museums

Inspire

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When I’m not blowing about on windy clifftops this Winter, I’m often to be found in a museum.  It was pure chance that took me into my local art gallery in Hartlepool this week.  So unprepared was I that I didn’t even have my camera with me!  It’s no longer a catastrophe when I have my phone handy, but I do have to apologise for the quality of the photos.

Inspire is an exhibition comprised of wire mesh sculptures and photographs of local athletes, or aspiring ones.  It was the efforts of the disabled nephew of a friend of mine, competing in a local triathlon with his Dad, that brought the venture to my attention.  As often happens, I was delighted with what I found.

Suspended beneath the timbered ceiling

Suspended beneath the timbered ceiling

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Diving gracefully floorwards

And into the light

And into the light

Michelle Castles is the lady responsible for the life-sized mesh sculptures.  She graduated from the University of Sunderland and it’s always good to see local talent so beautifully showcased.

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Hartlepool Art Gallery lives in what was formerly Christ Church, and is a lovely venue in itself. You may remember Follow the Herring, an extraordinary exhibition of knitting I showed you last year? It’s always worth looking in on a museum.  You never know what you might find.

I’m linking to Paula’s Thursday Special again today.  Her theme is multi-coloured and I’m thinking that I’ve just got enough colour here to get away with it.

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A new exhibition

Magdalene Odundo exhibit, National Glass Centre

Magdalene Odundo exhibit,  National Glass Centre, Sunderland

Last week I suggested that it was a great time of year to visit museums.  One of my very favourites in the North East of England is the National Glass Centre at Sunderland.  I’m always excited to see the new creations and exhibitions.

The shot above is of Magdalene Odundo’s Transition II and you can see a video of its creation on the link.  It was captivating seen from any angle.

I love the shadows, rippling across the floor

I love the shadows, rippling across the floor

With the occasional flare of colour

With the occasional flare of colour

Of course, I couldn’t resist the lure of the display cabinets and the new items in there.

Isn't this a lovely piece?

Isn’t this a lovely piece?

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And, naturally. there were owls!

And joyful elephants- why not?

And joyful elephants- why not?

I imagine you can see just why I love going there.  Maybe we’ll pop in again on my Monday walk, next week.

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “New.”

Get on the museum trail!

Tea, anyone?

Tea, anyone?

It may be January, but that’s no reason to sit at home.  I’ve already seen my first snowdrops of the year but, if you don’t like the cold and the great outdoors, there’s plenty of entertainment to be found in museums.  My Monday walk Beside the Tees took me to a local favourite, Preston Park.  Best known for its Victorian Street, the museum is also packed full of titbits of history.

It’s quite fascinating to wander through your past.   My childhood was unexceptional but I rediscovered, with delight, a hand puppet of Muffin the Mule, and cardboard cutout dolls that kept a younger me engaged for many happy hours.  Baby dolls were so ugly in those days, with their nubbly heads and screwed up faces!

The rag rugs were all too familiar from our hearthside, and that modern contraption, a television set, had me chuckling.  The wavy lines on the screen just about made identifiable images, yet I remember being glued to a similar wiggly picture(or even the test card!)  Of course, you younger people won’t have a clue what I’m talking about.

Many a parent was engaged in the ‘how and the why’ of the exhibits, and I was not the only one to exclaim in joy over a recognition.  I featured many of the museum pieces in a previous post, so I won’t dwell too long on the past.  What I do want to show you is the exhibition space.

This is devoted to the Cleveland College of Art and Design and I found it fascinating to view the screen sets and the student’s work.  This intriguing creature greeted me at the entrance.

What a work of imagination and craftsmanship!  Step inside with me.

Isn't this backdrop lovely?

Isn’t this backdrop lovely?

With amazing intricacy

With amazing intricacy

I hope that you like what you’ve seen so far, but now it’s your turn.  You must have a local museum or two?  I’d love to see inside.  After all, I can’t hang about in the open all Winter, now can I?

You might have seen A little something extra?  It gave all the details of Cleveland College of Art’s connection to the museum.  Some of the work is amazing.

Well, I’m off out into the cold again now.  See you soon!

Gracious living, Victorian style

Your genial host, Robert Ropner

Your genial host, Robert Ropner

It’s always nice to be made welcome and Preston Park Museum  does this with real warmth and imagination.  There’s even a welcoming speech, delivered by our host, glass in hand.

Built in 1825, Preston Hall was purchased by wealthy shipping magnate Robert Ropner in 1882. Major alterations added a grand entrance porch and Winter Garden, ballroom and billiards room, the whole enclosed in beautifully landscaped gardens, befitting his social status.  Ropner served as Conservative MP for Stockton from 1900-1910.  Life was exceedingly grand and a fleet of servants kept the household running smoothly.

Ropner died, aged 85, in 1924 and the hall and park were subsequently purchased by Stockton Council.  Preston Hall Museum opened its doors to the public in 1953.  As a small girl I can remember being taken there.  The house itself was a warren of rooms, stuffed full of Victorian furniture, and with the addition of a Victorian street.

The museum was beginning to look a little tired when Stockton Council acquired funding for a massive renovation.  In 2012 there was a grand reopening.  I wasn’t at all sure what I would find.

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But I found myself immensely impressed.  The house was light and bright, with beautifully showcased and hugely varied exhibits.  Here are just a few of my favourites.

Fabulous pottery

Fabulous pottery

Beautiful glassware

Beautiful glassware

Exquisite fabrics and jewellery

Exquisite fabrics and jewellery

Exotic sword guards

Exotic sword guards

Delicate cameos

Delicate cameos

Remember the snuff box? Here's another!

Remember the snuff box from Six word Saturday? Here’s another!

Touches of humour illuminate the commentary as you walk through the house, nor are they the only source of illumination.

This stained glass is from a former Methodist church in Stockton

This stained glass is from a former Methodist church in Stockton

There is so much that I could share, but I don’t want to spoil it for you, in case you ever go there. It’s like a Pandora’s Box of Victoriana, with each room a new delight as you wind up through the house.  There’s a nod to shipping, on which Ropner built his fortune.  A local cabinet maker’s craft is showcased.  Even some worn but lovely Victorian scrapbooks are there.  I’d quite forgotten the art!

Naturally our railway heritage is celebrated.  This is the home of steam, and a famous journey took place locally on 27th September, 1825.

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Overall I felt really proud of our accomplishments here in the north east of England.  Afterwards I took myself for a stroll in the grounds and down to the River Tees.

I loved the reflections in the water and that hint of blue sky

I loved the reflections in the water and that hint of blue sky

The aviary used to be full of birds, now mysteriously flown!

The aviary used to be full of birds, all mysteriously flown!
I watched a remote control aeroplane for a while- can you spot it?

Then I watched a remote control aeroplane for a while- can you spot it?

This post is a follow up to my Six word Saturday and I’m afraid the subject isn’t quite closed yet. The Victorian Street will have to be a subject for another day.  Then there’s the Butterfly House, which doesn’t open until March.  You will come back, won’t you?

I almost forgot to say that admission to the museum costs just £2 (£1 if you’re a concession!) and includes return visits for a full year.  How about that for value?