May 1st 2019

Spotlight on: Citizen Curators at Wheal Martyn


In this blog we catch up with the Citizen Curator team at Wheal Martyn Clay Works about their experiences of the Citizen Curator programme and their new free exhibition ‘Engineering the Earth’.

The exhibition has been put together by Wheal Martyn’s three volunteer Citizen Curators: Carol Weir, Simon Dunham and Imogen Law, who have been mentored by Nikita Brown Wheal Martyn’s Exhibitions and Engagement Officer. Their showcase investigates the role of science and engineering in the china clay industry, particularly looking at the paper-making industry, the use of kaolin (a type of clay found near St. Austell) in cosmetics, and a local engineer – topics which represent the breadth and depth of this vast theme.

The Citizen Curators are encouraging visitors to get involved with the exhibition by guessing the items in the mystery cabinet, sharing knowledge of paper-making industry workers in Cornwall, and checking the ingredients on their cosmetics to see if they contain kaolin, even experts might learn something new!

One of the exhibition cabinets showcasing the paper-making industry.

The Citizen Curator group says, “We hope this exhibition inspires you to also take an interest in museum collections and perhaps volunteer for the next Citizen Curators course.”

Wheal Martyn is one of seven museums across Cornwall participating in the Citizen Curators programme. This programme aims to encourage a more active interest in the collections cared for on behalf of the public and involve people from the local community. The three-year project, led by Dr Tehmina Goskar of the Curatorial Research Centre, is supported by the Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund, administered by the Museums Association, and is part of Wheal Martyn’s Arts Council England supported partnership programme led by Cornwall Museums Partnership.

Tehmina says, “Citizen Curators is all about unearthing the hidden joys of our historical collections so that more people can learn something new from them. That’s exactly what the Wheal Martyn team are doing through their research and this exhibition. We feel very privileged to have supported their journey.”

 

Some of the photographs in the Wheal Martyn collection about the local engineers.

The Citizen Curators say, “We have enjoyed the opportunity Wheal Martyn and the Citizen Curators project have given us, from exploring the other museums and galleries of Cornwall to the discussions and activities we worked on in the classes. Our volunteering has not only given us a glimpse behind the scenes of Wheal Martyn and its dedicated staff but also taught us much about the local area.”

A showcase about the use of kaolin clay (found locally in St. Austell) in the cosmetic industry.

‘Engineering the Earth’ runs from 6th April – 11th October in Wheal Martyn’s Atrium. Find out more about the exhibition and get updates on Wheal Martyn’s social media: Facebook @whealmartyncw, Twitter @WhealMartyn, and Instagram @whealmartyn. If you have any information on the objects in the exhibition you can join in on social media using the hashtags #citizencurators #stawesome #whealmartyn. You can also follow the Curatorial Research Centre on Twitter @CuratorialRC.

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