Fun Palaces 2019

October is not only the beginning of autumn, it’s also the month where for two days, communities and culture come together in a blur of creativity. Fun Palaces is an annual free weekend and campaign which ‘promotes culture at the heart of community and community at the heart of culture’. Using a combination of arts, craft, science, tech, digital, heritage and sports activities, Fun Palaces is led by local people for local people, giving the opportunity for skills and passions to be shared across the community. Fun Palaces really is a weekend to celebrate cultural democracy.

An abundance of workshops were held across the first weekend of October, including many of the museums in Cornwall who took part in this fantastic campaign. Carry on reading to hear from 7 Cornish museums on their Fun Palace experiences.

Museum of Cornish Life – Helston

Museum of Cornish Life Fun Palaces

Museum of Cornish Life decided upon a Space Art theme where the 1st Landewednack Brownies came to the museum and explored their new exhibition; Lizard Point Residency. Isobel King, Community Engagement Curator for Museum of Cornish life said how, ‘the exhibition celebrates the work created this year at the Lizard Point Residency, as part of a summer of celebration focussed around Goonhilly Earth Station. The Brownies explored the art works and then set about making their own art using the theme of space as their inspiration.

‘Some of the Brownies worked in teams to recycle cardboard to make two giant rockets which they named The Brownie 1000; others made their own spaceships, pictures of galaxies far away and pictures of what life from another planet would look like.’

If you would like to see the art work from this Fun Palaces weekend, the rockets will be on display at the museum as part of the exhibition until the end of the month.

Penlee House and Porthcurno Telegraph Museum

Penlee House Gallery and Museum, Telegraph Museum Porthcurno and Whole Again Communities worked in partnership with Treneere Team Spirit to deliver the Treneere Fun Palace at the Lescudjack Centre in Penzance.

The Fun Palace was created by the Treneere Team Spirit community group, where they had 65 participants take part from the local community.

Penlee House Gallery returned to the event this year, building on their brilliant previous partnership work with Treneere Team Spirit, and delivered a wonderful ‘Collage on Canvas’ hands on activity.

Telegraph Museum Porthcurno hosted ‘I spy treasures’ and ‘Circus skills’ which included cracking a code on pirate doubloons in a sandy treasure chest, juggling with devil sticks and plate spinning! Families were given a ‘I’m a PK star’ sticker and/or a pirate temporary tattoo after taking part.

Kay Dalton of Porthcurno Telegraph Museum said, ‘it was great for us as an organisation to be able to be a part of Fun Palaces for the first time. There was a lot to do and the weekend brought together the communities and really showed off what Fun Palaces is all about.’

‘Great partnership working!’  Treneere Team Spirit.

‘The whole event had such a buzzing, lovely vibe!’  Penlee House Gallery.

‘Children came back to redo our activities again and again, it was great to see how much time they spent having fun together.’  Telegraph Museum Porthcurno.

Wheal Martyn

Wheal Martyn Fun Palaces

Wheal Martyn’s Fun Palace event went incredibly well, with approximately 60 people attending, all of which were families. They had 7 Makers plus Gemma Martin, Education Officer of Wheal Martyn museum, running the activities all day.

There was a wonderful selection of activities on offer, including:

  • Zenology Doodling with Laura Martin from their regular Social Prescribing Arts and Crafts Group
  • Paper Journal Making with Ruth Hills
  • Clay Fun Palace Models with Lynne Simms and Suzy Johnson
  • Story Collections and porcelain figures for the Bucawdden Project and, with Zenna Tagney
  • Planting and gardening workshops with Tam Pemberton from Perennial Harvest
  • Great Biscuit Show Stopper biscuit decorating with Gemma Martin, Wheal Martyn

A great time was had and plenty of lovely feedback with one attendee saying, ‘a lovely idea, my two loved all the different things to do and enjoyed the clay making and biscuit decorating. We’ll be back for more Fun days like this!’ Another person loved it so much that they already can’t wait for the next one, ‘lovely idea, so much to do, friendly atmosphere, something for everyone.  Please do another one soon!’

Falmouth Art Gallery and Library

Fun Palace in Falmouth Art Gallery was a collection of different experiences, run for the Community by Community groups. If you felt creative you could create poems with the Write Café, make your own woolly planet with Cornwool, try a Camel costume from Miracle Theatre, join the Global Cardboard challenge with the engineers from the University of Exeter or the LEGO club in the library, drawing in VR with INTERANIMA, make your own electronic textile bracelets with Touch Craft or have a go at weaving.

If music is your thing, you were able to play bells with Perran Rebells, improvise a song with SING! Choir or create electronic instruments with CO:NOISE project. You could relax in their boardgames café with cakes, tea and coffee from Falmouth Fairtrade. Source FM Community radio was also there interviewing all the community groups involved. It was a great day and one they can’t wait to repeat soon!

Cornwall’s Regimental Museum – Bodmin Keep

At Bodmin Keep, the theme was ‘Building, Making, Playing’, a theme that extended across the whole town, with 8 Fun Palace sites and one roaming Fun Palace. At the Keep, 12 makers produced theatrical wounds and gave reflexology. There was also badge and pom-pom making, engineering challenges with the local Cadets and healthy eating activities with Cornwall Council, as well as a whole host of games to play. There was a quiz to complete, part of a town wide Fun Palaces quiz, encouraging people to visit all the venues over the weekend.

Verity Anthony, Visitor Experience and Collections Manager of the museum said, ‘the day went fantastically, and participants and makers alike had a great time. We’re already thinking ahead to next year!’

Royal Cornwall Museum – Truro

The Royal Cornwall Museum had a plethora of different activities for people to explore, discover and create. Sophie Meyer, Marketing Digital Lead for the museum said, ‘you really felt the community spirit on Fun Palace day. A great range of people who had never been to the Museum before, suddenly spending hours exploring all the different activities on offer. It’s fantastic for the local community to come together and share skills and it’s a joy to host.’

The Royal Cornwall Museum had all sorts of activities such as;

  • Shallal 2 Dance performance inspired by their Face to Face exhibition. Be inspired and check out their video!
  • Lithium extraction and geology games with Cornish Lithium
  • Radio broadcasting with Pirate FM
  • Learning to sing with Hall for Cornwall
  • Learning Cornish
  • Gold Panning

 

If you’d like to take part in or host a Fun Palace weekend, please head to the Fun Palaces website for all the details. The next weekend of action is the 3rd and 4th October 2020.

 

– Jody Woolcock

Marketing and Impact Officer, Cornwall Museums Partnership

Emerging Voices

Becki and Katie

The Emerging Voices bursary supports museum volunteers or emerging professionals to undertake training, research or placement opportunities that enhance their skills and bring new benefits to their host museum.

Becki Brattin and Katie Bunnell decided to apply for the bursary following their experience as Citizen Curators at Falmouth Art Gallery. They have been awarded the bursary to continue developing their project, “Gut Reaction” which focuses on audience responses to the Margaret Whitford Bequest, a collection of 48 contemporary prints and a sculpture acquired by the gallery through the Artfund.

The collection is remarkably vibrant and graphically strong and while individual pieces have been on display, relatively little is known about the provenance of the collection as a whole. Through their research on Margaret as the source of these collected works, Becki and Katie have discovered there are another 25 pieces located in 8 museums and galleries in the UK.

For this post Becki and Katie have answered three key questions:

Why did you want to continue your “Gut Reaction” Citizen Curators project? 

K: With the continuing support of Falmouth Art Gallery, the Emerging Voices Bursary will enable us to pursue research threads we have discovered through the Citizen Curators project, visit the other pieces in Margaret’s collection, find out what we can about their provenance and to chase stories as they emerge.

For us, the idea that it is possible to have a felt, physical reaction to an artwork is fundamental to enabling everyone to respond to art in their own way. From what we have read about Margaret we understand that this was her approach to choosing art and have used this as the basis for our “Gut Reaction” project. We would like to continue to develop this idea through the creation of the digital exhibit and for workshops that connect to it.

B: Our initial Citizen Curators project took quite a natural progression after learning more about Margaret once we spoke to some of her friends about the type of person she was within her professional and personal life. We are now faced with learning a whole lot more information about Margaret’s further collection which is spread around the UK. It seemed very obvious to try and bring an awareness of Margaret’s other pieces together, in this case through a digital experience – building a portrait of a female Cornish collector and celebrating the collection in its entirety.

What are your hopes and expectations for this project?

B: I’m hoping we can do the collection justice and bring about a beautiful digital exhibition with a very ambitious idea of perhaps, bringing some or all pieces together for a physical exhibition (one day!) Also, I will be keen to explore how we will be able to bring to the surface a little about who a female collector is? Is it important, and if so, how does this stance affect galleries today or previously?

We are expecting to document our journey within the project through the use of blogs, vlogs, Podcasts and Instagram. Hopefully building an informative and enjoyable journey for all to evaluate.

K: I think that the Emerging Voices Bursary opens the possibility of seeing Margaret’s dispersed collection, hopefully bringing it together as a digital exhibit that can be shared with many. Personally, I am really interested in trying to see it from her perspective, to understand a bit more about her motivations as a collector and how this relates to her work as a feminist philosopher, and one who started life in a Methodist community in Cornwall.

Why do you think it will be useful to Falmouth Art Gallery?

K: I think it is a great opportunity to try out new ways of creating a digital exhibit, using the story of the collector as a way in to seeing this dispersed collection as a whole. We would like to develop the digital exhibit as a tool that enables audiences to think about and respond to the artworks and the business of collecting from their own perspectives.

B: Falmouth Art Gallery is very fortunate to be the custodians of such a beautiful and vibrant set of prints from the Margaret Whitford Bequest; we like to think that our project will help to raise the profile of the bequest and give the community and beyond the chance to interact and access the collection as a whole, leaving a fantastic digital collection tool for all to explore alongside more extensive history files for Falmouth Art Gallery.

 

– Becki Brattin and Katie Bunnell

Falmouth Art Gallery