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

Are you seeking ideas for Scarborough’s Great Get Together postcard competition?

Lantern slide of a fairground ride in Scarborough. Copyright: Scarborough Museums Trust

SCARBOROUGH Museums Trust is supporting the East Coast resort’s Great Get Together event for the second year running.

The trust is providing inspiration for a postcard competition on the theme of Scarborough Fair. 

Organised by We Are Scarborough and Say Hello Coast, the event is inspired by the Jo Cox Foundation’s national Great Get Together: a celebration of the late Labour MP for Batley and Spen’s life and her vision of bringing people together.

Like many such events this year, Scarborough’s Great Get Together will take place online over the weekend of June 19 to 21.

It will feature three competitions: creating a postcard competition; song lyrics and a multi-genre competition for writers, poets, model-makers and performers. 

The trust’s learning manager, Christine Rostron, says: “If children or adults want to take part in the Get Together at Scarborough Fair postcard competition, but need some ideas and inspiration, Scarborough Museums Trust is here to help.

Cotton Bud Carousel Horse by Vivien Steiner

“In collaboration with Scarborough artists Helen Ventress and Vivien Steiner, we’ve pulled together some pictures from our collection and specially commissioned artworks introducing simple art techniques.

“These include painting, printing, collage, sculpture and photography, with simple ideas suitable for both young children and adults who like to get creative.” 

These ideas will be available on the We Are Scarborough Facebook page and website, as well as being posted on the trust’s Facebook page, https://engb.facebook.com/scarboroughmuseums/, and on Twitter, @smtrust.

All three competitions will have first and second prizes for entrants aged 11 and under, 12 to 18 and over 18. They are open to everyone and are family friendly, so the organisers ask all those posting entries to bear that in mind.

The closing date for entries is midnight on Monday, June 15, and the winners will be announced online during the Great Get Together weekend.

Scarborough has joined in with the national Great Get Together celebrations for the past three years. Rather than miss out this year, it was decided to go ahead in a way that would bring people together safely in celebration of the town, borough and key workers.

For more information on the Great Get Together, full details on entering the competitions and more about Scarborough Fair and its history, go to: facebook.com/TheGreatGetTogetherScarborough or wearescarborough.co.uk/.

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.

Jane Poulton travels from stardust to stardust for digital Scarborough gallery

Curl, by Jane Poulton, from her From Stardust To Stardust gallery

WELCOME to From Stardust To Stardust, a new Instagram gallery by artist Jane Poulton for Scarborough Museums Trust’s innovative series of digital commissions.

Poulton’s seven photographic and text-based images “consider how personal objects can bring to mind moments of deep emotion from our own private histories”.

One photographic artwork will be released each day on the social media platform @scarboroughmuseums for seven days from Tuesday, May 26. The gallery subsequently will be available on the website scarboroughmuseumstrust.com

The trust wants From Stardust To Stardust to be accessible to everyone, so the gallery will include image descriptions and audio files for those who might find them helpful. 

Poulton says: “During exploratory work for this project, I used cherished objects of my own to suggest similarities between museum collections and objects we hold dear ourselves.

Gryphaea, by Jane Poulton, from the From Stardust To Stardust series of seven images for Scarborough Museums Trust

“For example, a gryphaea fossil I found on my local beach gave me – the moment I held it in my hand – a flash of insight into the theory that every living thing on our planet comes from, and returns to, stardust. That brought me great comfort.”

“From stardust to stardust” was the phrase Poulton used to describe that experience. “It’s now the title for this project, which reflects on moments of personal uncertainty, fear or loss – my own and other people’s – through small objects that recall those times,” she says. 

“Though charms or mementos such as these have no measurable influence on the course of events, their power lies in what, or who, they represent.”

From Stardust To Stardust forms part of a series of digital commissions from Scarborough Museums Trust in response to the Corona crisis. The trust has asked Poulton, Kirsty Harris, Lucy Carruthers, Estabrak, Wanja Kimani, Jade Montserrat and Feral Practice to create digital artworks to be released online across social media platforms over the next four months. 

Originally trained in textiles, Poulton is a visual artist and writer who creates “socially engaged participatory projects that create a long-term impact and lasting legacy”. She has worked on many projects with members of the public, not least distinctly identified groups, particularly within community learning settings, where she aims to build confidence and give a voice to those whose views otherwise might not be heard.

What is invariably present but often overlooked in maritime paintings? The sea. Not so at May 26 online film night and Q&A

A still from Hondartza Fraga’s Upon A Painted Ocean, 2015

THE online tide comes in for The Sea Around Us, the latest film night at home from Scarborough Art Gallery, on May 26 at 7pm.

Six short films and audio recordings will be accompanied by a question-and-answer session with artists Daniel & Clara, Hondartza Fraga and Amy Sharrocks, from the Museum of Water.

Under discussion will be their depictions of the sea and its use more generally as an artistic subject.

Dutch Fishing Boats, by John Wilson Carmichael, 1860, Scarborough Collections, Scarborough Art Gallery

Among the films looking at the sea as an element of marine paintings will be:

Louis Lumière, La Mer/The Sea, 1895, 35 seconds: One of the first films ever screened to the public, shown at the first such screening in Paris in December 28 1895.

Hondartza Fraga, Upon A Painted Sea, 2015, 2.58 minutes: A film that seeks to bring a focus back to the sea that is “otherwise only a backdrop in paintings depicting the military and economic power of the Dutch republic”.

Daniel and Clara, Exterior Series, EXT. WAVES, 2017, 21 minutes: Part of a series that strips away as many other elements as possible to focus on the direct relationship between the recording device – in this case a VHS camera – and the natural environment.

“The sea as a subject in its own right is often overlooked,” says Gallery Screenings Online film programmer Martha Cattell

Martha Cattell, Scarborough Museums Trust’s guest film programmer, says: “Scarborough Art Gallery has a great many marine paintings in its collection. The sea as a subject in its own right is often overlooked and, more widely, often absent in discussions on marine-painted subjects.

“This screening will reconsider this and think about the main subject that is usually present in marine paintings, but so often overlooked: the sea. It will consider water through the personal, political and material.”

The Sea Around Us forms part of the Gallery Screenings Online series, held on the last Tuesday of each month, each night featuring films selected to give audiences a new perspective on both visiting exhibitions and the permanent Scarborough Collections, followed by a Q&A.

The Brig ‘Herbert’, ship portrait, by M Scurr, 1843, Scarborough Collections, Scarborough Art Gallery

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

Access to the Gallery Screenings Online event on May 26 is by password only, available, along with a link, by emailing Martha at Martha.cattell@smtrust.uk.com. Please email the same address for access to the social story.

Isabelle, ship portrait, by unknown artist, 19th century, Scarborough Collections, Scarborough Art Gallery

The Q&A and introduction also will be available post-event on Scarborough Museums Trust’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8-gck0CM7gVFcsZHMAIcDw

For further information on Hondartza Fraga, go to https://www.hondartzafraga.com; Daniel & Clara: https://daniel-clara.co.uk; Amy Sharrocks and the Museum of Water: http://www.museumofwater.co.uk.

Could this be earliest photo of mysterious Scarborough landmark Hairy Bob’s Cave?

Hairy Bob’s Cave, behind the tank, in Marine Drive, Scarborough in 1919

WHAT may be the earliest photo in existence of the mysterious Scarborough landmark of Hairy Bob’s Cave has been spotted by an eagle-eyed Twitter follower.

The huge boulder, carved with a door and windows, stands on the resort’s Marine Drive in the shadow of the headland topped by Scarborough Castle.

The origins of this object of fascination for locals and visitors alike are uncertain,  but as part of Scarborough Museums Trust’s response to the Coronavirus-enforced shutdown, collections manager Jim Middleton is posting daily themed images from the trust’s collection of lantern slides, glass plate negatives, photographs and postcards on Twitter. 

When Jim tweeted a photograph of a First World War tank among a set of images on the theme of war and defence, Scarborough musician Anthony Springall was quick to make contact to point out that Hairy Bob’s Cave was in the background, suggesting it could be the earliest image of this curio.

Hairy Bob’s Cave, the mysterious Scarborough landmark, in May 2020. Picture: Tony Bartholomew

Jim says: “No-one is really sure who created Hairy Bob’s Cave, or why, but the most plausible story is that it was made by the men who built the Marine Drive in the early 1900s; its location is exactly where the goods yard for the build was.”

Now he has declared a challenge: “We’d love to hear from anyone who thinks they might have an earlier image of it,” he says.

The tank was presented to Scarborough on July 18 1919 by the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of York on behalf of the Treasury as a token of thanks for all the money raised by the town during the war.

“According to a contemporary article in the Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer, by three special efforts Scarborough had raised over £300,000 and had invested war loans and bonds well over a million pounds, which was an enormous amount at the time,” says Jim.

The goods yard for the Marine Drive construction in Scarborough, early 20th century

He added that the first intention had been to display the tank in the Castle grounds, but it was thought the roads up to the castle might not be sufficiently stable for the heavy load.

“What became of it, we don’t know,” he says. “But exposure to sea spray and heavy storms would suggest that it probably rusted in a relatively short time.”

Magic lanterns were early image projectors that used a light source to magnify and project images on glass for both education and entertainment purposes, particularly during the 19th and early 20th centuries.

The Scarborough Collections contain more than 7,000 such slides and glass plates, in the care of Scarborough Museums Trust, which runs the Rotunda Museum, Scarborough Art Gallery and Woodend.

You can see the images that Jim is posting daily by following @SMT_Collections on Twitter. To view existing posts, search #lockdownlanternslides.