see Nicki and her husband in the aftermath of an enormous food fight which took place in her back garden.

In March 2015, the News and Star reported that Nicki was investigating a new treatment plan with good results. Nicki visited the exhibition to see her picture and was able to shed a little light on a frequently asked question!

2Nicki’s Story:

“A question about my picture that always gets asked is ‘what did it taste like when you licked your husband!’ Awful! Beans, mayo, custard, chocolate and angel delight are not a good mix! xx”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paula Jennings

Paula’s stories remind us of the important role of local newspapers. They are there to document, celebrate and commemorate some of the biggest events in our lives

4a“My Mum was in the paper when she got married in 1964. She was on the front page.”

 

 

 

 

3

Wedding dress, 1968, Tullie House

Almost forty years later The Cumberland News would remember Paula’s intrepid grandmother

 

4b“My grandmother Mary Little made the news when she died in 2002, as she was the first ever female bookmaker in the North West. In 1967 she took over my Grandad Willie Little’s business when he sadly passed away.”

 

 

 

 

K. Harkness

Our third story features a wonderful local character Ben Ion, whose portrait is featured in the Pages from History exhibition. Ben worked at the Thomas Muir Carlisle coal yard in Crown Street from 1902, and other than during WW1, never missed a day of work until he reached the age of 80 in 1968.

5

Ben Ion, coal merchant, 1968

One of our visitors worked with Ben, or as we find out, Andy, and shares some of his memories with us.

6“He was always known as Andy. His eyesight was very poor and his wife always brought him to work, then fetched his bait at 10am and 3pm, and also his dinner at noon. He lived in St Nicholas St.

During bad weather he would tie an old sack round his waist and also over his shoulders to protect himself. He never missed a day’s work for as long as I knew him.”

Do you have stories to share? Send us your stories on Facebook or Twitter #CNMyStory #CN200 or post them in the exhibition.

Find out more about some of our wonderful local personalities in our current exhibition Pages from History: Celebrating 200 years of the Cumberland News open until 31 January 2016.

 

Picture This 2

Volunteers – Caldew School NCS Students Get Involved

On Saturday 28 November, the volunteer programme were delighted to welcome 22 pupils from Caldew School to complete a day of  ‘Social Action’ at Tullie House as the culmination of their National Citizen Scheme Award.DSCN1273

Nicky and John tell us about their day at Tullie and the work towards their award.

Last Saturday we completed our social action project at Tullie House Museum. As a group we developed and participated in three activities.  The focus of the day was thinking about visitors from the community with visual impairment.  This meant that one group created a sensory space in the garden, and another group researched and wrote scripts then recorded audio ‘labels’ for the Social History gallery. Finally the third and smallest group produced an NCS display, highlighting what the NCS programme involves and has to offer all young people.DSCN1287DSCN1276DSCN1302

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To give you some background, the NCS stands the National Citizen Service award and is open for all 16-17 year olds across England and Wales. It is a journey through a series of phases with its ethos being based on:

  • Challenge
  • Responsibility
  • Inspiration
  • Social mix
  • Independency
  • Social action

All of us who complete the NCS journey are awarded with a certificate signed by David Cameron (prime minister). However the skills and knowledge that we gain on the route are extremely valuable to wherever our futures lead.

We are all year 12 pupils from Caldew School.  The start of the course saw us go to Lockerbie Manor, an outdoor pursuits centre where we did a range of activities designed to build up our confidence and communication skills.  Then over the Autumn half term we visited various places within Carlisle and improved our understanding of the local community.  We also took inspiration from the local organisations which eventually led us to taking part in a social action project at Tullie House Museum.

Davie, one of the students summed their wish to participate perfectly saying “I’m here to give something back to the community” a sentiment echoed by all the students.

John Sander the NCS Co-ordinator from Carlisle United had these further comments to make:

“I am thrilled that the group have chosen to work in partnership with the city’s leading tourist attraction. The confidence and inspiration they will gain as this project develops will not only have a big effect on their futures but it will be something that they will always remember. Hopefully their endeavours both in raising the funding and then working at the museum will also have a long, lasting and beneficial effect on the city and people of Carlisle”

John Sander added:

“For most of these sixth formers who attend Caldew School the NCS journey has been a life changing experience. This relatively new government initiative has improved their employability and allowed the young people to build friendships and memories on both the away and home residential experiences that will last for ever. The work at Tullie House is now the icing on the cake that allows all these students to graduate”

What Nicky and John didn’t mention in their text above is that they also carried out fundraising  that meant Tullie House was able to benefit from £200 worth of plants for the garden and further £600 for the museum.  It is my intention to see these funds used to continue the work you have started.

I was very pleased to host these students and enable them to complete their award.  In addition, they have made a real contribution to their museum and created superb resources for visitors to enjoy for years to come.  It was a privilege for me work with these students who gave up their Saturday and worked solidly throughout the day to achieve their aims – even in the rain!  Well done and thank you all!.

 DSCN1299

Claire – Volunteer Co-ordinator

Picture this….

ORIGINAL BROWNIE

Tullie staff’s interaction with visitors is often memorable; I never cease to be amazed at the turns our conversations with visitors can take.  Recently in Old Tullie House, a very elderly man and his grown-up granddaughter appeared.  We started talking about the Pre-Raphaelite artists, but the conversation swung to how the young woman was about to start the third year of her degree in photography as fine art.

Her course was heavily film-based; that’s to say very little digital and lots of rolls and sheets of film and long, absorbing hours of darkroom work.  The grandfather’s love of photography had infected her, and she was taking an opportunity he had never had.  He was clearly bursting with pride and was overjoyed that she understood film.

There’ll be plenty now who have never seen a roll of film but will doubtless have seen a film camera – maybe in a junk shop or car boot sale or in the back of that rarely-opened drawer.

Recently I started a trawl through the cameras in the Tullie collection, improving their descriptions on our database.  It was interesting to see how many of the very old simple cameras are still fully functional, and to be reminded how solidly even some of the cheapest of them were built.  Of course “cheap” is relative.

They deserve attention, after all these old cameras were in at the beginning of popular photography and are the devices that gave us our most detailed social record.  This year the People of Earth are expected to take well in excess of one TRILLION photos.

What surprised me a little was that more than half the 90-or-so cameras in the collection turned out to be Kodak-made.  They are mostly the cameras of the “common man” (although for years Kodak’s advertising deigned to acknowledge that even a woman could take a photo). They are also of a time when photography was still something quite special.  The majority are box and folding cameras, the earliest about 1898, the latest about 1984, with the 70s and 80s represented by the odd Instamatic and one or two cine cameras. There are no what you would call “good” modern cameras. There are a few amazing pieces of machinery in the collection.  But a, or better, THE stand-out camera of the lot is this model of simplicity pictured here.

This unassuming black box camera is the camera that took photography into the price-bracket of the ordinary person.  This is THE Kodak Brownie of 1900-1901.  The one-dollar camera.  That was about five shillings, or 25p, in Britain then.  Add another dollar and you could buy a Brownie and a film AND get it processed and probably get fish and chips for two with the change*.

Kodak made 245,000 original Brownies from February 1900 to October 1901. They were wooden boxes with a mostly cardboard interior (check out the picture – you almost feel you could make one at home).

They had a simple metal rotary shutter and took just half a dozen pictures 6cm square on 117-size roll film.  The small box on top of the camera is a reflecting viewfinder, which could be bought as an accessory.  Without it the user had to almost imagine what would be in the photograph using two lines marked on the camera body as a reference.

The Brownie is fully functioning, and in remarkable condition taking into account its age, construction and the amount of use it could have had.

*Fish and chips in 1901, say 3d or a bit less maybe?  So taking inflation into account, about £1.50 each now?

Andy Whysall – Curatorial Assistant

Volunteers – Working with collections

Helping give access to collections

21115_1Collections Access is a new, exciting strand of volunteering projects working with collections.  These activities help the museum make better use of stored material and make them more available to greater numbers of people.

The Head of Collections and Programming Andrew Mackay tells us a little more about the background to the projects:

“Tullie House has outstanding collections – we know because we are regularly told by this by external experts. There is very little point in having such important collections if we do not share them, so Tullie House has made a commitment to making the collections more accessible and we are delighted that we are able to work together to develop a range of collections based projects with a dedicated team of volunteers.

The ideal arrangement sees projects being developed that benefit both the museum and our volunteers. The volunteer provides time, enthusiasm, knowledge and commitment in exchange for hopefully developing their own skills and understanding by working closely on the collections with specialist museum staff. The collections become more accessible (and therefore more usable) by being catalogued, photographed, better stored and researched.

An ongoing project is undertaking an inventory of all of the archaeology stored at Shaddon Mill. This essential work allows the museum to better understand what it has in store (which in turn can help with exhibitions, research and engagement activities) and it also provides key information which will help assess future storage requirements.

We are therefore very grateful to the volunteer workforce for being so committed to helping make our collections more accessible. Without this invaluable help the level of engagement activity we can deliver by using the collections at Tullie would be so much harder to achieve.” 

191015 (5)Over the last few months two further projects have begun.  The Costume Collections Audit is a project to condition check and ensure correct data for every single item in the costume store.  The team has also been involved in preparing the costume for the Pages From History exhibition opening on 14 November which we’re all excited to be sharing with visitors.

Secondly, the First World War project is bringing together documentation, images and research for the major Carlisle at War exhibition opening in autumn 2016.  We’ve already found some telling and often poignant images of many different people involved in the war effort, not just service personnel.  These images give me (and hopefully other non-specialists too) a different and locally-focused perspective on this tumultuous period of history.

Kirsty, a volunteer on both projects says:

“It’s given me a real insight in the work behind the scenes of the museum that you don’t get as a visitor.  It’s great experience too for helping me get a job in museums after my Masters degree.”

kirsty31115 (2)Not only is Kirsty benefiting from this experience but she is helping Tullie maintain the collections for future generations.

If you’ve been inspired and we’d be delighted to welcome you to the team .  If would like to get more involved with these projects or volunteering then please visit the volunteering page.  Here you can sign up to our mailing list that lets you know about all projects first, more information about our existing projects and how to join the team.  We’d love to welcome you.

 

Claire, Volunteer Co-ordinator

Tullie Whale Tale Part I

Follow the story of our whale skeleton here: discover how he or she was found, her journey to the Museum, and follow the, as yet to be written, story of how she will settle in.

Image 1

One of the things that I love about my job is that I’m lucky enough to go home and say things like “I cleaned a whale today!” Recently, Stephen Hewitt (previous Natural Sciences Curator) and myself created a buzz in the Museum, as we unloaded our newest addition to the ‘family’: a whale skeleton.

The whale was found washed up on Drigg Beach, Ravenglass (Cumbria) in February 2014, grabbing local headlines (e.g.  News and Star[1]).  The discovery was made by Edna Kennedy, from Eskdale who is reported to have saying, “at first we weren’t sure what it was but, as we got closer, we could see it was huge“.

Although initially identified as a fin whale by the Marine Conservation Society, Dr Emily Baxter of the Cumbria Wildlife Trust re-identified the specimen as a sei (pronounced  “say” or “sigh”) whale (Balaenoptera borealis) (which has to be confirmed by the Museum).  This strange name (sei) comes from the Norwegian word for Pollock, which it is often found with in Norway [2]

So how did this whale end up on one of our beaches?

This young individual (we can tell it is a sub-adult from the degree of fusion in the bones) may have become separated from its small pod (sei often travel in groups of up to 5 individuals) as it was migrating from its winter grounds further south (north-west Africa, Spain and Portugal) to its northern summering grounds (typically off Shetland, Faroes, Norway and Svalbard)[3].

What we do know is that this endangered species[4]  is a very rare Cumbrian visitor —most records from the British Isles come from deeper waters from their northern summer grounds.

To give you an idea of what this fantastic specimen looked like in its former life: sei can reach up to 15 m in length3 (this juvenile would have been a few metres shorter).  It is a baleen whale with long comb-like plates, instead of teeth, hanging from the upper jaws; an ingenious adaptation for capturing krill and other plankton through straining vast quantities of water in a single ‘gulp’.  However, unlike other baleen whales, this blue-grey species has an erect, dolphin-like dorsal fin, and a distinctive single ridge along the snout (distinguishing it from the similar Bryde’s whale [5]).

Image 2

So back to the story: it took several months of negotiation before a team of four, including Steve Hewitt, could recover the decaying gargantuan carcass (with the permission from Muncaster Estate, Natural England and Copeland District Council).  By August, 2014 the carcass had decayed considerably.  The once familiar outline of the whale was now gone and although one half of the lower jaw had been removed, the now exposed skeleton remained largely intact and plans were made to rapidly recover the bones.  Almost disastrously, a storm struck in the intervening days and the team arrived to find the whale – gone! However searching further around the point eventually led to a trail of detached vertebrae and eventually, to the main part of the skeleton which had been rolled along the beach by the sea.  This meant that the front part of the skull had become detached and only half of it was found.  However, most of the remaining skeleton apart from a few vertebrae may be that other people picked up some of the missing bones and if so the Museum would be very pleased to hear from them.

So what next?  Now we needed to clean the bones and remove all the grease and remaining fragments of tissue, so that the specimen could (hygienically) enter our Museum collection.  So how did we do this?  Perhaps some kind of immersion in laboratory acid?  No, we did this naturally!  That is we buried the bones in raised beds of sand, to let natural bacteria, insects and other invertebrates, complete the decomposition process and expose our ‘prize’ (albeit, with the help of some manure to speed things along).

Meanwhile, at the Museum, all kinds of rumours and intrigue were building in the run-up to the long-awaited whale.  “Have you heard about the whale?”  often popped up into many conversations.  Indeed, I often encounter many exciting things in the depths of collection areas, but I was particularly excited to actually see the whale.

And so on Thursday, October 8 2015, Stephen Hewitt drove up with the first instalment of the whale skeleton in the back of his car (the rest, still buried, needs a while longer for the slow cleaning process and will require a considerably bigger vehicle to transport it!).  Being a curator desensitises you somewhat from the fact that each bone was coated with a thick layer of muck.  As we began to clean the bones with a high-pressure water jet, I realised that my choice of clothes for that day was quite poor.  But although the jet-stream had to be powerful enough to displace the envelope of ‘muck’ encasing each specimen, it did not harm the bones- in fact we need to clean them again.  It’s a painstaking job but (apart from being actually quite fun!) is necessary before they can properly enter the collection.

Image 3

So I’m afraid now you will have to eagerly await for next instalment, in several months, when we can recover the rest of the skeleton.

So stay tuned for my next whale tale post…  But in the meantime please feel free to leave a comment…

By Simon Jackson

Curator of Natural Sciences

[1] News and Star, Thursday, 20 February, 2014, updated Friday, 21 February, 2014

[2] Office of Protected Resources: NOAA Fisheries http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/mammals/cetaceans/seiwhale.htm

[3] Atlas of Cetacean Distribution in North-West European Waters.  Compiled and edited by Reid, J B, Evans, P G H, Northridge, S P (Joint Nature Conservation Committee 2003)

[4] The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Balaenoptera borealis http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/2475/0 (as accessed 19 October, 2015)

[5] Encyclopaedia of Life http://eol.org/pages/328572/overview

Volunteers – Exhibitions Summer Placement

After many registrations were received to be the Summer Exhibitions Placement volunteer, we were delighted that Vanessa decided to join us. Here are her reflections on her completed placement.

Me hard at work

Me hard at work

In August I moved back to Carlisle after recently graduating with a degree in History of Art. Keen to get some hands-on experience within a museum/art gallery environment, I applied for the Summer Placement internship advertised on the Tullie House website. Meeting with Amy, the Exhibitions Programming Manager, I was happy to learn that the placement was very flexible; it could fit around my other commitments and could even be suited to my own particular interests (being the art and costume departments in particular.) The placement began a few weeks later and took place over two days- one would be focused on costume research with the exhibitions team, and the other day would be spent carrying out the costume audit alongside a team of volunteers.

The costume research was mostly computer-based and enabled me to utilise the skills I gained during my degree in a practical way. It involved studying the phases and major developments in fashion over the past two hundred years, and then cross-referencing these with the items in the museum’s costume collection in order to create a shortlist of clothes, shoes and accessories that best demonstrated these developments for an upcoming exhibition.

I was able to work independently and continuously on the same project so I was able to really get stuck-in, meeting regularly with Amy and the exhibitions team to ensure that I was on the right track.

Inside the costume store

Inside the costume store

 

The costume audit, on the other hand, has exposed me to an entirely new set of skills that are invaluable to my CV, from handling museum items to creating new records on the internal database, not to mention getting to paw through wonderful items of clothing that at times date all the way back to the eighteenth century!

Sophie assessing the 1920s shoes

We are currently going through the costume store box by box, inspecting the contents, ensuring they are recorded properly and are packaged so that they will be preserved for years to come. This is an ongoing project and one that I have continued to be a part of, as each week I build upon my costume knowledge and gain experience in a range of everyday tasks involved working behind the scenes in an art gallery and museum.

1900 hat with full taxidermied bird

1900 hat with full taxidermied bird

 

Kirsty in the cotsume store

Kirsty in the costume store

I would certainly recommend the Summer Placement to anyone else that has graduated and is looking to gain practical experience within the arts sector, especially as Amy and her team were so accommodating in fitting me in, and there is so much scope for what you can get involved in depending on your interests.

You did an amazing job and you’re an asset to the team.  Thank you for all your hard work!  Claire

The Family Friendly Museum Award 2015: The Winner

Some brilliant words from Jack about our recent win at Kids in Museums – a great blogger about museums – thank you Jack!

Jack's Adventures in Museum Land

The scores are in, the families have spoken, and the time has come to crown a new holder for the title of Most Family Friendly Museum in the UK. Previous winners have included museums such as the wonderful Horniman Museum in South London, the Haselmere Educational Museum in Surrey and everyone’s favourite conjoined museums, the Pitt Riverls and the Oxford University Natural History Museum.

Kids in Museums

That list alone should give you an idea of the level of overall awesome-ness that families and the team at Kids in Museums are looking for in their winners. The winners would have to be awesome, because this is the biggest museum award in Britain and the only one to give a powerful voice to families.

Before I tell you who won, I’d like to remind everyone of the shortlist from the length and breadth of the country:

View original post 290 more words

Amy’s Care Poems

Our Sky Map project continues with some great poems written by our Amy’s Care group for those with Dementia.

You can read some of the poems here and visit Tullie House in November to see the Sky Map in place!

Cumbria Sky Map

An anthology of the poems written by the group during their first session.

It’s Cooler at the Top

Glaramara, Cat Bells
Walking up hills
First of August
A lovely warm day
Borrowdale, Ashness Bridge
Past a tea shop in Grange

Can be cooler at the top
A change in weather
A change in altitude

In winter, you’ll need gloves
Brenda must’ve been keen
To go up Helvellyn
In the winter

Tullie House/Amy’s Care: Helen’s Poem September 1st 2015

Owls

Owls, owls
Pictures and placemats

Owls, clouds
When the frost comes

Stay warm
Quilts, jackets

Clouds, wool
Chill proof


Tullie House/Amy’s Care: Jeanette’s poem September 1st 2015

Jeanette’s Poem #2

Smouldering sky,
High, bright
Up into the clouds

Rain drops
Wet to the skin

Over the hill
Shrouded in cloud
Eye-kissing light
Twelve-winded sky
Tullie House/Amy’s Care: Jeanette’s Poem #2 September 1st 2015

Olive’s Poem

Feel it in your bones
Smile

View original post 62 more words

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