SCARBOROUGH Museums Trust is among 13 museums and heritage organisations chosen to join a nationwide scheme to inspire museums to address matters such as climate change.
The No Going Back Peer Learning Programme is run by the Happy Museum Project, an Arts Council England-funded programme that looks at how the museum sector can respond to the challenge of creating a more sustainable future.
The programme aims to inspire museums and their communities to shape new stories and actions to address the climate and ecological emergency.
Christine Rostron, learning manager at Scarborough Museums Trust, says: “We are delighted to be given the chance to work with museum colleagues across the UK to help us think about how museums can work with local communities and respond positively to creating a sustainable future.
“We recognise that we operate in one of the most important coastal regions in Europe and are lucky enough to have extremely important geological and natural history collections.
“We are especially keen to use these objects to tell stories about the environment and support children to learn to love their natural surroundings and to be advocates for positive environmental change.
“In 2019, in partnership with Invisible Dust, we delivered Future Fossils, a learning project with a local primary school that demonstrated humans’ impact on our environment and supported children to become activists and advocates for our local environment.
“One Year 4 participant said: ‘It gave me confidence that by working together we can change the world. It’s not just for Scarborough, it’s something all young people around the world should do’.
“The Happy Museum Project will help us to build on and continue this type of work with our community.”
Andrew Clay, chief executive of Scarborough Museums Trust, says: “As a museum service working on the Yorkshire coast, we are committed to playing our part in protecting and raising awareness of the environment.
“We are also the custodians of a collection of significant environmental and scientific interest and we feel duty bound to make the collection fully available for vital research, and to help the trust itself move to a position where we embrace and declare a climate emergency.”
The 13 museums selected to take part range from the Cornwall Museums Partnership to Oriel y Parc National Park Visitor Centre and Landscape Gallery, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.
Participating too are Leeds Museums and Galleries, Saltaire World Heritage Education Association, Wakefield Museums and Castles and Yorkshire’s Maritime City project from Hull Culture and Leisure.
UNIQUE vintage photographs depicting Woodend, in its days as the private Scarborough summer home of the Sitwell literary family, have been donated to Scarborough Museums Trust by a descendant, journalist William Sitwell.
William is the grandson of writer Sacheverell Sitwell, who, together with brother Osbert and sister Edith, spent many summers at the house in The Crescent in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
The most famous of the three siblings, William’s great-aunt Edith, was born at Woodend in 1887. William writes for The Daily Telegraph, among other publications, and is a judge on BBC1’s MasterChef.
When clearing out family belongings, he came across photos that show Woodend, now a creative industries centre, in its heyday as a family home, with a spacious entrance hall, busy living rooms and a palm-filled glasshouse.
William Sitwell says: “I’ve visited Scarborough on many occasions and have always relished a trip to Woodend, now a creative hub run by a collection of talented people my ancestors would be proud of.
“But it’s always strange walking around a museum and wondering what it must have been like as a home, with the presence of my eccentric forebears. When I came across these old photographs, the settings looked familiar and then I realised they were of Woodend, fully furnished and looking very Victorian.
“I knew at once that they should be sent to Andrew Clay [chief executive of Scarborough Museums Trust], who would cherish them and share them with visitors. They bring a wonderful insight to a lost era.”
Clay says: “The vintage photographs of Woodend are delightful. We have often wondered what these rooms looked like when the Sitwell family lived here and now we have a tantalising glimpse of Woodend in that era.
“It is fascinating to see the beautiful furnishings that once adorned these spaces. They conjure up a long-lost age of elegance and remind us today how sophisticated life on The Crescent really was. We are very grateful to William Sitwell for making this gift and we look forward to keeping in touch.”
Scarborough Museums Trust’s venues – Scarborough Art Gallery, the Rotunda Museum and the Woodend Gallery – are closed during Lockdown 3, but the trust hopes to be able to put the photographs on public display as soon as possible.
SCARBOROUGH Museums Trust’s lockdown-launched series of New Digital Commissions from leading British artists is complete and available online.
The project was introduced by the trust in response to the first lockdown in March as a “dynamic new approach to its collections, learning and exhibition programming during the Coronavirus crisis”.
Key to the series was a commitment to diversity, inclusion and equality of access and innovative ways to promote this message. A diverse range of artists – Lucy Carruthers, Estabrak, Kirsty Harris, Wanja Kimani, Jade Montserrat, Jane Poulton and Feral Practice’s Fiona MacDonald – created digital artworks for release online over the spring and summer across social-media platforms.
Trust chief executive Andrew Clay says: “It’s been so important this year for people to have access to the arts and culture: for many people, they’re a thought-provoking lifeline and have a proven positive effect on our mental health.”
Curator Dorcas Taylor says: “Museums and galleries have a social responsibility to support communities, now more than ever before. We can provide a platform for creative expression that enables artists to share their messages to communities in lockdown. Their artworks can support personal wellbeing or become an opportunity to consider some of these wider issues.”
Scarborough Museums Trust has provided a range of access tools to accompany the digital content to support as many people as possible to connect. Among them have been visual guides, in the form of “social stories”, by Scarborough illustrator Savannah Storm that give audiences downloadable information on what to expect before accessing digital content. Subtitles and audio descriptions have been used wherever possible.
Lucy Carruthers’ film, Animal Archives: Rewilding The Museum explores how we forge connections at a time of distancing. Interested in the relationship between inside and outside, all the more pertinent during lockdown, she asks how social isolation affects museum objects.
Estabrak’s Homecoming: A Placeless Place is a multi-layered touring and participatory project that uses community engagement, film, sound and paint for cross-cultural exchanges around home, identity, and displacement.
It started in 2019 in Brighton and Hull and saw the social experiment, which invites honest expression and participation through ultraviolet light, invisible ink and dark spaces, introduced digitally to communities in Scarborough.
Kirsty Harris created Whispers From The Museum, a six-part online and immersive adventure for children and families, inviting them to read George’s logbook, discover amazing museum objects and take part in art and craft activities.
Wanja Kimani made a film, Butterfly, that follows a walk from a child’s eye view as she spent more time noticing the world around her and sensory experiences became amplified.
Jade Montserrat produced a film with filmmakers Webb-Ellis that explores the impact of lockdown and chronicles the process of making, and new ways of being, that encourage mutual support and acts of care.
Jane Poulton produced a series of photographs and text called From Stardust To Stardust, focusing on personal objects she owns as she considers whether those that mean the most to us are often acquired at times of crisis and what comfort they may bring.
Feral Practice’s film, The Unseesables, explores themes of extinction by focusing on three “unseeable” birds: the great bustard, the corncrake and the great auk. Examples of all three can be found in the trust’s taxidermy collection.
Some of the New Digital Commissions artists will be participating in What If? at Scarborough Art Gallery and the Rotunda from April 24 to August 30 2021.
Next year’s exhibition will explore “the civic responsibility of museums and their collections and how we could introduce wider narratives into our spaces to make our institutions relevant to both the world and our local community”.
SCARBOROUGH Museums Trust is introducing a dynamic approach to its collections, learning and exhibition programming with a series of new digital commissions from artists nationwide in response to the Coronavirus crisis.
The trust, in charge of Scarborough Art Gallery, the Rotunda Museum and Woodend, has been working with Flow Associates to develop a new way of working across the organisation.
This will involve using a method called the “Story of Change”; in a nutshell “defining the change you want before choosing the tools to achieve or measure it”.
Andrew Clay, the trust’s chief executive, says: “We want our work to make an impact. Defining that impact before we plan our exhibitions and wider programme means we can ensure we are relevant and responsive to our communities all the time.”
Key to this progression is a commitment towards diversity, inclusion and equality of access, leading to the trust finding innovative ways to promote this message.
A wide range of artists, among them Lucy Carruthers, Estabrak, Kirsty Harris, Wanja Kimani, Jade Montserrat, Jane Poulton and Feral Practice, have been asked to create digital artworks, to be released online over the next four months across myriad social media platforms.
Clay says: “It’s so important to have access to the arts and culture at this difficult time: for many people, they’re a thought-provoking lifeline and have a proven positive effect on our mental health.”
Simon Hedges, the trust’s head of curation, collections and exhibitions, says: “Museums and galleries have a social responsibility to support communities, now more than ever before.
“We can provide a platform for creative expression that enables artists to share their messages to communities in lockdown. Their artworks can support personal wellbeing or become an opportunity to consider some of these wider issues.”
As part of its commitment to access, the trust has been working with artistic producer Sophie Drury-Bradey and disability activists Touretteshero to ensure people with diverse minds and bodies can become more engaged in its work.
Hedges says: “Before the lockdown, we started to explore how access can be a creative stimulus for our projects and how to extend a warm welcome to our disabled communities.
“We’re now looking at the lockdown as an opportunity to continue this work and find creative and imaginative ways of ensuring people can access our digital content.”
The trust has committed to embrace a range of access “tools” to accompany the digital content to support as many people as possible to connect. Scarborough illustrator Savannah Storm, for example, will create visual guides, or “social stories”, to provide audiences with downloadable information on what to expect before accessing digital content.
Alongside this, subtitles will be used wherever possible, with audio descriptions to follow. The first Gallery Screenings Online event this evening at 7pm will incorporate a live Q&A session being accompanied by live captioning.
Audio descriptions will support children and families with visual access requirements for the first digital commission by Kirsty Harris, narrated by 11-year-old Ruby Lynskey, from Scarborough.
Supporting children and families to access content is important to the trust’s learning manager, Christine Rostron: “We’re looking at a range of ways to help families engage with the learning activities we’re about to launch online in fun, age-appropriate ways,” she says. “Using a local child to produce audio descriptions is much more relatable than the voice of an adult BBC presenter!”
The trust’s intention is to continue this work for the long term, as Clay reasons: “Being inclusive and accessible is not an add-on: it’s becoming part of our DNA.”
The artists involved in the New Digital Commissions project all will be participating in exhibitions at Scarborough Art Gallery and the Rotunda in 2021.
Lucy Carruthers will explore how we forge connections at a time of distancing. Her interest in the relationship between inside and outside is all the more pertinent during lockdown, wherein she asks how social isolation affects museum objects.
Estabrak’s Homecoming is a multi-layered touring and participatory project using community engagement, film, sound and paint for cross-cultural exchanges built around home, identity, and displacement.
The project started in 2019 in Hull and Brighton and now Estabrak will conduct the social experiment Homecoming: A Placeless Place, inviting honest expression and participation through ultraviolet light, invisible ink and dark spaces, introduced digitally to communities in Scarborough.
Kirsty Harris is constructing a new digital project for children and families during social distancing that imaginatively will bring to life objects in the trust collection to connect with children struggling with social isolation.
Wanja Kimani will be creating walking journeys from a child’s eye view as she spends more time noticing the world around her and her sensory experiences become amplified.
Jade Montserrat will consider the socio-political impact of lockdown and “encourage us to discover new ways of being based on mutual support, rather than a model that exacerbates existing social inequalities”.
Jane Poulton’s series of photographs and text will focus on personal objects she owns in order to consider whether those that mean the most to us are often acquired at times of crisis and what comfort they bring.
Feral Practice will develop a digital artwork leading to a major commission on the theme of extinction for 2021.
The new digital works will be available to view shortly via Scarborough Museums Trust’s:
THE New Light Prize Exhibition has been given the green light for 2020.
Turning the spotlight on northern art, this prestigious biennial event will
be held this autumn, despite the Coronavirus pandemic that has forced many arts
organisations into temporary closure.
Rebekah Tadd, development director at New Light, says: “We’re very fortunate that the way our exhibition is organised means we’re able to go ahead as planned.
“The submissions process all takes place online –
artists are invited to submit their works via our website by May 31 – and the
judging process takes place online during the summer.
“The physical exhibition, which launches at
Scarborough Art Gallery before going on tour to Carlisle, Newcastle and London,
isn’t until mid-September, so we hope that, by then, we can go ahead without
Celebrating its tenth anniversary in 2020, the exhibition will start at
Scarborough Art Gallery for the first time, running there from September 19 to
January 10 2021.
Andrew Clay, chief executive of Scarborough Museums
Trust, says: “We’re really looking forward to welcoming the New Light Prize
Exhibition to Scarborough Art Gallery.
“This exhibition’s policy of shining new light on northern
artists is one we firmly believe in, so we’re thrilled to be involved and to
able to support in this way.”
Judging this summer will be done by a panel of Royal Academy printmaker and artist Anne Desmet; RA Magazine editor Sam Phillips; Huddersfield Art Gallery curator Grant Scanlan and New Light chair Annette Petchey.
The prize winners will be announced at a private view at Scarborough Art
Gallery on Friday, September 18.
Those prizes are:
The £10,000 Valeria Sykes Award: open to all artists aged over
18 with a connection to the north, whether through birth, degree level study or
The £2,500 Patron’s Choice Award: presented on the night of the
private view; all exhibited works are considered.
The Saul Hay Gallery Emerging Artists Prize: offering
mentoring, professional advice and exhibition opportunities, including a solo
The Zillah Bell Printmakers’ Prize: all forms of original
printmaking are eligible; the winner will be offered a solo exhibition at
the Zillah Bell Gallery in Thirsk.
The Visitors’ Choice Award: visitors are asked to vote for
their favourite work.
New Light Purchase Prize: the selected work is purchased
by the charity to add to its collection.
The New Light Prize Exhibition will move on from Scarborough to Tullie
House Museum and Art Gallery, Carlisle, The Biscuit Factory, Newcastle, and finally
The Bankside Gallery, London.
Established in 2010, New Light runs not only the biennial open
exhibition for established and emerging artists, but also the New Light Art For
All education programme of talks, workshops and school projects.
This spring, the New Light Collection is being launched with the aim of
making “the best in northern visual arts” available to more people by loaning
pieces, free of charge, to public bodies and charities.
The common thread that runs through everything New Light does is a “deep belief that the visual arts matter and the north of England deserves to be celebrated”.
New Light is run by a dedicated group of people with
a passion for northern art and relies entirely on donations and sponsorship.
For more information, go to newlight-art.org.uk.