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May 2015

Vinyl Records in Fragile?

Posted by Penelope Hines on 27 May 2015

Images of vinyl records left by Keith Harrison to play on Mute

Records have been added to the collection!

One of the records left by Keith Harrison, can you spot the addition?

Bring in some of your own records!

» View full post to see all images

Keith Harrison's superb installation Mute in Fragile? focuses on the viewer/ visitors interacting with the work. From seeing yourself reflected in gold tiled surface of the work to walking around the huge installation in the gallery to spinning a vinyl on the deck.

The "aim" of this installation is to make the slip in the speakers break down and discover what happens to the sounds: a voyage of discovery as much for the artist and the museum as the exhibition is for the visitor!

Records are played on one or both of the decks in the gallery which are attached to the main body of the installation, the music then sounds through a wall of dried slip (dried liquid clay) filled speakers, which crack and crumble as the music reverberates through them. Keith supplied several vinyl's for people to play on the decks of Mute. All records feature brass and horns and are ready to be used on shelving at the back of the gallery.

However he was also keen to encourage people to bring in their own records to be played in the galleries, and over the last few weeks we've noticed that the number of records seem to be growing!

Originally starting at 14, the number of vinyl's has grown to 18 (one was being played as the image was taken!). People seem to be leaving records in the space for others to enjoy!

If you want to experience this incredible installation why don't you bring in a record to play on Mute and contribute to this installation?

It may be some way off but a date to put in your diary is Keith Harrison's "In Conversation" on July 19th:

Also Spillers is hosting a late night event tomorrow (the 28th June!):

A Window into the Industry Collections - May 2015

Posted by Mark Etheridge on 27 May 2015

Preserved within the collections is a Cardiff horse drawn tram. The tram was built by the Falcon Works, Loughborough in the 1880s and run by Cardiff Tramways Co. When the Cardiff Tramways Company was taken over by the City in 1902 the routes were electrified and the horse-tram was sold to the Cardiff Ladies Temperance Guild and used in the Docks as a snack-bar selling non-alcoholic beverages. About 1930 ownership passed to Mrs Elizabeth Leach of Tremorfa who ran it as 'Walters' Tavern' and in due course this ladies daughter, Mrs Walters, took it over. In 1955 her brother Mr Ekstrom, took it over and ran it for a further ten years until it closed in 1966. It was removed in Summer 1968.

This slide, recently accessioned into the collection, shows the tram in use as a refreshment stall at Roath Dock, Cardiff.

The tram is currently on loan to the National Tramway Museum in Crich were it is on display.

These photographs show the tram awaiting restoration in 1979, and then after restoration work was carried out by Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales.

The final photograph shows a similar tram on Newport Road, Cardiff c.1890. It ran on the The Royal Oak - Newport Road - Pier head service.


A recent donation was this wooden board with a paper roster/list attached. The roster lists information about locomotives, winding engines, and saw mills at Dinorwic Slate Quarries. Unfortunately it is in poor condition and will need some conservation work carried out on it. The board had three headings, ‘locomotives’, ‘winding engines’ and ‘saw mills’.
Under the heading ‘locomotives’ the following information is recorded: old name of locomotive; present name of locomotive; location of locomotive; works number; date; remarks e.g. firebox renewed; firebox and tubes material. The roster records information about 20 locomotives.
Under the heading ‘winding engines’ the following information is recorded: place; started working; drive; circ & length of winding rope; circ &  length of standing rope; remarks. The roster records information about 11 winding engines.
Under the heading ‘saw mills’ the following information is recorded: place; started working; drive; no of dressing machines; no of tables; kind; diar of line shaft; revs line shaft. The roster records information about 10 saw mills.


Last year we were donated this painting by John Uzzell Edwards. It was on display at the National Waterfront Museum for a while and has just come off display to be accessioned and stored at the National Collections Centre in Nantgarw. The painting is acrylic and mixed media on canvas. It was painted on 2011 and is titled ‘Swansea Quilt’. The painting was inspired by a quilt made in Swansea by a woman who worked in the milliners department of a Swansea shop (she used fabric off-cuts from the shop).

This print shows the quilt which inspired John Uzzell Edwards.


This month we also acquired another painting. Probably gouache on board/paper it shows Merthyr Vale Colliery from Aberfan, and is dated 1902. It is signed by an artist called David John Evans. We haven’t yet been able to find anything out about him, so if anyone has any information on this artist we would love to hear from you.

The sinking of Merthyr Vale No. 1 Colliery began in 1869, and coal was first produced in 1875. Merthyr Vale Colliery No 2 was sunk some years later. In 1902 the colliery employed 3,064 men and produced 830,000 tons of coal. Reaching its peak in 1913 , when it was the largest colliery in the South Wales coalfield, manpower and output reduced over the years until the colliery eventually closed by British Coal in August  1989.

This photograph shows Merthyr Vale Colliery in 1960 showing tips on the hillside. It was the spoil from Merthyr Vale Colliery that slipped down the mountainside onto the community of Aberfan on the 21st October 1966. Engulfing Pantglass Junior School and a number of houses 144 people were killed, 116 of whom were children.

‘J. Eurof Martin Collection’

Mark Etheridge
Curator: Industry & Transport
Follow us on Twitter - @IndustryACNMW

Wallace Goes West…

Posted by Julian Carter on 26 May 2015

Wallace's Golden Birdwing butterfly Ornithoptera croesus

A study skin of the black chinned whistler collected by Alfred Russel Wallace.

Alfred Russel Wallace from the frontpiece of his autobiography 'My Life'.

On his death over 100 years ago, Alfred Russel Wallace was widely praised as the 'last of the great Victorians'. But who was he?

Wallace was many things - an intrepid explorer, a brilliant naturalist, a social activist - overall a remarkable man. In his time he collected over 125 000 animal specimens, published more than 800 articles and wrote 22 books.

He is most famously associated with co-discovering the process of evolution by natural selection alongside Charles Darwin. Yet we have all heard of Darwin, whilst Wallace had become more of a forgotten figure.

In 2013 AC-NMW produced an exhibition commemorating the life and work of this great man. This exhibition has now journeyed westwards to the Oriel y Parc Gallery in St Davids, and can be explored by visitors until the 25th November.

Up on the roof with the bees!

Posted by Annette Townsend on 26 May 2015

One of the beehives on the roof at National Museum Cardiff

Examining one of the trays inside the beehive

Me in my bee suit!

Last week I got the chance to go up on the roof of National Museum Cardiff to see the two Natural Sciences beehives. Since the bees arrived last year, Ben Evans and his team of trained staff from across the Cathays Park site have been responsible for the weekly maintenance of the hives. On this occasion Ben was able to sign me in as a visitor and we collected the box of beekeeping equipment and made our way up and out onto the roof. Next we put on our beekeeping gear; a half suit with an integral hat and face net and some thick gauntlet gloves. Ben lit up the smoker and waved it near the entrance of the hives to calm the bees. He then took the top off the hive and carefully pulled out the individual layers so that we could have a clear look inside. Each layer was covered in hundreds of bees and underneath we could see the beautiful hexagonal formations where the bees store their food and larvae. We also checked through each layer to locate the queen. She is marked with a green spot on her back so she can be clearly identified. The two hives are very different, in one the bees are quite subdued so Ben is feeding them with a sugary syrup to help them along.  In the other hive the bees seem very active and are starting to produce honey. I actually got to taste the honey and it was gorgeous! Ben plans to produce a beekeepers diary, so keep an eye out for further updates about the bees on our blog pages and our Twitter Feeds (@NatHistConseve or @CardiffCurator). Let’s hope they produce more honey so we can eventually sell it in the museum shop!    

Volunteering at St Fagans during the First World War

Posted by Elen Phillips on 26 May 2015

Convalescing soldiers and VAD nurses at the St Fagans Red Cross Hospital, 1916-18.

VAD nurses and soldiers in their 'hospital blues' in the Italian Garden, St Fagans Castle, 1916-18.

With Volunteers’ Week fast approaching, many museums and galleries are busy planning events and activities to promote and celebrate the contribution of their volunteers. Here at St Fagans, volunteers play an active role in all aspects of our work. From whitewashing to thatching, rag-rug making to gardening, their skills and dedication are visible across the site.

A hundred years ago, volunteers were leaving their mark on St Fagans under very different circumstances. During the First World War, in 1916 the British Red Cross opened a 70 bed auxiliary hospital in the grounds of St Fagans Castle, staffed by Voluntary Aid Detachment nurses (known as VADs) from the local area.

The VAD scheme was formed in 1909 by the British Red Cross and the Order of St John, with the intention of providing additional nursing services in the event of war. Detachments (or units) were organised at county level, with each volunteer member receiving training in first aid and basic nursing skills. The first detachment to be established in Wales was formed at St Fagans Castle, of all places, in November 1909. The following year, two hundred VAD members from the county of Glamorgan took over the grounds for a training day. A reporter from the Cardiff Times witnessed the action:

An interesting demonstration was given in a field, showing how the wounded can be carried to the rear for treatment at hospital bases. Dr Sparrow explaining how first aid can be given without special provision of splints, bandages etc. A feature of the demonstration was a spring cart, lent by James Howells and Co Cardiff, which in less than seven minutes can be improvised for twenty-four wounded soldiers under cover. [Cardiff Times 24 September 1910]

Many of the nurses who volunteered at the St Fagans Red Cross Hospital during the war joined the VAD scheme at this early stage. One of whom was Mary Ann Dodd – known as Polly. She worked as a housemaid for the Windsor-Clive family in the Castle, but also did turns of duty at the hospital, as she recalled some 40 years later:

I used to cook and clean and one day a week I did the washing. Those soldiers’ socks were in a state, many had no heels in them at all. The soldiers only laughed and teased us, and when they got better, they tried to help us.

In July, we’ll be exploring some of these personal stories on-site through music and performance. The much-anticipated culmination of the Make an Aria project (in partnership with Music Theatre Wales and the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama) will give operatic life to the men and women who lived, worked and convalesced at the Castle during the war. The Make an Aria project is a first for the Museum - we don't often experiment with musical interpretation. Book your tickets now! And of course, don't forget about the First World War online catalogue. We’ve created a ‘volunteering’ tag to pull together all the collections relating to voluntary action during the First World War, both here at St Fagans and in communities across Wales.

Murder and Mystery at the Museum

Posted by Anna Holmes on 26 May 2015

A body has been found, but how did he die?

Mysterious powder was found at the scene, but what was it?

What does the evidence tell us?

So where had the victim been and who did he meet?

» View full post to see all images

The first ever Murder Mystery evening at National Museum Cardiff took place on 19th May 2015 and was linked to the ‘Museums at Night’ festival, which ran from 13-16th May and will run again 30th-31st October. The evening was organised by staff from the Department of Natural Sciences and was attended by over 90 adults.

Visitors were invited to attend a grand gala evening to witness the unveiling of the largest and most beautiful diamond in the world, being shown in Wales for the first time. However, the evening began with a missing diamond, a dead body and six potential suspects. The Museum was now in lock down for three hours with the killer trapped inside! After the Crime Scene Investigators had collected evidence from the murder scene and suspects, scientific tests were set-up throughout the Natural History galleries and visitors were requested to help with testing the evidence. They also had the opportunity to interrogate the six suspects and to try and determine ‘Whodunnit?’ before the killer struck again! Fortunately the event ended in the successful capture of the murderer and the diamond returned, with all visitors fortunately  unharmed.

This was a fantastic opportunity for visitors to explore the atmospheric galleries and main hall and see our galleries in a completely different atmosphere. We have received requests to run this event and other mysteries in the future, so check out the museum's What's on pages to see future events.

Through the Keyhole in Kennixton

Posted by Bryony Spurway on 22 May 2015

Bryony talking about tea in the 18th century in Kennixton Farmhouse, St Fagans. Originally from Gower.

This follows on from Marsli Owen's blog.

When we decided to do an event called ‘Through the Keyhole’ I thought about the different things I could show people in the historic houses of St Fagans.  I wanted something that linked the past and present, so I chose tea drinking and based myself in the parlour of Kennixton farmhouse.

At Kennixton, the parlour is decorated in the style of the 1750s – you might recognise it as Captain Blamey’s house in the recent Poldark tv serial.  I decided to do the event in costume to help bring the house to life, and laid the table for tea as they would have done in the 18th century.   

Tea has a very exciting history, inspiring fashion, fortune, revolution, and crime.  It was brought to this country in 1657 by Catherine of Braganza, the Portuguese wife of Charles II.  A bit like the Kate-effect of today it swiftly caught on as a fashionable drink.

Like a lot of popular things, tea was taxed very highly by the government.  Some unscrupulous dealers would try and make tea go further by adulterating it with hawthorn leaves or even dried sheep poo!  To combat the high tax on tea, many people in Wales would have bought their tea from smugglers.  It’s possible the residents of Kennixton got their tea the same way.  It was originally built on the Gower coast so smuggled tea would have been easily available. 

It wasn’t just the Welsh who objected to paying the high tax on tea; the Americans didn’t see why they should pay it either.  They showed their feelings by throwing British tea into Boston harbour - the Boston Tea Party – which kick-started the American War of Independence in 1775.

I loved doing this event and it generated some really interesting conversations with visitors. Just doing some day-to-day activities in the house made it feel much more like a home. But I have to confess I was relieved to get out of the dress at the end of the day - the large skirts and tight sleeves were so restricting.  I finished the day wearing my comfy jeans and enjoying a mug of tea curled up on the sofa!

There will be one last blog next week to follow on by Heulwen, who will be talking about the Prefab.

@DyddiadurKate - A oes heddwch? Eisteddfodau a'r Rhyfel Byd Cyntaf

Posted by Fflur Gwynn on 22 May 2015

Wythnos nesaf bydd Caerffili a’r cylch yn croesawu Eisteddfod yr Urdd a dros 15,000 o blant a phobl ifanc i’r dref i gystadlu mewn cystadlaethau megis canu, dawnsio a pherfformio. Uchafbwynt yr ŵyl i lawer fydd seremoni’r coroni a chadeirio.

Ar y penwythnos yma, ganrif yn ôl, bu Kate hefyd yn ymweld ag Eisteddfod, sef Eisteddfod Llanuwchllyn 1915.

Enillydd cadair Eisteddfod Llanuwchllyn y diwrnod hynny oedd neb llai, nag Hedd Wyn, un o brif ffigurau llenyddol Cymru.

Y gadair yma oedd y bedwaredd gadair iddo ennill mewn eisteddfod leol, a’i ffugenw oedd ‘Fleur-de-lis’, enw a ddefnyddiodd sawl tro wrth gystadlu. Dyma hefyd oedd yr eildro iddo ennill cadair Eisteddfod Llanuwchllyn. Yn yr eisteddfod gyntaf, yn ôl llafar gwlad, bu’n rhaid cadeirio Hedd Wyn yn ei absenoldeb, oherwydd iddo adael yr eisteddfod yng nghwmni un o ferched y fro, ac aros allan gyda hi.

Derbyniodd glod aruthrol yn y ddwy eisteddfod. Meddai’r beirniad ym 1913:

Well done Hedd Wyn, dos yn mlaen hyd nes cyrhaedd Cadair Genedlaethol.

A dyna be wnaeth – yn 1915 aeth ati i geisio am Gadair Genedlaethol Eisteddfod Bangor ond ni ddaeth i’r brig y tro yna. T.H Parry Williams a gipiodd y gadair a’r goron y flwyddyn hynny.

Er iddo golli ym Mangor, ddwy flynedd yn ddiweddarach, bu iddo ennill Cadair Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Penbedw 1917, ond yn dorcalonnus, bu farw mewn brwydr yng ngwlad Belg rhai wythnosau ynghynt. Yn ystod y ddefod, gosodwyd gorchudd du dros y Gadair.

Bu eisteddfodau yn elfen bwysig o fywydau'r Gymru yn ystod y Rhyfel. Fe roddodd gyfle i bobl ddod at ei gilydd i fwynhau ag anghofio pryderon rhyfel, pe bai hynny ond am ysbaid fechan. Mewn cyfnod o ansicrwydd, dychryn a pherygl fe fydda’r eisteddfod yn corddi ymdeimlad o ysbryd cymunedol, nid yn unig ar y ffrynt Gartref ond hefyd i filwyr hiraethus o Gymru:

The Welshmen in khaki could not let Easter go by without his feast of song, and “somewhere in England” the lads from the Principality had a Welsh Divisional Eisteddfod. Cambrian Daily Leader, 25 Ebrill 1916  

Cyd-guradu yn Sain Ffagan - ddoe a heddiw

Posted by Elen Phillips on 22 May 2015

Yma yn Sain Ffagan, mae’r prosiect ail-ddatblygu (Creu Hanes) yn mynd yn ei flaen ar garlam. Tra bo’r cadwraethwyr yn asesu cyflwr y casgliadau a’r curaduron eraill yn cydlynu gyda’r dylunwyr, un o fy nhasgau i dros y flwyddyn nesaf fydd gweithio ar gyfres o brosiectau cymunedol ar gyfer yr orielau newydd. Yn y byd amgueddfaol, mae ’na enw ar gyfer y math yma o waith – cyd-guradu, neu cyd-greu.

Wrth gwrs, dyw gweithio gyda chymunedau ddim yn beth newydd i ni fel sefydliad. Dyma oedd hanfod dull Iorwerth Peate o guradu a sylfaen datblygu casgliadau’r Amgueddfa Werin yn y lle cyntaf. Yn 1937 – bron i ddegawd cyn agor giatiau Castell Sain Ffagan i bobl Cymru – aeth Peate ati i lunio holiadur a yrwyd at unigolion a sefydliadau ym mhob plwyf yng Nghymru yn gofyn am arferion a thraddodiadau eu milltir sgwâr. Dyma ddyfyniad ohono:

… rhaid i’r Amgueddfa wrth wybodaeth a gwrthrychau o bob plwyf yng Nghymru; rhaid iddi ddibynnu hefyd i raddau helaeth iawn ar gydweithrediad y Cymry mewn fferm a bwthyn, tref a phentref.

Mae’r ymatebion a ddaeth i law bellach yn rhan o archif lawysgrifau’r Amgueddfa, ynghyd â llythyron a llyfrau ateb – dau ddull arall a ddefnyddwyd gan Peate i gasglu gwybodaeth. Yn ei gyfnod, does dim dwywaith nad oedd yn arloesi mewn tir newydd.

Heddiw, mae rhaglen gymunedol yr Amgueddfa yn barhâd o’r etifeddiaeth hon, ond rydym yn gweithio mewn ffordd dra wahanol. Yn y cyfnod cynnar, pan fyddai gwybodaeth a chasgliadau yn cyrraedd yr Amgueddfa, llais y curadur fyddai'n dehongli a chyflwyno’r deunydd hwnnw. Er mor werthfawr yw’r cynnyrch a gasglwyd, perthynas un-ochrog i raddau oedd rhwng yr Amgueddfa a’i hysbyswyr cymunedol.

Bron i wythdeg mlynedd yn ddiweddarach, mae’r pwyslais wedi newid ac fe welir hyn yn glir yn y gwaith sy’n digwydd yma fel rhan o brosiect Creu Hanes. O fewn yr orielau newydd, bydd gofodau wedi eu curadu gan gymunedau ledled Cymru – eu lleisiau a’u gwrthrychau nhw fydd hanfod yr arddangosfeydd hyn. Yn ogystal, mae fforymau cyfranogol y prosiect – pwyllgorau yw’r rhain sy’n cynrychioli cynulleidfaoedd amrywiol yr Amgueddfa – wedi chwarae rhan bwysig yn y broses o ddewis a dethol gwrthrychau a themâu yr orielau newydd o’r cychwyn cyntaf. Yn syml, ein nod yw creu hanes gyda, yn hytrach nag ar gyfer, pobl Cymru.

Gyda hyn mewn golwg, wythnos yn ôl mi roeddwn i gyda’r gymuned yn Awyrlu’r Fali yn cynnal ail gyfarfod am eu mewnbwn nhw i’r rhaglen cyd-guradu. Mae’r gymuned yn y Fali yn unigryw gan fod yno gymysgedd o dros fil o weithwyr milwrol a sifilaidd. Dyma un o gyflogwyr mwyaf Ynys Môn. Rydym wedi rhoi camerau fideo i ddetholiad o staff yr orsaf i recordio diwrnod arferol yn eu bywyd gwaith. Hyd yn hyn, mae wyth adran yn cymryd rhan, gan gynnwys y frigâd dân, peilotiaid Sgwadron 208 a’r gwasanaeth arlwyo. Mi fydd eu ffilmiau ‘pry-ar-y-wal’ yn cael eu dangos am gyfnod yn un o’r orielau newydd, ynghyd â gwrthrychau o'u dewis nhw. Bydd y cyfan wedyn yn cael ei archifo a’i roi ar gof a chadw yn yr Amgueddfa, a'r gofod arddangos yn cael ei drosglwyddo i gymuned waith wahanol.

I glywed mwy am ein prosiectau cyd-guradu, cadwch lygad ar y blog dros y flwyddyn nesaf. Gallwch hefyd gadw ar y blaen gyda'r datblygiadau drwy ddilyn fy nghyfrif  Twitter @StFagansTextile a’r hashnod #CreuHanes. Cofiwch hefyd am fy nghyd-weithwyr sy'n trydar: @CuradurFflur, @archifsfarchive, @SF_Politics, @SF_Ystafelloedd, @SF_adeiladau, @WelshFurniture@CollectionsSF a @SF_Dogfennaeth. Rhwng pawb, fe gewch chi’r diweddaraf am y prosiect ail-ddatblygu a chipolwg ar weithgarwch un adran sy’n rhan o’r gymuned waith yma yn Sain Ffagan. 

Cefnogir y gwaith gydag Awyrlu'r Fali gan Gynllun Cyfamod Cymunedol y Lluoedd Arfog.

Smashed: An Alternative Guide to Fragile

Posted by Sian Lile-Pastore on 21 May 2015

The youth forum worked extremely hard to get their first publication out in time for the Fragile? exhibition and it looks so wonderful! It contains interviews with artists, responses to the work on show and even an article about Spillers and Vinyl. We were also really lucky to have a great designer on board to work with the forum to create something so gorgeous - so thanks Chipper Designs!

You can pick up your copy of the youth forums magazine (or have a look at the pdf over on the right) at the exhibition and we would love to know what you think about it. Also we would love to know what your favourite fragile thing is, a baby? a cup? a building? let us know on twitter or instagram using #fragilefaves

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