Friday, 27 March 2015

The Car Boot Museum

I am thrilled to announce that my project The Car Boot Museum has been selected for the Momentum Open Call for the 2015 Somerset Art Weeks. Fans of strange museums, the secret stories of objects and personal collections, as well as experimental text and site-specific projects should enjoy it. It's definitely one for any Museeme readers... For more details click here!

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

The Chancery of Lost and Found

Anyone interested in a broad creative exploration of the idea of museums, archives and collections might enjoy my upcoming installation The Chancery of Lost and Found that will be open throughout the Bath International Literature Festival the first week of March 2015. Working in conjunction with my Young Writers' Lab and based on the idea of an archive of objects, stories and memories both real and imaginary people are invited to come and contribute, bring in an object or old photo or piece of ephemera with meaning, write their own fictional version of the city of Bath... It should be like walking into a multi dimensional version of Bath - alive and evolving with every visitor, celebrating the ordinary, the strange, the personal and the fantastical - uncovering the essence of the city for each inhabitant. There will also be school workshops and hopefully a performance. More details can be found here

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Secret City - The Edwardian Cloakroom, Bristol - 13th-19th October 2014.

Me and my friend Ana are very excited as it is nearly time for our residency at The Edwardian Cloakroom in Bristol. Here is a blurb I wrote about it and the flyer. Also please contact me if you would be interested in bringing any school or community groups in for a free workshop. Please also note there will be a performance at 7pm on Saturday 18th October. Please drop by - there will be lots of interest for those of a collecting, alternative exhibition, archive persuasion!

Secret City is a collaborative, evolving, drop-in writing installation that will be created over the week of the 13th of October in the Edwardian Cloakroom (Woodland Road/Park Row) by the writers Alice Maddicott and Ana Seferovic with help from members of the Bristol public. Alice and Ana will be resident in the cloakroom, spending the whole week creating work inspired by the setting, its atmosphere, history and the surrounding area, as well as old photos and objects, playing with the conventions of found notes, lists, graffiti and anonymous messages to create an immersive archive of writing that will transform the cloakroom as the week progresses. Members of the public, as well as any school or community groups who are interested, are invited to drop by and contribute to the installation, leaving their own stories, memories, creative interpretations to help build this evolving body of site-specific work. The residency will culminate in a performance on Saturday 18th (7pm - time to be confirmed) where people are invited to come back and read their work from the installation, as well as listen to Alice, Ana and local musicians. The installation will also be documented to form an archive of imagination and interpretation - of thought rather than fact - that will hopefully allow the project to continue to evolve after its physical completion.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

The Hidden Memorial Park of Self Sacrifice.

Though I am currently very rural, I have had 3 or 4 periods when I lived in London, 3 of those close to The City. But when I was visiting a friend the other week we went on an explore (via the Museum of London, which I would recommend anyone to go to - great costume collection - I love the Regency pleasure gardens exhibit!), and she showed me this place which I had never seen before.

Like so many gems in London this memorial is hidden in a small park. I would have only have found without being shown if I had happened to stumble into that little park - it doesn't announce it is there, it is just quietly memorialising in a way which suits the everyday immensity of what it represents. Underneath an unassuming wooden awning there are a number of ceramic plaques in memory of ordinary people who lost their lives trying to save others - relatives or strangers - they sacrificed themselves. I found this place hugely moving - its understated quality highlighting even more the immensity of these actions. There is little more I can say, other than that I am happy that this collection of memorials exists. I will upload some photos to expand this memorial in some little way, and let you experience a little of it yourself in case you never stumble across it.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

The Wayside Museum and Trewey Mill - Zennor.

My friend Emily came to stay last week and we spent a lovely time driving around Cornwall's far west - my favourite part I have to say. I know this part of the world very well and I would recommend anyone explore its stunning coastline full of hidden valleys, remote farms, old mines, standing stones and bronze age boulder walls, but when we stopped at Zennor to go for a walk, eat more cake and look at the beautiful ancient carved mermaid in the church (15th century and do research the folk tale!)
I finally went into the small Wayside Museum. I'd always noticed the sign for this small museum, hanging next to an old working waterwheel, but somehow never had the time when I was there to explore properly. The museum is certainly in one of the most stunning positions of any in England, situated in a 16th miller's cottage and old (yet still working!) watermill, nestling into the rugged coast staring out over the Atlantic.

You enter the museum through the shop which is well equipped with souvenirs and a good selection of books about and based in Cornwall. It also sells local Moomaid of Zennor ice cream - you've got to love ice cream that is both site-specific and involves a pun - and organic flour milled on the premises. We were welcomed by a really friendly lady and the entrance was reasonable at £3.95 for adults. Children cost £2.95, which includes a quiz trail to follow. There are also family tickets available. Leaving the shop we walked through the lovely garden to the first building, and then followed the advised route through a network of mill buildings to the cottage. I really loved the feeling of exploring this conjured - how I was never quite sure when I was going to find another building and what it might contain. There was a real sense of adventure to this - also the museum is much larger than I had guessed from outside!

In terms of what was on display there was everything to do with local residents since 3000 BC to the 1950s! There are 5000 artifacts from prehistoric boulders, to milling and farming equipment, displays about local residents, ancient washing machines, packaging, photos, the actual mill itself, tools - there's too much to list really, but it was all very interesting. Two of my favourite things were the charm stick hanging above the fire place in the cottage - the story here is that if devils came down the chimney during the night they would become transfixed by the bubbles in the glass and you could just wipe them off with a cloth in the morning! - and I also loved some of the stories about local characters. These included a man who'd had I think 27 children as a competition and another about a local poet who liked writing about death and destruction. I have tried to include photos of some of this text, but I only had my phone in a darkened room so I don't know how legible they are... There were also some great photos of Cornish grannies. I also loved seeing the working water wheel outside. All in all it was a really great impromptu museum visit and I would recommend tearing yourself away from the stunning landscape for a minute to learn a bit about the fascinating human history of this remote bit of England as well. It's eccentric and lovely and the effort in collecting such a vast selection of items covering such a long span of time is very impressive and worth paying respect to. Do go to the church to say hello to the mermaid too though! Or morveren as they call them in these parts...

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

The World of Model Railways - Mevagissey.

These days when people talk about collectors and how collections can create a whole different world for the collector, they often refer to those of the Comicon persuasion and the escaping into a ready made fantasy world. But I've always been more fond of the homemade, and for me the ultimate example of homemade worlds in model collecting is those of the thousands of dedicated model railway enthusiasts. Now I have a confession to make straight away, which society would say goes against my age and gender - I really want a train set - have done for ages - I'd go the whole hog and have a room dedicated to my own crazy train set diorama and it would probably involve dinosaurs and imaginary cities, and most certainly go around the wall like a rollercoaster, and I'd really want a monorail and chair lift. And a volcano and a secret garden. And the amazing thing is if I had the space there is no reason why I couldn't do this - model railways enable us to collect the objects we're fascinated with, i.e. trains, and then bring them to life in a living diorama - the dioramas of the giant collections of the pre 19th century might have done this, but these days they rarely do. With all this in mind I set off for the small fishing town of Mevagissey to visit somewhere I had always seen the sign for and wondered about - The World of Model Railways...

Founded by Arthur Howeson and opened to the public in 1971, the World of Model Railways is situated in an old pilchard plant up a side street in Mevagissey. It was instantly popular and at a time without many purpose built visitor attractions in Cornwall there were queues down the street! It was a little quieter when I went but I was glad as it meant I could get a really good look at Arthur's railway world. 

Built in three sections over time, the main railway display loops round a dividing wall leading the visitor through the world. (There is also a later built diplay of a railway one could make ouside, also using Thomas the Tank Engine to appeal to kids, but I'm going to focus on the main display). We move through town and countryside - there are garages, stations, markets, even a wonderful china clay pit display making it very local! I loved the details - all the people and movement - the events enfolding such as fires waiting to be put out, barges on water or horses playing. At the end the display builds towards an amazing Alpine scene, with yes a chairlift! There's even handgliders! I love how the display's narrative element enables us to make up our own stories about what's going on, and for me echoes the real experience of sitting on a train and watching the world go by - it crystallises those glimpses of other lives and parts of countries we only get to briefly see. I also loved the display cabinets or Arthur's other locomotives and the circus display, which reminded me of the model circus I used to have that was one of my most prized toys when younger. (There was also a somewhat esoteric display of the results of a ferrero rocher box diorama competition - I find such things quite splendid, but it also illustrates one of the joys of small museums and personal collections for me - you get to see the quirks that would be left out of larger institutions, but maybe would have been in a magpie collection of the past - there is a real sense of the personal, but also a community of enthusiasts...).

Reading about the history of its construction I loved discovering that an army of local lads helped out, making this a real community project. I was greeted by really friendly older men (who liked my train skirt I was wearing in honour of my visit) and I wonder now whether they could have been some of the men who helped build it originally. They were certainly knowledgeable and there was a great model shop that doubles as the entrance.  The railway was sold in the '90s and six months later Arthur passed away. This was when things such as the Thomas outdoor display were added to appeal to a more commercial audience, but whilst now being run more as a business I do not believe that the railway can have lost much of its original scope and charm. This still comes across as the work of real enthusiasts - people who really care about model railways - and I hope it will stay that way for generations to come.

More details can be found at
I apologise for the bad camera phone in a dark room photos!

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Found window museum of the day - Fowey.

When pottering around Fowey, Cornwall, yesterday afternoon I passed this! It's just someone's private collection they've chosen to display for passers by. museeme applauds such things! I apologise for the bad quality reflecting camera phone photography... Dinky toys, telephones, and there were some lovely old coins and stamps in the corner that I just couldn't get a clear photo of. I nearly knocked at the door as I nosily peered inside and there was a lot more!