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.

Scarborough museums to commission digital works from artists in lockdown times

Feral Practice: Queenright, Ant-ic Actions, 2018-2021, work in progress

SCARBOROUGH Museums Trust is introducing a dynamic approach to its collections, learning and exhibition programming with a series of new digital commissions from artists nationwide in response to the Coronavirus crisis.

The trust, in charge of Scarborough Art Gallery, the Rotunda Museum and Woodend, has been working with Flow Associates to develop a new way of working across the organisation.

This will involve using a method called the “Story of Change”; in a nutshell “defining the change you want before choosing the tools to achieve or measure it”.

Homecoming, A Place, by Estabrak

Andrew Clay, the trust’s chief executive, says: “We want our work to make an impact. Defining that impact before we plan our exhibitions and wider programme means we can ensure we are relevant and responsive to our communities all the time.”

Key to this progression is a commitment towards diversity, inclusion and equality of access, leading to the trust finding innovative ways to promote this message.

A wide range of artists, among them Lucy Carruthers, Estabrak, Kirsty Harris, Wanja Kimani, Jade Montserrat, Jane Poulton and Feral Practice, have been asked to create digital artworks, to be released online over the next four months across myriad social media platforms.

Dust, mixed media, by Wanja Kimani, 2019

Clay says: “It’s so important to have access to the arts and culture at this difficult time: for many people, they’re a thought-provoking lifeline and have a proven positive effect on our mental health.”

Simon Hedges, the trust’s head of curation, collections and exhibitions, says: “Museums and galleries have a social responsibility to support communities, now more than ever before.

“We can provide a platform for creative expression that enables artists to share their messages to communities in lockdown. Their artworks can support personal wellbeing or become an opportunity to consider some of these wider issues.”

Ave Maria Gracia Plena, by Jane Poulton

As part of its commitment to access, the trust has been working with artistic producer Sophie Drury-Bradey and disability activists Touretteshero to ensure people with diverse minds and bodies can become more engaged in its work.

Hedges says: “Before the lockdown, we started to explore how access can be a creative stimulus for our projects and how to extend a warm welcome to our disabled communities.

“We’re now looking at the lockdown as an opportunity to continue this work and find creative and imaginative ways of ensuring people can access our digital content.”

Shhh, Did You Hear That, by Kirsty Harris. Picture: © National Trust, Sutton House

The trust has committed to embrace a range of access “tools” to accompany the digital content to support as many people as possible to connect. Scarborough illustrator Savannah Storm, for example, will create visual guides, or “social stories”, to provide audiences with downloadable information on what to expect before accessing digital content.

Alongside this, subtitles will be used wherever possible, with audio descriptions to follow. The first Gallery Screenings Online event this evening at 7pm will incorporate a live Q&A session being accompanied by live captioning.

Audio descriptions will support children and families with visual access requirements for the first digital commission by Kirsty Harris, narrated by 11-year-old Ruby Lynskey, from Scarborough.

Shadowing Revue – Ecclesiastes v Watercolour, gouache, ink and pen on paper, by Jade Montserrat, 2017. Collection of York Art Gallery

Supporting children and families to access content is important to the trust’s learning manager, Christine Rostron: “We’re looking at a range of ways to help families engage with the learning activities we’re about to launch online in fun, age-appropriate ways,” she says. “Using a local child to produce audio descriptions is much more relatable than the voice of an adult BBC presenter!”

The trust’s intention is to continue this work for the long term, as Clay reasons: “Being inclusive and accessible is not an add-on: it’s becoming part of our DNA.”

The artists involved in the New Digital Commissions project all will be participating in exhibitions at Scarborough Art Gallery and the Rotunda in 2021.

“We want our work to make an impact,” says Andrew Clay, chief executive of Scarborough Museums Trust. Picture: Tony Bartholomew

Lucy Carruthers will explore how we forge connections at a time of distancing. Her interest in the relationship between inside and outside is all the more pertinent during lockdown, wherein she asks how social isolation affects museum objects.

Estabrak’s Homecoming is a multi-layered touring and participatory project using community engagement, film, sound and paint for cross-cultural exchanges built around home, identity, and displacement.

The project started in 2019 in Hull and Brighton and now Estabrak will conduct the social experiment Homecoming: A Placeless Place, inviting honest expression and participation through ultraviolet light, invisible ink and dark spaces, introduced digitally to communities in Scarborough. 

Estabrak: One of the artists taking part in Scarborough Museums Trust’s New Digital Commissions project.. Picture: Ali Al Sharji

Kirsty Harris is constructing a new digital project for children and families during social distancing that imaginatively will bring to life objects in the trust collection to connect with children struggling with social isolation.

Wanja Kimani will be creating walking journeys from a child’s eye view as she spends more time noticing the world around her and her sensory experiences become amplified.

Jade Montserrat will consider the socio-political impact of lockdown and “encourage us to discover new ways of being based on mutual support, rather than a model that exacerbates existing social inequalities”.

Jade Montserrat, working on her The Last Place They Thought Of installation, Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania. Picture: Constance Mensh

Jane Poulton’s series of photographs and text will focus on personal objects she owns in order to consider whether those that mean the most to us are often acquired at times of crisis and what comfort they bring.

Feral Practice will develop a digital artwork leading to a major commission on the theme of extinction for 2021.

The new digital works will be available to view shortly via Scarborough Museums Trust’s:

Website: scarboroughmuseumstrust.com

YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8-gck0CM7gVFcsZHMAIcDw

Twitter: @SMTrust

Instagram: @scarboroughmuseums

Facebook: @scarboroughmuseums

Floodproof, Travelling Series, by Lucy Carruthers

Scarborough Art Gallery to launch series of online screenings on Tuesday nights

Great Bustard, from the Scarborough Collections. Picture: Tony Bartholomew

SCARBOROUGH Art Gallery will begin a series of online film nights with When Species Meet this evening (28/4/2020).

Gallery Screenings Online, on the last Tuesday of each month from 7pm, will feature films selected to give audiences a new perspective on both visiting exhibitions and the permanent Scarborough Collections, followed by a question-and-answer session.

The series will have features aimed at making them as accessible to as many people as possible. Each event will have optional live captions from a stenographer; downloading the app version of Zoom is recommended for those wishing to use this function. 

Artist and designer Lucy Carruthers and collections manager Jim Middleton: an image from the social story, illustrated by Savannah Storm

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. 

The first screening, When Species Meet, will look at captive and extinct animals and how film has been used to represent them, opening with Bert Haanstra’s nine-minute documentary Zoo, followed by Leanne Allison and Jeremy Mendes’ 20-minute interactive film Bear 71. 

Filmed in 1962 and nominated for a 1963 BAFTA Award for Best Short Film, Zoo compares the behaviour of animals and humans, using a hidden camera to capture the true nature of both man and beast.

Great Auk egg, from the Scarborough Collections. Picture: David Chalmers

Bear 71 explores the life of a grizzly bear in Banff National Park, monitored by wildlife conservation offices from 2001 to 2009. The film “gives viewers the experience of ‘being’ a bear”, exploring how one animal’s life is interlinked and affected by the movements of humans and animals around it. 

The screenings will be followed by a 30-minute Q&A with Jim Middleton, collections manager at Scarborough Museums Trust, who will discuss the natural history collections within the archive, and with artist and designer Lucy Carruthers.

Andrew Clay, Scarborough Museums Trust’s chief executive, says: “Increasing access to our events, whether they are online or in our venues, is really important to us. No-one should feel excluded. We hope the visual guides and subtitles will support more people from our communities to participate in our activities.”

Film programmer Martha Cattell: email her for access to Gallery Screenings Online. Image: Susannah Storm

Film programmer Martha Cattell says: “Scarborough Museums Trust has a large collection of taxidermy animals locked away in the stores. Some of the species represented – the great bustard, the great auk, of which we have a rare egg, the passenger pigeons, Captain Cook’s bean snail – are now extinct largely due to human intervention.

“Their bodies now rest, static and captive in the archives. They are ghosts of species lost and haunted by the human actions that led to their demise.”

Simon Hedges, the trust’s head of curation, collections and exhibitions, says: “ We launched the Gallery Screenings programme at Scarborough Art Gallery in early March and then, of course, had to cancel it after the first one because of the Coronavirus lockdown.

Chatscreen: another illustration from the virtual guide by Susannah Storm

“We’re absolutely delighted to be able to continue these fascinating events online. They will return to the gallery once we reopen to the public.”

Access to the Gallery Screenings Online event this evening is by password only, available, along with a link, by emailing Martha.cattell@smtrust.uk.com   

The social story for When Species Meet can be downloaded at https://bit.ly/2W0oOe6. The Q&A and introduction will be available post-event on Scarborough Museums Trust’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8-gck0CM7gVFcsZHMAIcDw.

Easter activities stay at home as Scarborough museums put fun online

Easter activities organised by Scarborough Museums Trust are going online. Picture: Tony Bartholomew.

SCARBOROUGH Museums Trust is taking its fun Easter activities online.

Amid the Covid-19 lockdown, the trust has had to suspend its usual drop-in activities at the Rotunda Museum, Scarborough Art Gallery and Woodend, instead making them available via its website, scarboroughmuseumstrust.com, and on social media.

From Thursday, April 9, you can have a go at making your own “Roarsome” Easter bonnet to wear with pride.

The Rotunda Museum, Scarborough. Picture: Tony Bartholomew

From Wednesday, April 15, you can gain inspiration from the trust’s springtime artworks and make a flowery print to decorate your home.  

Scarborough Museums Trust’s learning officer, Christine Rostron, says: “All the activities are inspired by our collections and use everyday art materials. 

Scarborough Art Gallery. Picture: Tony Batholomew

“We hope you have fun making things at home and would love to find out how you’re getting on. Please share your creations with us on social media: @Scarboroughmuseums (Facebook), @scarboroughmuseums (Instagram) and @SMTrust (Twitter), using the hashtags #MuseumFromHome #loveScarborough.

“We’re really going to miss seeing all the families and children who normally visit our venues over the holidays. Sending us pictures is great way for us to keep in touch.”

Squid’s in as Scarborough Museums Trust’s magic lantern slides prove popular online

Washed up: a giant squad on Scarborough’s North Bay beach on January 14 1933, pictured in a magic lantern slide. Picture: Scarborough Museums Trust

HISTORIC magic lantern slides from the Scarborough Collections are an online hit in these dark days. 

As part of Scarborough Museums Trust’s response to the Coronavirus shutdown,  collections manager Jim Middleton is posting regular images from the stock of slides and glass-plate negatives on Twitter, using the hashtag #lockdownlanternslides.

The North Bay Pier, after the storm damage in 1905

The response has been “remarkable”, he says: “We’re getting comments and queries from other museums, historians and the public nationwide. This includes an interaction the other day with the Natural History Museum in London, who contacted us during a series of posts themed around cephalopods, the family of marine animals that includes octopus and squid.”

Middleton had posted an image of a 5.3m-long giant squid that had been washed up on the North Bay beach on January 14 1933, pictured surrounded by curious Scarborough locals.

Pier-less: The North Bay Pier destroyed by the 1905 storm

“We’d always known that they had the beak of the squid, but they got in touch to say they had the whole animal preserved in their archive,” says Middleton. “We’ll be hoping to get a better look at it when we can.”

Among other themes being explored are historic local buildings, some of them no longer in existence, such as the North Bay pleasure pier, destroyed in a storm in 1905, and vintage seaside scenes of children rock pooling and bathing-beauty contests.

The North Bay Pier, pictured from the other side, in one of the magic lantern slides

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

The Scarborough Collections – the name given to all the museum objects owned by the Borough of Scarborough – contains more than 7,000 slides and glass plates, in the care of Scarborough Museums Trust.

Storm damage: the collapsed North Bay Pier in Scarborough in 1905

The images posted daily by Middleton can be seen by following @SMT_Collections on Twitter. To view existing posts, search #lockdownlanternslides.

The Rotunda Museum, Scarborough Art Gallery and Woodend, all run by Scarborugh Museums Trust, are closed until further notice.

Scarborough: the poster magnet to penguins, courting couples and tonic seekers in nostalgic exhibition

Penguins at Scarborough? Anything is possible in a tourism poster

VINTAGE posters from a golden age of travel and tourism will go on display at Woodend, The Crescent, Scarborough, on Saturday.

Dating from the 1910s to the 1960s, the posters in Scarborough: A Day At The Seaside were issued by the-then Scarborough Corporation’s tourism department and by rail companies operating in the area.

Just the tonic: taking a holiday at Scarborough

On show from the coming weekend to April 26, they will include such nostalgic images as a family of penguins seeking shade under a parasol on Scarborough’s South Bay beach, alongside other bright and idyllic scenes from a bygone era.

The prints are all taken from the 200-plus original posters held in the Scarborough Collections, under the care of Scarborough Museums Trust.

Scarborough Open Air Theatre…as it was in 1938

Andrew Clay, the trust’s chief executive, says: “This will be a vibrant and colourful exhibition recalling an age when travelling by train for a holiday at the seaside was the height of sophistication.”

Limited-edition prints of the posters on display will be available to buy, all at the actual size.

Scarborough: the essence of coastal sophistication for courting couples in 1932

Woodend is open Mondays to Fridays, 9am to 5pm, and Saturdays and Sundays, 10am to 4pm. Entry is free.