Captaining the Ceres – the Bude Coastal Timetripping Experience

In this latest guest blog by wAVE Digital Marketing Intern, Magali Guastalegnanne, we learn more about the Coastal Timetripping experiences developed by the wAVE (Augmented and Virtual Experiences) Project. These blogs are a chance to give a deeper insight into the location, development, as well as the history that inspired the Coastal Timetripping experiences. We will examine both the technology used for the experiences, and the cultural inheritance of the area that they focus on. This blog will be focusing on the Bude Castle and Heritage Centre’s experience – ‘Captaining the Ceres’.

Two women walk past the large exterior of a pale brick Victorian building - the Castle Bude.

The Bude Castle and Heritage Centre is a castle built by Sir Goldsworthy Gurney in 1830. The museum is divided into themed areas which represent key elements of Bude’s cultural heritage, including the fascinating history behind the castle itself. We worked closely with the Heritage Centre to develop the ideas behind this experience, as well as to create the space where the Timetripping experience would be set up. ‘Captaining the Ceres’ uses virtual reality to simulate the experience of taking the helm of the old merchant ketch, the Ceres, and then guiding her safely into Bude’s iconic canal. This experience was developed with two parts of Bude’s history in mind – the canal and the Ceres herself.

Bude canal, in the 19th century, was a unique and world-renowned engineering feat that became the beating heart of Bude’s trade and commerce. It was built in 1823 to transport Bude’s mineral-rich sand further inland where soil was poor. The magnitude of this project was incredible. When it was first built the canal stretched for thirty-five miles and cost £118,000 to build – an incredible amount of money at the time. For all its ingenuity, the treacherous rocks the ship had to pass before it could even enter the canal took real skill to navigate. Though a surviving film clip of the Ceres gliding into the canal, that helped inspire Bude’s Timetripping experience, may make it look easy (you can watch the film here at 4.00). The Ceres has an interesting and lengthy history. Built in 1811 she began life as a fruit trading vessel between Spain and England, and even went onto serve in the Peninsula war. She was then sold to a Bude family and was handed down for three generations, until she fatefully went down in 1936 at the grand old age of 125 – an impressive age for a wooden ship created before the era of metal and steam, and that had continuously done service.

A model historic ship in a tank at the Bude Castle Heritage Centre.

This was the inspiration for Bude’s Coastal Timetripping experience, which was developed by Falmouth University. The greatest challenge, as well as one of the main appeals of the experience, was the hours of work that went into creating a detailed but large coastline complete with significant landmarks. As visitors sail the Ceres they will have the chance to see Bude from a new viewpoint, and familiar landmarks that they may have seen before or find after the experience, like Compass Point, Barrel Rock, and the breakwater are given a unique angle and perspective. Many of these landmarks were more than mere points of interest in the 19th century, they were important markers by which sailors could safely navigate their way past the coast and into the canal. Even the entry into the canal, and functioning of the lock, have been carefully designed to operate exactly as they would’ve done, so that visitors can gain an understanding of this central part of Bude’s history.

A young woman with dark curly hair holds a ship's steering wheel attached to a wall and wears a large black VR headset - an immersive technology experience at the Castle Bude.

If you’re interested, you can try the Bude Coastal Timetripping experience for yourself at the Bude Castle Heritage Centre by booking a place here. There is a booking system in place to make sure Covid-19 regulations are followed, as the virtual reality headsets are sterilised using UV rays, which kill bacteria and viruses, including Covid-19, between visitors. There is space for two people at a time, one of which is designed to be wheel-chair friendly. If you’d like to know more about the wAVE project, then you can check out our webpage here. Or you can watch the film which we created about wAVE here.

 

– Magali Guastalegnanne, wAVE Digital Marketing Intern

 

You can find out more about the other immersive experiences on the official Coastal Timetripping website.

Jan van Huysum Visits: Dutch Masterpiece Comes to Cornwall

PRESS RELEASE

A painting of a full vase of colourful painted flowers

Cornwall Museums Partnership (CMP) is delighted to announce its partnership with the National Gallery and Concern Wadebridge to welcome Jan van Huysum Visits to Cornwall following the positive response to Artemisia Visits in 2019.

As part of a tour of six locations across the nation this summer, Van Huysum’s magnificent Flowers in a Terracotta Vase (1736–7) will pop up in unusual or unexpected non-museum venues; locations include a food bank and community library, a covered market, a former department store and community centres.  Besides Cornwall, the painting will also visit Norfolk, the East Midlands, South Yorkshire, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Jan van Huysum Visits is part of the National Gallery’s national partnerships exhibition programme, which aims to share paintings across the UK, creating a range of ways for the widest possible audience to explore and be inspired by the collection. Each display will explore one of six ‘Ways to Wellbeing’: Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Keep Learning, Give, and Care (for the Planet).

The Sir John Betjeman Centre in Wadebridge has been chosen as an excellent location for the exhibition as a community hub that supports people over 50 or who have a disability, and a special place of intergenerational connection. Flowers in a Terracotta Vase, which shows over 30 species of flowers and plants in bloom, will be on display for public viewing at the Sir John Betjeman Centre from Tuesday 8th to Sunday 13th June 2021 between the hours of 9am and 4pm, with the exception of Saturday 12th June when the centre will be open from 9am to 2pm.

Jeremy Rowe, Manager of Concern Wadebridge, said: ‘Concern Wadebridge is delighted to be able to welcome the National Gallery to the John Betjeman Centre. A love of the arts is embedded in this part of Cornwall and it will be a wonderful opportunity for the community to be able to see such a fantastic piece at such close quarters.’

CMP’s purpose is to achieve positive social change with museums and their collections; by working with community partners such as the Sensory Trust, Concern Wadebridge and the Memory Café network, as well as local schools and community groups, CMP believes this tour could have a far-reaching legacy  and will positively impact Cornish communities well beyond Wadebridge.

Emmie Kell, CEO at Cornwall Museums Partnership, commented: ‘When we were approached by the National Gallery, we were delighted to accept their invitation to work in partnership. Our charity is committed to creating positive social change with museums and we believe that this project demonstrates how art can promote health and wellbeing, creating opportunities for communities to connect and create together. We hope that this partnership will be the catalyst for more of the country’s national collections being available for the people of Cornwall to learn about and enjoy’.

At the heart of Jan van Huysum Visits is engagement with local communities. In each setting the Gallery is working closely with the venue as well as a local museum or gallery to ensure that as many people as possible can engage with the painting and make it come alive in new and different ways.

National Gallery Director, Dr Gabriele Finaldi, says, ‘This astounding, large flower painting will make an unexpected appearance in unexpected venues across the country. I hope it will make people think about art and the beauty of nature, encourage their own creativity and inspire them to visit their own local museum or art collection.’

CMP have been working locally with children and young people to develop alternative interpretative labels to accompany the painting. Trainee Curators, who are part of a programme funded by the John Ellerman Foundation offering paid internships to five young people at Cornish museums, have also been lucky to work alongside the National Gallery to produce the official interpretation which will accompany the piece.

The National Gallery has also provided resources for local primary and secondary schools in Wadebridge to interact with the tour and build a visit to the masterpiece into their curriculum.

As part of our commitment to creating a more inclusive sector, CMP has worked hard to ensure that the impact of this tour will be felt beyond Wadebridge. Collaborating with the Sensory Trust, CMP hopes to facilitate increased engagement with the exhibition by delivering resource packs to 10 care homes and 10 primary schools in remote locations across Cornwall so that those whose cannot visit the Dutch masterpiece in person are nonetheless able to interact with and benefit from the tour.

Ellie Robinson-Carter, Creative Spaces Project Officer at the Sensory Trust, commented: ‘At the Sensory Trust we thrive on creating opportunities for people to access the outdoors and connect with nature in sensory-rich, creative ways. This exciting project is a fantastic and unique opportunity for our beneficiaries to connect with nature, themselves and one another, greatly expanding their sense of community. This year has taught us what is possible when shifting the focus to remote engagement, despite all the challenges, and this project will be the perfect way of sharing and adding to this learning even more’.

Wadebridge Memory Café, which supports people living with memory loss to live well, is also really looking forward to Jan Huysum Visits, and is planning to organise groups to sit with the painting and talk about what they see. The Café have not been able to meet physically since March 2020 so for many this will be the first opportunity to meet with friends back at the John Betjeman Centre. There is lots of research to show that looking and engaging with pictures is helpful for those with memory loss; this is something the group have been doing regularly through their Memory Cafe Online events over the past year.

This project is supported by Art Explora – Académie des Beaux-Arts Award

Insurance has been gifted by Blackwall Green

 

You can view the full press release and notes to editors as a PDF here: National-Gallery-Press-Release

Image Credit:

Jan van Huysum
Flowers in a Terracotta Vase
1736-7
Oil on canvas, 133.5 x 91.5 cm
Bought, 1869
NG796

A Day in the Life: Eilish Calnan, Citizen Curator at Wheal Martyn

Welcome to our blog series, ‘A Day in the Life…’ which features individuals at CMP and our partner museums and what they get up to on a typical day at work. Next up is Eilish Calnan, a participant of the 2021 Citizen Curators programme with a placement at Wheal Martyn Clay Works.

Citizen Curators is a free work-based training programme in museum awareness and modern curatorial practice aimed at volunteers from our community. The programme is provided by Cornwall Museums Partnership in collaboration with seven museums, with the main goal of providing a new form of meaningful museum participation. The programme is led by Dr. Tehmina Goskar, Curator and Director of the Curatorial Research Centre. 

Read on to learn more about Eilish’s experience of the programme so far

A landscape of green hills and blue sky with a historic chimney in the foreground - taken at Wheal Martyn Clay Works, St Austell

My name is Eilish Calnan and I am currently taking part in Citizen Curators, run by Cornwall
Museums Partnership in conjunction with the Curatorial Research Centre. The programme aims
to democratise the curation process, as well as provide training on curating and a space to learn
and discuss the issues currently facing the act of curating and the wider museum world. I have
just finished my BA in History at the University of Exeter, here in Cornwall on the Penryn
campus, and have been deeply interested in museum studies; as well as Celtic Studies with a
particular focus on Cornwall and Ireland, and so I grabbed the opportunity to work with Wheal
Martyn Museum in St Austell!

Wheal Martyn is the world’s only known museum dedicated to the material China Clay, also
known as kaolin clay. Mining is intimately linked with the history of Cornwall, but most people
focus on the tin and copper mining of West Cornwall, with the striking engine houses
overlooking rocky cliffs and turbulent seas; many forget the history of China Clay in East
Cornwall. Wheal Martyn tells the story of the mine which shares the museum’s name, but also
the wider story of China Clay, from mining to refining, to the products made possible by China
Clay and the stories of the workers. This year’s Citizen Curator project focuses on the latter; the
lives of China Clay workers, then and now. This project piqued my interest for its link to
industrial heritage, but not the typical Cornish story, and for the social history aspect. To me,
social history is the most interesting aspect of the past; it is the element of history that allows us to emphasise and emote with people who lived before us and often in industrial history, this is the missing element. The Citizen Curators, under the guidance of Sian Powell, aim to fill in this blank and tell the stories of the people who worked in China Clay, rather than just the processes used to extract the material.

A landscape showing the outline of hills in the background against a darkening evening sky, with a pool in the foreground reflecting the sky and clouds - taken at Wheal Martyn Clay Works, St Austell

Of course, a blog post about this year’s Citizen Curator Programme would not be complete
without a mention of the COVID-19 pandemic, a barrier and a blessing. I’m based in Falmouth
and realistically, had the programme not been online, I would not have been able to take part in
it since Wheal Martyn is a good distance away from me, but the disadvantage of not really being
able to physically engage with the history of the China Clay workers has been present. My main
resource has been the Cornish Memory website, where there is a huge wealth of photographs
from Wheal Martyn, as well as a number of other collections. The British Newspaper Archive
has also been helpful, as has the help of the China Clay History Society. Being restricted to
online resources has really been a learning curve but luckily, the sessions led by Tehmina
Goskar have been incredibly helpful in advising on how to navigate the world of online research.

My specific research has been quite broad, rather than looking at a specific element such as
women at Wheal Martyn, I have sought information on the simple everyday life of the workers.
What did people do in their free time, how did they celebrate occasions and what was life like
once the working day was over? Tug of war and other sports as well as brass bands and going
to church all played a part in the life of China Clay workers. Myself and the other Citizen
Curators are currently in the process of working out the logistics of presenting our research,
which is super exciting and it’s so lovely to be interacting with people (and the past) in real life!

More about my experience with the Citizen Curators Programme (as well as Celtic and public
history, and the perils of job hunting in Cornwall!) can be found on my Twitter account
@historyeilish

 

– Eilish Calnan, Citizen Curator at Wheal Martyn Clay Works