Archive for April, 2014

BBC Countryfile screens local craft maker restoring the Atkinson’s shrimp cart

Sunday, April 20th, 2014

The Atkinson holds a shrimping cart in its collection that has recently been conserved by local craftsman Phill Gregson. This cart will be going onto display in the new museum space in 2015 along with associated objects. The plan was always to take the newly restored cart out for one last fishing trip before it went onto display which would be filmed and the story played onto screens in the gallery. However, a couple of months back, the BBC’s Countryfile got involved. They filmed Phill at his workshop making and hooping new wheels for the vehicle, filmed the new wheels being put on in the foyer of the Atkinson and then the actual fishing on Ainsdale Beech. This footage will  was shown on Sunday the 13th of April on BBC 1 at 7pm.

Shrimping is an ancient tradition in Southport with a rich heritage. At the last count there was approximately 30 people still involved in shrimping. In the early 1900’s there was 300. Southport is thought good for shrimping as the water is very sandy.  The people who carry out shrimping are locally called shankers.

IN PROFILE: The newly opened Kirkby Art Gallery, Knowsley

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

A review article written by Emma Sumner

Knowsley Council have made a huge cultural investment as part of their regeneration plans for Kirkby.  Recently opening the £5m purpose built Kirkby Centre, the council has transformed the old tired and dated building in to a modern fit-for-purpose facility where all its key services will be housed.  Most importantly, the centre contains the lustrous new state-of-the-art Kirkby Gallery.  Proof that Knowsley council places culture at the heart of their community offer and are serious about encouraging wider audiences. 

The opportunity the gallery re-location provided has been fully embraced by both the council and its committed Leisure and Culture team.  Persistently keeping in mind their ambition to work with other organisations and display works from national collections, the team pushed to ensure the new space would meet current museums standards. As a result, the gallery is versatile with movable walls and plush display cases and comes fully equipped with an environmental monitoring system, hi-tech security features and a lighting rig that would be the envy of any museum or gallery.  

The gallery’s inaugural exhibition examines the varied artistic processes of Pakistani born, Manchester raised artist Halima Cassell, whose work blends her Asian roots with a fascination for African pattern and architectural geometry.  An artist whose work encompasses various media and techniques, this is the first time all the different elements of her practice have been on display together.  The space is heaving with Cassell’s intense and playful work, as she explains; “It was a real honour to be asked to be the first artist to exhibit in Kirkby’s new gallery.  The space is so wonderful and uplifting; not your typical dusty council gallery.  The people of Kirkby are very lucky and I believe every town should have one”.

Cassell’s multicultural heritage is prevalent in the character of her work, but central to the exhibition is a series of newly commissioned works in concrete which look at Kirkby New Town’s architectural heritage.  Cassell explains; “I wanted to do something special as part of my solo exhibition which would help me to connect with the local audience.   The people of Kirkby are familiar with concrete as a material but I wanted to provide new ways of looking at concrete by creating something beautiful with it, especially as it so often receives such negative reactions.”  As part of the exhibition’s legacy, some of Cassell’s concrete commissions will be accessioned into the council’s fine art collection.  

With no plan of invidulation support for this or most of the forthcoming programme, the fear the gallery will simply become a display space hovers menacingly.  Yet with a strong sense of community within the Kirkby Centre and all building staff fully briefed on the gallery’s programme, there is little fear of this actually happening.  In fact, with effective cross-promotion and staff buy in it’s likely to be a far more effective system to encourage new audiences into the gallery. 

A real tribute to the investment the council has put into its cultural offer, the Kirkby Gallery is a space the town can be extremely proud of.  Central to Kirkby’s redevelopment plans the gallery provides a cultural ‘tip bit’ and will no doubt be an investment that will encourage Kirkby’s residents to make bolder cultural choices.

The Power of Partnerships- view the presentations from the Cumbria Museum Consortium conference

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

There has been a lot of discussion lately on the importance of partnerships within our sector and beyond. Following the NMDC meeting at the end of January on national partnerships and the ICOM Uk conference on international partnerships in London,  the Cumbria Museums Consortium organised the Power of Partnerships conference to reflect on current practices and to demonstrate the evidence of thriving new models of work. 

The event was well attended and it was a great opportunity to catch up with colleagues but I could not help thinking that there was scope to use the conference to perhaps explore new ways of working and facilitate more discussion among delegates. Perhaps a little reflection was needed on the ways forward especially when  most of the partnerships discussed are relying on ACE funding.

Out of all the presentations the one that really stood out for me because it conveyed the passion and the challenges of working outside your sector was Esme Ward’s  from the Manchester Museum and the Whitworth Art Gallery. Esme gave an honest account of the learning involved for all sides when working in new environments and with different professionals as well as the importance of a pragmatic approach to what works.

To view the presentations from the conference click here