Spotlight on: Si Durrant, Trainee Curator at Wheal Martyn Clay Works

We catch up with Si Durrant at Wheal Martyn, one of the Trainee Curators supported by Cornwall Museums Partnership’s NPO programme, to talk about his showcase ‘Clay Stories: unearthing stories from our villages and towns’.

“I am now halfway through my placement as Wheal Martyn’s Trainee Curator. My role at Wheal Martyn primarily involves assisting Jo (Curator) and Nikita (Exhibition and Engagement Officer) with unlocking stories from the collection and archives held at Wheal Martyn. As a Trainee Curator, I have been gaining valuable on-the-job experience and attending training sessions at partner museums across Cornwall. I have already seen great variety in the role of a museum Curator. This has included an introduction to museum accreditation, health and safety training, record keeping, working with schools, collections handling, collections hazards, digitising negatives and, more recently, combining these new skills to curate my first ever showcase exhibition.”

“‘Clay Stories: unearthing stories from our villages and towns’, features a selection of curios from the St. Austell china clay area, with each display telling a unique community story from the last 200 years. Village shops, sports, housing, clothing, forgotten trades, industry, and the impact of two World Wars are represented in the extensive collection.”

“The theme of the showcase is stories from our villages and towns. The majority of our collection focuses on the industrial heritage of the china clay industry; however, buried within these c.10,000 items are certain objects that hold hidden stories about a specific area of the local community. For example, our Rolls Royce figurine and mould represents the relationship between the village of St. Dennis and the Aerospace Industry. In fact, this item has just been nominated for an award – Cornish Object of the Year 2019.”

“My research for the showcase began with a map of the St. Austell china clay district – an area which is bounded by St. Austell Bay in the south and the A390 to the north. This map revealed over 50 villages and hamlets that were in close proximity to clay workings. Once I had a list of villages, I was able to search our onsite database for relevant objects, documents, photographs and film. Over the course of several weeks I was able to shortlist these items and then research the stories behind them. Finally, these stories were condensed into a display in the museum atrium and weekly social media posts.”

“I have really enjoyed the huge variety this internship has offered me and greatly look forward to the next three months.”

Colin Vallance, Director of Wheal Martyn says, “It’s been fantastic to have Si as part of the team, uncovering some of the many stories that are hidden within our museum collection and sharing these with our local communities and visitors. Si’s internship is part funded by the European Social Fund, Arts Council England and Cornwall Council, as part of a Cornwall Museums Partnership NPO programme and we are very grateful for their support.”

‘Clay Stories: unearthing stories from our villages and towns’ is free to enter and runs until the end of February 2019. The showcase coincides with Wheal Martyn’s Cornwall Residents’ Pass Offer; for 12 months, admission passes are available at a reduced price of just £6.50 for an adult ticket.

Wheal Martyn would like to encourage visitors during January and February to discover some of these fascinating stories linked to local villages and towns. If you are inspired to share stories from your own village, pop into the museum, email info@wheal-martyn.com or share them on Facebook (@whealmartyncw).

For more information about the Cornish Object of the Year Award 2019 and to vote click here.

Cornwall museums to receive a multi-million pound boost

It has been announced this morning that the Cornwall Museums Partnership has been awarded £2.44 million by Arts Council England and is now included in its National Portfolio.

The government and Lottery funded arts body, Arts Council England, this morning announced which bodies across the country would receive National Portfolio funding for 2018-2022. The Cornwall Museums Partnership (CMP) was delighted to discover that it will be one of the organisations to receive a share of the £9.4 million funding designated to Cornwall.

The £2.44 million will enable the Cornwall Museums Partnership to deliver a wide-ranging programme of activity across seven museums from Porthcurno to Bodmin which has been designed to bring their internationally significant collections to life for the enjoyment of everyone in Cornwall. This will include new exhibitions, a trainee Curator programme, more opportunities for children and young people and a transformation of the information available online about Cornwall’s heritage.

To deliver this ambitious programme, CMP will be working with Porthcurno Telegraph Museum, Penlee House in Penzance, Helston Museum, Royal Cornwall Museum in Truro, Falmouth Art Gallery, Cornwall Regimental Museum in Bodmin and Wheal Martyn in St Austell.

Cornwall Museum’s Partnership’s CEO, Emmie Kell, said: “We are thrilled with the announcement and Arts Council England’s recognition of the importance of our collaborative approach. This is an exciting and significant moment for museums in Cornwall.”

Sir Ferrers Vyvyan, Chairman of the CMP Board, said: “Cornwall’s museums are a unique shared resource that generate civic pride and a sense of identity in the communities which they actively serve. They care for diverse collections which connect many generations as the objects they hold have both personal and universal significance. Through their programmes and collection displays, museums wield the power to create a sense of wonder: inform, move and inspire. We are delighted that Arts Council England is supporting our plans to share these collections with many more people for the benefit of communities across Cornwall.”

 

Phil Gibby, Area Director, South West, Arts Council England, said: “We are very pleased not only to be renewing our investment in Cornwall Museums Partnership, but also to be increasing our funding for additional activity. The museums’ consortium model is nationally recognised and their skills in widening audiences and engaging people across the county and beyond are exemplary. This additional investment will allow the partnership to bring in new partners in Bodmin and Helston, meaning more people across Cornwall will have access to exciting arts and culture in their communities.”

Other arts organisations in Cornwall who will receive the funding include The Hall for Cornwall Trust, Miracle Theatre, Kneehigh Theatre, Creative Kernow Ltd, Leach Pottery and Newlyn Art Gallery.

The consortium comprises Cornwall’s Regimental Museum, Wheal Martyn, Helston Museum, Penlee House, Falmouth Art Gallery, Royal Cornwall Museum and Telegraph Museum Porthcurno.

More information about Arts Council England’s National Portfolio funding is available here.