Scarborough Museums Trust’s lockdown digital commissions stay at home online

Estabrak’s Homecoming: A Placeless Place

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.

Lucy Carruthers’ Animal Archives. Copyright: Scarborough Museums Trust

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.

Kirsty Harris’s Whispers From The Museum. Copyright: Scarborough Museums Trust

The New Digital Commissions all can be found on YouTube at http://bit.ly/SMTrustNDC, other than Jane Poulton and Kirsty Harris’s projects at https://www.scarboroughmuseumstrust.com/stardust/ and www.scarboroughmuseumstrust.com/learning/family-resources/ respectively.

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.

Jade Montserrat made a film with filmmakers Webb-Ellis for the New Digital Commissions project

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.

A still from Wanja Kimani’s film Butterfly

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.

A still from Feral Practice’s film The Unseeables

What next?

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”. 

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.

What does “home” mean to you, asks Estabrak in Scarborough digital project

Homecoming digital artist Estabrak, pictured during a performance of a Live Projection Painting in Morocco in 2018

SCARBOROUGH residents are being asked to participate in a digital art project that explores what “home” means to them.

Led by the artist and former refugee Estabrak, Homecoming; A Placeless Place is the last of a series of lockdown digital commissions from Scarborough Museums Trust in response to the Coronavirus crisis.

Estabrak’s commission is designed to “bring together individual and collective experiences and connect diverse voices and realities from the varied communities of the town”.

Participants are invited to call, text or WhatsApp to leave a message of any length, in any language, around the concept of “home”. Messages can be left anonymously or with a name, age and language attached. Those unable to communicate verbally, or who would rather draw something, can share drawings or illustrations.

The messages will be incorporated into a film that applies concepts surrounding ultraviolet light and invisible ink.

Estabrak is keen to engage Scarborough voices with her own, interweaving individual and collective experiences while also relating these shared realities to recordings and photographs found in the Scarborough Borough Collection.

Homecoming – Social Experiment UV Light Reveal, by Estabrak

Her film will be available on the trust’s website, scarboroughmuseumstrust.com, and social media from late-August.

Estabrak says: “Anyone who resides in Scarborough is encouraged to take part in this project, no matter your experience – both positive and negative; no matter your understanding of what ‘home’ means – whether literal or abstract; whatever your age, race, class, size, gender/s, ability or orientation is. You are all welcome to share your experience.”

Homecoming 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.

The project started in 2019 in Brighton and Hull and now its social experiment, Homecoming; A Placeless Place, will be introduced digitally to communities in Scarborough.

To take part, please call 07547 149229 by Sunday, August 16. Providing you have access to WiFi, or an inclusive data plan, all voice notes or images sent via WhatsApp are free. Depending on your data plan, leaving a voicemail also will be free – please check with your provider if you are unsure of this.

“As an independent multidisciplinary artist and progressive facilitator, I am committed to inclusivity, and to participatory arts practice that helps highlight visibility towards marginalised communities and everyday people,” says Estabrak.

Homecoming – A Placeless Place, Social Experiment 06, by Estabrak

“My practice is repeatedly engaged with water and often explores themes related to the intersectionality of my own identity as LGBTQIA+, Arab, mixed heritage, neuro-diverse, culturally Muslim and former refugee.

“Led by the emotive, my aim is to help re-humanise many de-humanised realities, while focusing on alternative ways of safe collaboration, understanding and exchange that encourage the sharing and dismantling of power, helping move towards racial, social, humanitarian and climate justice.”

In her work as an award-winning multi-disciplinary visual artist and filmmaker, Estabrak has been supported by the BBC, Wellcome Trust, Invisible Dust, University of Hull and Ocean Global Foundation. 

She has presented work to the United Nations and worked with numerous NGOs [Non-Governmental Organisations] in television and film, as well as exhibiting internationally and at Tate Britain and the Royal Academy of Arts in London. She also takes part in international fellowships and residencies, latterly collaborating with scientists and academics.

As well as Estabrak, artists Kirsty Harris, Jane Poulton, Wanja Kimani, Feral Practice, Jade Montserrat and Lucy Carruthers have created digital artworks for Scarborough Museums Trust this summer on assorted social media platforms and all are still available to view. More information on these commissions can be found at:  scarboroughmuseumstrust.com.

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.

Lari the Seagull and Jan Bee Brown lead Scarborough museums’ seaside adventures

Jan Bee Brown: Writing weekly audio story for Scarborough Museums Trust

SCARBOROUGH Museums Trust is to present a summer programme of seaside and animal-themed stories, crafts and activities with the help of Lari the Seagull.

From July 22 to August 20, the trust’s learning team will take over its social media pages to add family information and activities based around objects in the Scarborough Borough Collection.

On Wednesdays, from July 22 to August 19, families can enjoy Seaside Adventures, whether “meeting” rockpool creatures or magical selkies – those mythical seal folk – all inspired by paintings at Scarborough Art Gallery and designed by storyteller and artist Jan Bee Brown.

On Thursdays, from July 23 to August 20, Animal Antics will take participants on a journey across the world, inspired by animals in the SMT natural history collections. 

The highlight each week will be a new audio story written especially for Scarborough Museums Trust by Jan Bee Brown, released each Wednesday. The stories will bring paintings from the collections to life, weaving together folk tales and Scarborough characters and landmarks, from Dottie the Donkey to the Hispaniola.  

Are you ready for a Seaside Adventure, courtesy of Scarborough Museums Trust? Picture: Tony Bartholomew

A short video will be released each Thursday showing children how to make one of the art activities and each one will include voiceovers by children from the Stephen Joseph Theatre’s Youth Theatre group. 

Families are invited to share pictures of their artworks with Scarborough Museums Trust, using the hashtag #SummerAdventures 

Scarborough Museums Trust’s learning manager, Christine Rostron, says: “We’re looking forward to welcoming families for some great summer fun online – and our friend Lari the Seagull will be on hand the whole time to help guide them through it. He’s even been taking selfies with some of the objects in our collections.” 

For families without printers, the trust will be providing free activity templates each week that can be collected from Scarborough Art Gallery in The Crescent. Please note, visiting the gallery will be “a little bit different” for a while: social-distancing rules mean only a limited number of families are allowed to visit at any one time and you may need to wait if the gallery is very busy.

The activities and videos will be available on the family learning page at: scarboroughmuseumstrust.com/learning/family-resources/.

Jade Montserrat confronts Government response to Covid-19 in frank digital film

Jade Montserrat in a still from her Covid-19 lockdown film Chronicle ia. Picture: Jade Montserrat/Webb-Ellis

JADE Montserrat’s lockdown film, Chronicle ia, goes online from July 7 as the latest digital commission for Scarborough Museums Trust.

“When 60,000 people are dead and a disproportionate amount are disabled, elderly and black and brown people, that’s a eugenic project,” says Montserrat in her 13-minute film as she considers the impact of lockdown.

Filming during a period of physical and “social” distancing caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, she chronicles the process of making and the new ways of being that encourage mutual support and acts of care as Montserrat searches for a methodology to apply Eve Sedgwick’s theory of “reparative reading in a visual form”. In a nutshell, that means envisioning the interconnectivity of art practice, public space, responsibility and care.

Working with art film-makers Webb-Ellis, Montserrat interprets reparative reading as a “process of decoding, describing and discussing imagery, visual and human relationships, to interrogate and challenge political structures and frameworks”.

“With a title that plays with processes of recording and documentation, Chronicle ia explores the personal and inter-personal impacts of lockdown through the documentation of a collaborative making process, emphasising new ways of co-existing that are based on support,” explains Montserrat, whose films reveals the process of making through making, using the online platform Zoom for a series of digital conversations.

As Montserrat says in the film, in response to the Corona crisis: “When 60,000 people are dead and a disproportionate amount are disabled, elderly and black and brown people, that’s a eugenic project…When is it that we rebel? When is it that we say ‘No’?”

Here’s one she made earlier: Jade Montserrat, working on her The Last Place They Thought Of installation, Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania. Picture: Constance Mensh

Within the film are references to Scarborough Museums Trust’s collection of photographs by James Harrison, taken during numerous hunting trips in Africa and India between 1892 and 1910, in particular Harrison’s “debasing images of atrocities towards local peoples and the slayed bodies of innumerable animals”.

As Montserrat prepared to research this collection of photographs, diaries and taxidermy animals, she asked British/Canadian filmmakers Caitlin Webb-Ellis and Andrew Webb-Ellis to explore this with her to sustain her through the trauma of engaging with the material as an act of mutual care. 

“Reflecting on the geographic, experiential, cultural and social spaces inhabited by the artists – filming is located in their respective isolations within Scarborough Borough – the film presents a discussion aiming to define global imaginaries that traverse histories, nations, ideologies and time to help us conceive a new world that is built on principles of equality, support and social justice,” says Scarborough Museums Trust.

“The film’s imagery demonstrates glitches in communication, revealing how reparative reading involves a gradual – and sometimes incomplete – piecing together of practices and subjective viewpoints, but that, ultimately and beautifully, a common goal can be achieved.”

As Scarborough Museums Trust continues to improve access to its online content, Chronicle ia includes audio descriptions embedded in the film as part of the creative process, along with subtitles. Please note, the film contains photographic documentation of colonial atrocities and explicit images of violence and nudity. Consequently, the trust strongly recommends viewing for adults only, or those aged 12 and over with parental or guardian supervision.

Montserrat’s film can be seen on the trust’s YouTube channel, www.bit.ly/YouTubeSMT, from Tuesday, July 7. Chronicle ia is one of a series of new digital commissions from Scarborough Museums Trust as part of its response to the pandemic crisis. The trust has asked artists Kirsty Harris, Jane Poulton, Wanja Kimani, Feral Practice, Jade Montserrat, Lucy Carruthers and Estabrak to create digital artworks for release online across social media platforms throughout the summer.

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.

Feral Practice’s film in lockdown The Unseeables reawakens three extinct birds

Great Auk, clay head, work in progress for Feral Practice’s The Unseeables

THE Unseeables, a tale of extinction in three birds by filmmaker Feral Practice, is the latest digital commission in lockdown by Scarborough Museums Trust.

The 11-minute film, looking at the “the strange and polarised relationships humans have with other species”, can be seen on the trust’s YouTube channel (bit.ly/TheUnseeablesNDC) from Tuesday, June 16.

Feral Practice, the alias of artist and researcher Fiona MacDonald, explores loss, reparation, extinction and conservation, via the interwoven stories of three birds “lost” to Scarborough, now surviving only as specimens in the Scarborough Collections.

Corncrake facing left, for Feral Practice’s The Unseeables

The first is the sad and harrowing story of the Great Auk. The SMT collections house a single egg of a great auk, a large flightless bird that became globally extinct in 1844.

The auk’s demise was brutal, cruel, and driven by profit; most were killed for their down. As they approached extinction, every specimen was coveted by museums, ultimately putting the prestige of an auk exhibit above the survival of a species.

In the Scarborough Collections too are taxidermy examples of the great bustard and the corncrake.

Great Bustard eye, for Feral Practice’s The Unseeables

The great bustard became extinct in the UK in the early 1800s, but diminishing populations still exist in Central and Southern Europe and Asia, where the huge, “showy” males perform glorious ruffle dances for their female harems.

In Britain, the bird has been the subject of a reintroduction project that has succeeded in establishing a breeding population on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire.

The distinctive voice of the shy Corncrake was once integral to the British rural soundscape. Corncrakes started declining, however, as agriculture became mechanised, and by the late 1930s they were absent from much of England, not least Yorkshire, despite once having been widespread across the North of England.

Great Bustard performance body and bird, for Feral Practice’s The Unseeables

Now, they are confined largely to the islands off the west of Scotland and the northern isles of Orkney and Shetland. To save the bird, British conservationists seek to educate and persuade landowners.

The film narrates the birds’ stories alongside imagery that weaves together close-up footage of the Scarborough Collections exhibits with found footage and sculptural responses by Feral Practice, in an “impossible attempt to conjure the lost birds in their studio”.

Feral Practice says: “As we comprehend (or re-learn) the complex warp and weft of ecological thinking, and understand landscapes as self-creating masterpieces of which humans can never be masters, can we step back from our urge to manipulate, exploit and control? Will we allow other species the space they need to flourish alongside us on their own terms?”

Great Bustard performance feathers in two colours for Feral Practice’s film The Unseeables

Scarborough Museums Trust wants The Unseeables to be accessible to everyone, so the film is captioned and a parallel audio experience is available for those who might find this helpful. 

Defining Feral Practice’s artistic practice, Fiona says: “We work with human and non-human beings to create art projects and interdisciplinary events that develop ethical and imaginative connection across species boundaries.

“Our research draws on artistic, scientific and subjective knowledge practices to explore diverse aesthetics and create suggestive spaces of not knowing nature.” 

Painting the egg for Feral Practice’s The Unseeables

Feral Practice is the artist-in-residence for 2020-2021 at Dunham Massey, a National Trust Georgian house, garden and deer park in Cheshire.

The Unseeablesis one of a series of new digital commissions in lockdown from Scarborough Museums Trust in response to the Corona crisis. The trust has asked artists Feral Practice, Kirsty Harris, Jane Poulton, Wanja Kimani, Jade Montserrat, Lucy Carruthers and Estabrak to create digital artworks for released online across assorted social-media platforms.

Still , gold spiral, for Feral Practice’s The Unseeables