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 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!
“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’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
“My Mum was in the paper when she got married in 1964. She was on the front page.”
Almost forty years later The Cumberland News would remember Paula’s intrepid grandmother
“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.”
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.
One of our visitors worked with Ben, or as we find out, Andy, and shares some of his memories with us.
“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.
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.
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.
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:
- Social mix
- 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!.
Claire – Volunteer Co-ordinator
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!
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
Pictures and placemats
When the frost comes
Jeanette’s Poem #2
Up into the clouds
Wet to the skin
Over the hill
Shrouded in cloud
Tullie House/Amy’s Care: Jeanette’s Poem #2 September 1st 2015
Feel it in your bones
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Our work with Amy’s Care on the Cumbria Sky Map continued last week with an art session, see what they got up to on the new blog post.
Last week was our second session with the Amy’s Care group at Tullie House, and our first artist session with Alex.
We were excited to see the Sky Map parasol, which is currently being painted lovely cloudy shades of blue by the other groups. Can’t wait to see what it looks like when it’s finished, and everyone’s artwork gets added!
We also looked at the map, which the other groups have added to with things from their sessions. We’re hoping to see the Carlisle section later today.
The Kendal group also sent us a lovely message from their session. It was great to hear how they’ve been getting on.
This week we were painting eagle eggs, based on what looking at the real ones last week.
Alex showed us how to make lovely speckles and textures with wax crayons and watercolours, and we were a very productive…
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Eloise and Catherine have been working with Amy’s Care and our other CMC venues to bring the Cumbrian Sky Map project to life – read about it here
‘Sun, sea and the sky; kites birds and clouds.’…as Helen said; ‘the clouds often come out in the Summer as well as in the Autumn! But the time has really flown by this week as the season changes. We certainly were talking about flight in our first session last week we had our very first session at Tullie House, working with the Amy’s Care Group.
We had a very creative afternoon, looking at some of our objects, including the beautiful Golden Eagle Eggs used by Artist Uta Kogelsberger for her project. We all thought they were quite big, and it was interesting to look at how different the two eggs were. One was white and the other was very speckled. Andy even thought that the egg looked a bit like Alastair!
‘Big, speckled, golden brown, they fly and hatch. Fluffy like a baby hamster!’- Jeanette
We also spent some time…
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Andrew, our Head of Collections and Programming recently traveled to China with our Learning and Engagement Manager Anna, who has written a blog about working with a couple of museums on how to engage with children and young people.
After Anna headed back to the UK, Andrew stayed in China to experience some more of the country’s rich heritage and culture. He’s written a short blog to let us know what he got up to.
…after leaving Anna in Suzhou I traveled to Shanghai, then flew 856 miles to Xi’an, home of the famous Terracotta Warriors, and then took a five hour bus journey (of only 215 miles) through the mountains to the small city (only 3.5m residents!) of Tianshui in Gansu Province.
I intended to visit Tianshui to experience what was described as the ‘Silk Road Festival’ but what turned out to be an annual celebration of Fuxi (pronounced Foo-she), the ‘founder’ of Chinese culture. Fuxi is a cultural hero in China credited with creating humanity and the invention of hunting, fishing and cooking as well as Ying & Yang and the system of writing Chinese characters.
Tianshui also has several museums and I visited three. The Folk Art Museum is located in a traditional Chinese house which comprises several rooms around open courtyards. The museum displayed historic artefacts in their original setting so the kitchen had material from the Quing Dynasty (nineteenth century) and the bedroom had a period box bed and so on. In addition to the roomsets the museum also had a room for showing shadow puppet performances and a theatre for showing traditional Chinese Opera.
The City Museum is linked to the Fuxi temple and has hugely impressive archaeology and history collections but has very little by way of interpretation or engagement – it seems that visitors are expected to know or understand a certain amount of history, which may be true for local people but is certainly not the case when it comes to international visitors.
I met with Mr Lee the museum’s Director and gave a presentation on Tullie House to his staff. Mr Lee explained that the museum (which is roughly the same size as Tullie House) has 200 staff (Tullie has less than 50) and attracts about 30,000 visitors per year (Tullie has 270,000). Mr Lee showed me the museum’s new temporary exhibition gallery which was displaying a collection of artwork from a famous but recently deceased Chinese artist (which I wasn’t allowed to photograph). The aim was to attract new or repeat visitors to the museum through the temporary exhibition programme. However, Mr Lee felt that this first exhibition wasn’t necessarily a success.
The third museum I visited was directly opposite the Folk Art Museum and was owned by the City Council but run through a management agreement by the Shan family. Mr Shan Snr is a highly regarded artist and successful businessman and his son (my host for the week) runs a business from Guangzhou promoting artists and cultural projects. Mr Shan’s museum is, like the Folk Art Museum, located in an historic house. It features artwork and a fabulous historic book collection but it is also significantly lacking collections and any real purpose. The Shan’s have therefore asked Tullie House for their ideas on how the museum might develop. There may well be more to report on this in the future…
Andrew Mackay, Head of Collections and Programming
Tullie House’s work with museums in China is ongoing – keep an eye out for exciting partnerships and events coming up!
As we’re in the middle of national volunteer week, we thought it was a great opportunity to celebrate and offer a very warm and heartfelt thank you to the 59 volunteers who have contributed to Tullie House over the last year.
Your support over the last 12 months has made a real difference to the 250,000 visitors who enjoy and learn from your museum.
Tullie House has volunteers?
Many don’t realise that Tullie House is a charity, and along with most other charities it welcomes the support of volunteers. There are a number of services that we could not offer if people were not prepared to give up their time. Volunteers form an integral part of our team and work and show us that successful volunteering isn’t just about getting a job done but it’s about local people getting involved with their museum and supporting their community.
How do volunteers help?
Over the past 12 months volunteers have supported the museum in so many ways. In the early part of the year 12 volunteers met with our visitors to carry out surveys to find out about their time in the museum. The information gathered is being used by us to make sure we’re providing the services people want.
Towards the end of the year, we started a new project to inventory over 8000 boxes of archaeological material. Through their work our team of seven volunteers are helping us plan for future collection needs and find the next treasures to go on display.
We also have many long-serving volunteers who give their time tirelessly to keep our gardens lovely for all to enjoy and our longest serving volunteer who has contributed regularly for over 25 years to catalogue our collections.
In addition, there are volunteers who help deliver activity sessions for visitors in the museum, and those behind the scenes at the Cumbria Biodiversity Diversity Centre. In my new quarterly blog posts I’ll introduce you to the volunteers we have at Tullie House and the difference they make to our museum and the communities we serve.
Volunteering is a way of joining in and making a difference. It’s also a great way for volunteers to develop and share skills. So if you’ve been inspired and would like to get involved or find out more please visit our website.
To all our current and previous volunteers: thanks for all that you do, whether it’s out in the garden on a rainy Tuesday, creating inventories of our thousands of boxes of archaeological collections or meeting visitors to find out about their time in the museum; we wouldn’t want to do it without you.
Claire, Volunteer Co-ordinator
As our ARTIST ROOMS Anselm Kiefer exhibition enters its final weeks we are unveiling some brilliant creative responses from groups that we have been working with – you can see these in the flesh by visiting Tullie House.
Starting in the reception area we have an impressive display of torsos created during workshops with NACRO and Carlisle Key – two local organisations working with young people.
The workshops explored identity a key theme in Kiefer’s works. The young people thought about what makes us who we are, and how much of that is linked to a ‘national identity’.
They range from being a celebration of the music they enjoy, the colours that make them smile, or a tribute to lost loved ones.
The Tullie Toddlers were even inspired by the work of of our young people and created their own mannequin!
As well as the mannequins our Community Room is playing host to a large scale mixed media piece created by visitors to our Kiefer inspired Museums at Night event. The Mob Masterpiece uses some of Anselm Kiefer methods and media, and was created over the evening.
Many hands make art work!
The work our family visitors created during February Half Term inspired by the exhibition is also still on display in the Community Room.
As well as art works some of the young people we work with have also developed an innovative new gallery trail. Kiefer2Music explores the use of music and song lyrics as a way to express their thoughts and feelings about Kiefer’s work. You can check out the blog here https://kiefertomusic.wordpress.com/ or use your phone or tablet in the exhibition to experience the music and art works together!
That isn’t all – we have one more exciting response project to come. Local school James Rennie have been working with Prism Arts to develop an exhibition of creative responses to the Kiefer exhibition which will be on display in our garden from the 27 May!
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!
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.
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.