Vintage Sitwell photographs at Woodend donated to Scarborough Museums Trust

Andrew Clay, chief executive of Scarborough Museums Trust, with archive material donated by William Sitwell in the Sitwell Library at Woodend, Scarborough. Picture: Tony Bartholomew.

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.

The Sitwell conservatory at Woodend, Scarborough, in the late 19th or early 20th century. Copyright: Scarborough Museums Trust

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.

The Sitwell conservatory today, now the Woodend Gallery. Picture: Tony Bartholomew

“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.

Another room at Woodend, from the Sitwell archive material donated to Scarborough Museums Trust by William Sitwell

Spooky weekend and drawing festival are Scarborough’s big draws for half-term

Emma Hallam, associate marketing manager for Scarborough Museums Trust, sketches out a few ideas ahead of The Big Draw 2020 at Scarborough Art Gallery during the half-term holiday. Picture: Tony Bartholomew

SPOOKY goings-on for Halloween and climate-conscious art are on offer from Scarborough Museums Trust for half-term.

The Spooky Museum Weekend runs amok from Friday, October 30 to Sunday, November 1 at the Rotunda Museum, when visitors are invited to explore the museum in Halloween fancy dress from 10am to 4pm each day.

The spooky weekend is suitable for families, who can follow the trail and make and take a deer or wolf mask inspired by the trust’s Star Carr headdress. 

Booking is essential, either by calling 01723 353665 or emailing rotunda@smtrust.uk.com to book a 45-minute slot for a group of up to six people. Each allotted time slot allows exclusive use of the gallery. 

Drawing you in: Emma Hallam’s handiwork seeks to catch your eye to take part in The Big Draw 2020 at Scarborough Art Gallery. Picture: Tony Bartholomew

The Spooky Star Carr Trail can be enjoyed every day during half-term except Monday. Families are invited to join the wolf tribe and look for the wolves hidden in the Rotunda. “Crack the puzzle and enter our prize draw,” says the trust.

The half-term events include two that form part of this year’s Big Draw, Britain’s annual festival of drawing. Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, The Big Green Draw Festival #ClimateOfChange focuses on the relationship between people and our living environments and ecosystems, highlighting how we live today and the ways we do and do not harmonise with nature.

The Big Green Draw: Plant, Grow, Draw! at Scarborough Art Gallery on Monday, October 26, from 10am to 4pm, invites you to be inspired by the trust’s seed collection to create your own drawings. “Have a go at decorating a plant pot and sow a seed to take home and grow,” says the trust.

Again suitable for families, booking is essential for this activity on 01723 374753 or by emailing gallery@smtrust.uk.com for a 45-minute slot for a group of up to six people. Each allotted time slot allows exclusive use of the gallery for this relaxed event, fully accessible for disabled and non-disabled children.

Picture this: Emma Hall does some canvas work to attract support for The Big Draw 2020. Picture: Tony Bartholomew

On Saturday, October 24 and 31, you can tune into The Big Green Draw: Drawing with Nature on the trust’s YouTube Channel at 10am to take part in online drawing challenges inspired by the natural world. To join in this pre-recorded event, suitable for families, you will need drawing materials, scissors and glue.

The Big Green Scavenger Trail will take place every day during half-term, except Monday, at Scarborough Art Gallery and The Crescent. To hunt for wildlife on The Crescent in a special scavenger trail designed by artist Savannah Storm, families will need to pick up a copy from Scarborough Art Gallery.

Scarborough Museums Trust’s learning manager, Christine Rostron, says: “We’re delighted to be able to offer some socially-distanced events for our families, alongside some online challenges.  Our Halloween and Big Draw activities are always so popular and we can’t wait to see families and children back in our venues for lots of creative fun!”

Staff at Scarborough Museums Trust have been trained in post-lockdown safety procedures, and the trust has been awarded VisitEngland’s We’re Good To Go industry standard mark, signifying the venues’ adherence to Government and public health guidance.

Entry to Scarborough Art Gallery and the Rotunda Museum for adults costs £3 for an annual pass; for under-18s, entry is free. For all activities, all children must be accompanied by an adult. Both venues are open Tuesdays to Sundays, 10am to 5pm.

Joanna Whittle’s tiny painting wins the big award at the New Light Prize Exhibition

Joanna Whittle’s Sorrowing Cloth, winner of the New Light Prize Exhibition main award

A TINY oil-on-copper painting of a tent has won the New Light Prize Exhibition main prize, open to artists across the North.

Measuring only 10cm by 15cm, Joanna Whittle’s Sorrowing Cloth received the £10,000 Valeria Sykes Award on the exhibition’s opening night at Scarborough Art Gallery.

Sorrowing Cloth is part of a series of paintings of tents by Sheffield artist Whittle, who says: “My tent paintings represent fragile and temporary structures constructed within notions of the ruin and time passing.

New Light Art Prize winning artist Joanna Whittle

“Canvas sits in water; ropes are pegged into fluid land. Time sits still and moments brush against each other. Canvas rots and weeds scramble over surfaces, but some lights remain on or have just been lit.

“They hold their own histories, ideas of vanished circuses or fairgrounds – events once frenetic now silenced and ominous in dusk or rain.”

Forlorn, by Victor Harris, winner of the Patron’s Choice Award

The £2,500 Patron’s Choice Award, picked from all the exhibited works, went to Victor Harris, from Waterfoot, Rossendale, in Lancashire, for his oil painting on linen, Forlorn.

Linnet Rubaya, from Leeds, was awarded the Emerging Artists Prize for her acrylic on canvas, Seen. The sponsors, the Saul Hay Gallery, in Manchester, will offer mentoring, professional advice and exhibition opportunities, including a solo show.

Emerging Artists Prize winner Linnet Rubaya

Leeds artist Ian Brooks won the Printmakers’ Prize, open to all forms of original printmaking, for his etching Across Borge Bay. The winner will hold an exhibition at the Zillah Bell Gallery, in Thirsk, the prize sponsors, where some of the best British printmakers exhibit.

Harrogate artist Christian Alexander Bailey received the New Light Purchase Prize for his pen-and-ink drawing Tree Sparrow. His winning work has been acquired by the charity to add to its collection.

Across Borge Bay, by Ian Brooks, winner of the Printmakers’ Prize

A final award, the Visitors’ Choice, will be made at the end of the Scarborough exhibition run and announced at the touring show’s next location, Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery in Carlisle. This public award recognises the work that strikes a chord with visitors, who are asked to vote for their favourite artwork.

The judges, who shortlisted the artists by using an anonymous online selection process and concluded the judging together in the gallery, were printmaker and artist Anne Desmet; RA Magazine editor Sam Phillips; Huddersfield Art Gallery curator Grant Scanlan; Catherine and Ian Hay, from the Saul Hay Gallery; John Bell, from the Zillah Bell Gallery; New Light patron Valeria Sykes and New Light chair Annette Petchey.

Artist Christian Alexander Bailey with his New Light Purchase Prize winner, Tree Sparrow

Annette says: “The high standard of entries has once again astounded the judges, with familiar and new artists showcasing the huge talent in the north of England. “Themes that reflect all of the emotions we have felt as a nation during the 2020 pandemic are captured and reflected across the exhibition: everything from sadness and loneliness to clear optimism and joy in a broad range of media.

“New Light continues to go from strength to strength and it is a delight to work collaboratively with the team at Scarborough Museums Trust.”

The New Light Prize Exhibition at Scarborough Art Gallery. Picture: Tony Bartholomew

Simon Hedges, the trust’s head of curation, collections and exhibitions, says: “I’m delighted with the judges’ choices and I would like to thank both the New Light and the SMT teams for delivering such an amazing show in these most difficult of times.”

After the Scarborough run ends on January 17 2021, the exhibition will move to Tullie House, Carlisle, The Biscuit Factory, Newcastle, and finally The Bankside Gallery, London.

Patron’s Choice Award winner Victor Harris

Established in 2010, New Light celebrates and promotes well-known and emerging artists by offering awards and opportunities in its biennial open exhibition. It also runs New Light Art For All, an education programme that includes talks, workshops and school projects, and the New Light Collection, launched in the spring  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 through everything New Light does is a deep belief that the visual arts matter and the North of England deserves to be celebrated,” says Annette.

More Things To Do in and around York and at home, as opposed to a “social gathering” for the joy of six. List No 14, from The Press

Helen Wilson in a damned spot of Scottish bother in York Shakespeare Project’s Sit-down Sonnets at Holy Trinity churchyard, Goodramgate, York. Picture: John Saunders

MUSICAL theatre in a park, drag cabaret at a sports club, Shakespeare sonnets and songs in churchyards, high-speed film action at an airfield and chamber music online catch Charles Hutchinson’s eye

Graveyard smash of the week: York Shakespeare Project’s Sit-down Sonnets, Holy Trinity churchyard, Goodramgate, York, until Saturday

WHEN York Shakespeare Project’s Macbeth bit the dust in March, put on hold by the Covid lockdown, York’s purveyors of Shakespeare’s Sonnet Walks decided to stage a sit-down, but not as an act of protest.

Director Mick Taylor and producer Maurice Crichton hatched a plan to present assorted familiar Shakespeare characters, brought into the modern world, to reflect on the pandemic with an accompanying sonnet.

Holy Trinity’s churchyard, with its five park benches, tree shelter and mown grass, provides an ideal socially distanced open-air setting. Bring a rug, cushion, camp chair, flask and biscuits, suggests Maurice, to performances at 5.45pm and 7pm, plus 4.15pm on Saturday.

Polly Bolton: Sharing a double bill with Henry Parker in the NCEM churchyard

Double bills in another churchyard: Songs Under Skies, National Centre for Early Music, St Margaret’s Church, Walmgate, York, tonight, September 16 and 17

SONGS Under Skies brings together the National Centre for Early Music, The Crescent, The Fulford Arms and the Music Venues Alliance for an open-air series of acoustic concerts.

The opening night with Amy May Ellis and Luke Saxton on September 2 was driven inside by the rain. Fingers crossed for more clement conditions for Wolf Solent and Rosalind tonight, Polly Bolton and Henry Parker on September 16 and Elkyn and Fawn the following night.

Gates will open at 6.30pm for each 7pm start; acts will perform either side of a 30-minute interval with a finishing time of 8.30pm. 

The Bev Jones Music Company in a socially distanced rehearsal for Sunday’s show at the Rowntree Park Amphitheatre

Musical theatre showcase part one: Bev Jones Music Company, Strictly Live In The Park, Rowntree Park Amphitheatre, York, Sunday, 3pm.

THE Bev Jones Music Company stage a full-sized musical theatre concert with more than 20 socially distanced singers and a five-piece band on Sunday afternoon.

Strictly Live In The Park promises a “spectacular show for all the family, with popular show music, pop music, dance and comedy”, under the musical direction of John Atkin with choreography by Claire Pulpher.

Expect numbers from Adele to Robbie Williams, Cabaret to Hairspray, Mack & Mabel to South Pacific, The Full Monty to Chess, Miss Saigon to the finale, Les Miserables, all arranged by the late company driving force Bev Jones. Also expect temperature tests on arrival.

Conor Mellor in York Stage Musicals’ first show at the Rowntree Park Amphitheatre, York. He will be back for the second one too. Picture: Jess Main

Musical theatre showcase part two: York Stage Musicals present Jukebox Divas, Rowntree Park Amphitheatre, York, September 18 to 20, 7pm

AFTER the sold-out three-night run of York Stage Musicals’ first ever outdoor show last month, producer/director Nik Briggs and musical director Jessica Douglas return to their Rowntree Park psychedelic igloo to stage Jukebox Divas.

Jessica’s band line-up has changed, so too has the singing sextet, with Conor Mellor from the debut show being joined by Dan Conway, Sophie Hammond, Grace Lancaster and Eleanor Leaper.

“With music from We Will Rock You, Mamma Mia! and more modern releases like + Juliet and Moulin Rouge, audiences will be entertained for 90 minutes with vocal tributes to artists such as Elvis Presley, Queen, Meat Loaf, Katy Perry, Carole King and many more,” says Nik.

Baby Driver: one of the films with high-speed thrills to be screened at AA Getaway Drive-in Cinema at Elvington Airfield

Car experience of next week: AA Getaway Drive-in Cinema, Elvington Airfield, near York, September 18 to 20

AFTER Daisy Duke’s Drive-in Cinema on Knavesmire, now comes a celebration of high-speed thrills and derring-do skills at Elvington Airfield…on screen, courtesy of AA Getaway Drive-in Cinema.

Tickets have sold out already for the September 19 screenings of James Gunn’s 2014 space chase, Guardians Of The Galaxy (12A), at 2.30pm and James Mangold’s 2019 Ford v Ferrari race-track clash, Le Mans 66 (12), at 7.30pm.

Bookings can still be made, however, for Guardians Of The Galaxy on September 18 at 2.30pm and September 20 at 7.30pm and Edgar Wright’s 2017 getaway-car heist thriller, Baby Driver (15), September 18, 7.30pm, and September 20, 2.30pm.

No more kitchen-sink dramas for Velma Celli as York’s drag diva deluxe swaps live-streaming for the great outdoors in Acomb tomorrow

Stepping out of her Bishopthorpe kitchen into the York open air: Velma Celli: An Evening Of Song, York RI Community Sports Club, New Lane, Acomb, tomorrow, 8pm.

AFTER a spring and summer of concerts live-streamed from home, York drag diva Velma Celli takes to the outdoor stage at a sports club.

“The show will be a mixed bag of whatever I fancy on the day – pop, rock, impressions and some musical theatre obviously – and of course requests online. Message me on Facebook,” advises Velma.

Very special guests are promised: definitely York soul powerhouse Jessica Steel will be among them.

Tim Lowe: York Chamber Music Festival artistic director and cellist

Festival of the month: York Chamber Music Festival, September 18 to 20

THE 2020 York Chamber Music Festival is going online to live-stream three concerts from the National Centre for Early Music, Walmgate, York, in a celebration of the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth.

Festival artistic director and cellist Lowe will be performing with Simon Blendis and Charlotte Scott, violins; Matthew Jones, violin and viola; Jon Thorne, viola, and Katya Apekisheva, piano. For full details on the programme and on how to watch the concerts, go to ycmf.co.uk.

Strictly between us: Anton du Beke and Giovanni Pernice’s tour poster for Him & Me next summer at the Grand Opera House, York

One for the 2021 diary: Anton & Giovanni, Him & Me, Grand Opera House, York, July 12

STRICTLY Come Dancing staples Anton du Beke and Giovanni Pernice will link up for their debut tour together, Him & Me, next year.

Details are sketchy, but the dapper Sevenoaks ballroom king and the Italian stallion say: “This show promises to be the best night out in the Summer of 2021 for all ages…A true dance extravaganza!”

Anton and Giovanni will be joined by a “world-class cast” of dancers and singers for a show produced by Strictly Theatre Co and directed by Alan Burkitt.

And what about…?

A visit to the reopened Bar Convent Living Heritage Centre exhibition in Blossom Street, York. Malton Harvest Food Festival on Saturday. New Light Prize Exhibition, with more than 100 artists, opening at Scarborough Art Gallery on September 19. York Walking Festival, running or, rather, walking until Sunday (details at iTravel York website).

Jon, by Laura Quin Harris, at the New Light Prize Exhibition at Scarborough Art Gallery

Prize exhibition to shed New Light on northern artists at Scarborough Art Gallery

Day Dreamer, by Abigail Rooney, one of the works selected for the New Light Prize Exhibition, as are all those featured below

IN its tenth year, the New Light Prize Exhibition will open at Scarborough Art Gallery on September 19 for its biggest show yet.

Work by more than 100 contemporary northern artists will be on show until January 17 2021, their artwork ranging from “the hyper-real to the purely abstract” across a range of media by artists at all stages of their career.

Rebekah Tadd, New Light’s development director, says: “We’re delighted by the positive reception to the 2020 New Light Prize Exhibition. It’s one of the few open art competitions able to continue this year due to its predominantly online nature and the collaboration of our partner galleries.

Seeing, by Linnett Rubaya

“With over 2,000 entries, the judges had a tremendous challenge. Their shortlist features 125 artworks from 105 of the most talented artists in the UK, making this our biggest exhibition ever and giving a unique insight into contemporary northern art.”

Against the backdrop of the Coronavirus pandemic presenting “huge challenges and hardships to the whole of the UK and particular challenges for the art world”, Rebekah says: “We’re very fortunate that Scarborough Art Gallery was the first gallery in the country to devise a Covid-secure visitor experience, enabling us to open the exhibition to the public while operating within Government guidelines.

“In order to make the exhibition available to those unable to attend the gallery in person, we’re working to ensure that we share as much as possible through online sources.

Salmon Fishing On London Bridge, by Norman Long

“We aim to enhance visitor enjoyment by providing as much information as possible about the artists and their work to enable them to make informed decisions if they wish to purchase art work.”  

Simon Hedges, head of curation, collections and exhibitions at Scarborough Museums Trust, says: “This brilliant exhibition will showcase a wide range of media and styles from a diverse range of artists at all stages of their career. The very essence of the North shines through the unique qualities of our region’s artists and the physical as well as notional spaces they occupy.” 

The New Light Prize Exhibition is open to artists who were born, live or have studied in one of the historic counties of the North of England (Yorkshire, Lancashire, Cumberland, Westmorland, County Durham and Northumberland).

Jon, by Laura Quin Harris

Shortlisting took place over the summer, with a panel comprising printmaker and artist Anne Desmet, RA Magazine editor Sam Phillips, Huddersfield Art Gallery curator Grant Scanlan and New Light chair Annette Petchey. 

Annette says: “The calibre of work being produced by the region’s artists has, once again, underlined the wealth of talent the North of England attracts and nurtures. While the very high standard made the judging task incredibly difficult, it also affirmed the rationale for the New Light Prize.”

The competition winners will be announced at a private view on September 18. Prizes include the £10,000 Valeria Sykes Award, open to all artists over 18 with a connection to the North of England, and the £2,500 Patron’s Choice Award, presented that night.

KIng And Queen, by Andrew Tyzack

After its Scarborough launch show, the New Light Prize Exhibition will move on to Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery in Carlisle, The Biscuit Factory in Newcastle and The Bankside Gallery in London. 

Established in 2010, New Light not only celebrates and promotes well-known and emerging artists by offering awards and opportunities with the biennial open exhibition, but also runs New Light Art For All, an education programme that combines talks, workshops and school projects.

Behind The Doll Paint, by Catherine McDiarmid

In addition, the New Light Collection will be launched next spring with the aim of making the best northern visual arts available to more people by loaning pieces free of charge to public bodies and charities.

“The common thread through everything New Light does is a deep belief that the visual arts matter and the North of England deserves to be celebrated,” says Annette. “New Light is run by a dedicated group of people who are passionate about the visual arts in the north. It relies entirely on donations and sponsorship.”

For more information on New Light, go to: newlight-art.org.uk

Galgo, by Sarah Gooder

Rotunda Museum to re-open with chance to go around in your own exclusive bubble

Senior operations assistant Charlotte Mundey prepares the Rotunda Museum for re-opening. All pictures: Tony Bartholomew

SCARBOROUGH’S Rotunda Museum re-opens next week with a new booking system that gives small groups exclusive access.

From August 8, the Grade II-listed circular building in Esplanade Gardens will be open Tuesdays to Saturdays, 10am to 5pm.

Visiting slots will be every half hour across the day, allowing groups – or social bubbles – of up to six people at a time to explore the museum without having to follow prescriptive routes.

Senior operations assistant Charlotte Mundey in the Ancient Seas Gallery at the Rotunda Museum

Dating from 1829, the Rotunda specialises in geology and local history and is one of the oldest purpose-built museums in the world.

In the Ancient Seas Gallery, visitors will come face to face with prehistoric creatures that used to roam this coastline. In the Rotunda Gallery are displays of fossils, taxidermy, fine art and ceramics that tell the history of the museum. The shop will be open too.

Looking ahead, the Scarborough Museums Trust team is hard at work on a new display of Mesolithic objects from Star Carr, the important archaeological site in the Vale of Pickering, that will open in mid-September.

Senior operations assistant Charlotte Mundey on the circular stairwell at the Rotunda Museum, Scarborough

Gristhorpe Man, Britain’s best-preserved Early Bronze Age skeleton, is still in controlled storage after a leak in the roof threatened his safety and will be returned at a later date.

Staff have been trained in post-lockdown safety procedures and the Rotunda has been awarded VisitEngland’s We’re Good To Go industry standard mark, signifying its adherence to government and public health guidance.

Andrew Clay, the trust’s chief executive, says: “We’re delighted that we now have all three of our beautiful venues open to the public once again [Scarborough Art Gallery, Woodend and the Rotunda] – we can’t wait to welcome people back into the Rotunda. As always, our top priority is the safety of both our visitors and our staff.”

“We can’t wait to welcome people back into the Rotunda,” says Andrew Clay, chief executive of Scarborough Museums Trust

Please note, the Rotunda Museum has a lift to all floors and is fully wheelchair-accessible throughout, including an accessible loo. Support dogs are welcome. Induction loops are available. The museum is breastfeeding-friendly and staff are trained to be Dementia Friends.

Slots for the Rotunda can be booked online at scarboroughmuseumstrust.com, by phone on 01723 353665 or via email sent to rotunda@smtrust.uk.com.

From August 1, the £3 annual pass system will be re-introduced, giving unlimited entry to the Rotunda Museum and Scarborough Art Gallery for a year. Woodend is always free.

Opening hours for Scarborough Art Gallery are 10am to 5pm, Tuesday to Sundays; Woodend, 9am to 5pm, Mondays to Fridays, and 10am to 4pm, Saturdays and Sundays.

Rare and extinct animals go wild in the gallery in Lucy Carruthers’ lockdown film for Scarborough Museums Trust

Museum Farewell, from Lucy Carruthers’ digital commission for Scarborough Museums Trust

THE plight of rare and extinct animals has inspired a new animated film by Lucy Carruthers for Scarborough Museums Trust’s series of lockdown digital commissions.

Animal Archives: Re-wilding The Museum presents a playful exploration of what might happen if assorted animals and birds in the Scarborough Borough Collection were to escape and return to the wild. 

The short animation – just over two minutes in length – can be viewed on the trust’s YouTube channel at http://bit.ly/YouTubeSMT from Tuesday, July 28.

Blue Bridge, from Lucy Carruthers’ animation Animal Archives: Re-wilding The Museum

Carruthers’ film follows the adventures of all manner of creatures, ranging from a fox, a tiger, a jaguar and an aardvark to a tunny/tuna fish, a pair of great bustards, a Floreana Island tortoise and a Captain Cook’s bean snail.

During lockdown, all of them escape the confines of the trust’s stores at Woodend and the Rotunda Museum to “re-wild” themselves via Scarborough Art Gallery. 

Lucy says: “Animal Archives is based on observations and speculations about Scarborough’s natural history collection. The historical extraction of species and the current wildlife trade have been at the forefront of my mind in relation to the pandemic. How do we view the natural world during lockdown and will it become normal to see animals roaming the streets?

Park Walk, another scene from Lucy Carruthers’ short film

“This animation portrays the relationships between the species and the place they inhabit, with underlying themes of extinction and conservation, but in a playful and accessible way, which I hope will inspire curiosity.

“Re-examining the collection and sites, through a climate and ecological lens, I wanted to explore how could we better understand our shared environment, and what stories could encourage empathy for a more compassionate multi-species co-existence.”

Suitable for all ages, Animal Archives aims to be accessible to everyone: the film is captioned and boasts a narrated soundtrack, for those who might find this helpful.

Red Bridge, from Animal Archives, inspired by the Scarborough Borough Collection

Carruthers has created her animation in collaboration with London design and animation studio Silver Machine Studios; Dan Savage, of DS Design and Sound,  who spent many childhood summers building sandcastles on Scarborough’s  beaches, has provided the narration and sound.

Describing herself as an “experiential designer”, Lucy Carruthers is a consultant for museums, exhibitions and visitor attractions, now at MET Studio Design. Formerly she was a senior designer at Event Communications, working with St Fagans National Museum of History in Cardiff, M Shed in Bristol and Scarborough’s Rotunda Museum, when it was restored and re-opened in 2008.

As a multi-disciplinary artist, she has curated alternative climate narratives through Floodprood and is co-director of Climate Museum UK.

Valley Section, from Lucy Carruthers’ two-minute animated film

Animal Archives: Re-wilding The Museumis the latest digital commission from Scarborough Museums Trust as part of its response to the Coronavirus crisis. The trust has asked artists Kirsty Harris, Jane Poulton, Wanja Kimani, Feral Practice, Jade Montserrat, Lucy Carruthers and Estabrak to create digital artworks during the summer across a range of social media platforms.

The final piece, by Estabrak, will go online in August. All the others remain available to view and further Information on the commissions can be found at scarboroughmuseumstrust.com.

Scarborough Art Gallery and Woodend are open to the public again after lockdown easement. Entry to Scarborough Art Gallery (usually £3 for an annual pass) will be free throughout July; entry to Woodend will remain free. Scarborough Art Gallery is open from 10am to 5pm, Tuesday to Sundays; Woodend, 9am to 5pm, Mondays to Fridays, and 10am to 4pm, Saturdays and Sundays.

Scarborough Museums Trust hopes to announce re-opening plans for the Rotunda Museum soon.

Scarborough Art Gallery and Woodend exhibitions to re-open from this weekend

John Bedder, senior operations assistant with Scarborough Museums Trust, prepares for the re-opening of Scarborough Art Gallery. All pictures: Tony Bartholomew

TWO of Scarborough Museums Trust’s three venues will re-open on Saturday.

Scarborough Art Gallery and Woodend have been closed to the public since the Covid-19 lockdown started in late-March, as has the Rotunda Museum, whose re-opening will be delayed to “allow more time to work out how to do that safely”.

SMT chief executive Andrew Clay says: “Our dedicated staff have all been working very hard to ensure that venues are safe and in line with government guidelines on social distancing and cleanliness. The safety of all our staff and visitors is our top priority.”

John Bedder, Scarborough Museums Trust’s senior operations assistant, sits behind a protective screen at Scarborough art Gallery

Safety measures introduced for this weekend’s re-opening will be five-fold:

* Protective screens around the reception desks;

* Hand sanitiser on entry to the buildings and on the top floor of Scarborough Art Gallery;

* Disposable hand towels in the loos;

*  PPE (gloves, masks and aprons) for staff when cleaning the venues, plus extra cleaning protocols;

* Staff monitoring at a safe distance to ensure that visitors are following the distancing guidelines.

Andrew Clay: Chief executive of Scarborough Museums Trust

Clay says: “The number of visitors within the two spaces will be monitored to ensure that there is enough room for them to move around in a safe and enjoyable manner. Clear wayfinding and arrows will direct them, and staff will be on hand to provide further support and information.

“The internal layout of our third venue, the historic Rotunda Museum, presents certain challenges with regard to social distancing, so we’re delaying opening that for the time being to allow us more time to work out how to do that safely.”

The exhibitions sent into abeyance under lockdown strictures have been extended. At Scarborough Art Gallery, visitors can see The Printmakers Council 1992-2019 and the William Smith map until September 6, alongside the permanent display of fine art from the Scarborough Borough Collection.

John Bedder, senior operations assistant with Scarborough Museums Trust, stands by one of the new hand sanitiser stations at Scarborough Art Gallery

At Woodend, vintage travel and tourism posters will be on show in A Day At The Seaside until September 27.

Entry to Scarborough Art Gallery – usually £3, which buys an annual pass – will be free throughout July; admission to Woodend will remain free.

Opening hours will be unchanged: Scarborough Art Gallery, 10am to 5pm, Tuesday to Sundays; Woodend, 9am to 5pm, Mondays to Fridays; 10am to 4pm, Saturdays and Sundays.

Re-presenting India On Screen is the focus of Scarborough Art Gallery’s online film night on June 30

Still from Survey Number Zero, by Priya Thuvassery, 2016

SCARBOROUGH Art Gallery’s online film series will resume on June 30 with Re-presenting India On Screen.

The 7pm screening marks a new and ambitious element of Scarborough Museums Trust’s digital programming, with filmmakers Suraj Prasad and Tarini Manchanda joining the post-screening Q&A live from Delhi in this international collaboration between Britain and India.

Gallery Screenings Online, on the last Tuesday night of each month, features films selected to give audiences a new perspective on both visiting exhibitions and the permanent Scarborough Collections. Each is followed by a question-and-answer session.

Re-presenting India On Screen will feature short films by director, cinematographer and editor Priya Thuvassery; Gautam Valluri, an artist working with film; Suraj Prasad, co-founder of Lightcube, a film collective in New Delhi, and Tarini Manchanda, a filmmaker based in New Delhi.

Built around short films that re-think how India has been and continues to be re-presented on screen, the event will be co-hosted by Suraj Prasad and curator Martha Cattell.

The catalyst for June 30’s online screening was an item in the Scarborough Borough Collection: a journal by colonialist traveller Colonel James Harrison, from Brandesburton in East Yorkshire.

Suraj says: “The idea that colonialism is necessarily connected to a specific identity and location is convoluted and over-simplified; we are all colonialists to some degree. Perhaps our images can help reveal a lot about how we see the world.”

Still from The Dhenuki Cinema Project, by Suraj Prasad, 2016

Harrison’s journal and photographs offer a specific representation of India through an external and colonialist perspective, observes Martha. “This screening will consider how filmmakers have used moving images to represent India. It will feature archive and contemporary works, drawing on themes of ecology, architecture and colonialism,” she says.

“It will aim to challenge pre-existing biases and colonist hangovers of India on screen, and is part of ongoing work at Scarborough Museums Trust to decolonialise the Scarborough Collections.”

Each Gallery Screening will have optional live captions from a stenographer; downloading the app version of Zoom is recommended for those wishing to use this function.

A “social story” – a visual guide – will be created too, with illustrations by Scarborough artist Savannah Storm to explain the format and accessible elements of the screening.

Access to the June 30 event is by password only, available, along with a link, by emailing Martha Cattell at Martha.cattell@smtrust.uk.com. Email the same address for access to the social story.

The introduction and Q&A will be available post-event on Scarborough Museums Trust’s YouTube channel: bit.ly/YouTubeSMT.

Visit the trust’s YouTube channel at the same address to watch the recorded introductions and Q&As from previous Gallery Screenings.

Joys of a daily walk in lockdown are captured in Wanja Kimani’s film Butterfly

Wanja Kimani’s lockdown film Butterfly: Inspired by the daily family walk

WANJA Kimani’s Butterfly, a new film inspired by the everyday pleasures of a daily family walk, will be released on June 2 as the latest digital commission in lockdown from Scarborough Art Gallery.

Butterfly is filmed from the perspective of two children adjusting to life during the Coronavirus lockdown and collects encounters from their walks, when they appreciate nature and music in particular.

Suitable for all ages, Kimani’s six-minute film can be seen on Scarborough Museums Trust’s YouTube channel, https://bit.ly/SMTbutterfly, from next Tuesday morning.

One of Butterfly’s highlights will be a performance of Over The Rainbow, from The Wizard Of Oz, played on violin, piano and accordion by two music teachers from their doorstep.

A still from Wanja KImani’s film Butterfly, released on June 2

Kimani, who lives in Cambridgeshire, says: “We heard beautiful music coming from the house one day and put a note on the door to ask if we could film the following day.

“It’s not something we would usually have heard: all of these things are coming together because we’re all forced to be at home.”

Kimani asks both herself and the viewer: “What can we learn from listening even closer to our natural world, which seems to be revelling in our absence? How can the small but magnified details of our journey change how we engage when all of this is over?

“In this digital commission, I am exploring objects from the natural world through the eyes of children, who instinctively collect and curate everyday objects simply by noticing them. 

“What can we learn from listening even closer to our natural world, which seems to be revelling in our absence?” ponders Wanja Kimani in Butterfly

“The title, Butterfly, sums up spring for me: a sign of new life, light and a reminder that things are working even when we don’t see them. It’s something that my youngest has just learned how to draw and is so proud of it.” 

Scarborough Museums Trust wants Butterfly to be accessible to everyone. Consequently, the film includes audio description and captioning, for those who might find this helpful. A transcript is available to download too.

Kimani says: “Thinking about how this work will be accessed has made me pause and reflect on how the tools I use can be used to enrich the experience of diverse viewers. It made me consider how my work may be viewed and what different audiences may need to engage with the work. 

“By embedding access in the process, the work has allowed me to experiment with how different senses engage with work, with the second part of the work attempting to level out the point of entry.”

“Butterfly is something that my youngest has just learned how to draw and is so proud of it,” says filmmaker Wanja KImani

Through film, textiles and installation, Kimani’s repertoire of work “explores memory, trauma and the fluidity within social structures that are designed to care and protect but have the potential to mutate into coercive forces within society”.

She imposes elements of her own life into public spaces, creating a personal narrative where she is both author and character. In 2018, her performance piece  Expectations was included in the Laboratoire Agit’Art presentation during the Dak’Art Biennale of Contemporary African Art in Dakar, Senegal.

In 2019, she presented her work at Art Dubai and as part of a group show, Yesterday Is Today’s Memory, at Espace Commines, in Paris, France. 

The digital commission series forms part of Scarborough Museums Trust’s response to the Corona crisis, asking Kimani, Kirsty Harris, Jane Poulton, Feral Practice, Jade Montserrat, Lucy Carruthers and Estabrak to create digital artworks for release online across assorted social-media platforms over the next few months.