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Introduction to Fragile? commissions

Penelope Hines, 10 February 2015

With just under two weeks left of Artes Mundi 6 momentum is building for the next west wing contemporary show at National Museum Cardiff. Fragile? is an exhilarating exhibition of contemporary ceramics that will open in April 2015.

This show includes not only pieces from the collection of Amgueddfa Cymru, loans from artists and institutions but also several exciting new commissions.

So far two teaser videos have been released looking at the work of four welsh artists who have been commissioned by The Derek Williams Trust to create unique pieces for the show.

The four artists are Adam Buick, Claire Curneen, Lowri Davies and Walter Keeler.

and

There are also three exciting ceramic based site specific installations in this exhibition. Phoebe Cummings, Keith Harrison and Clare Twomey are producing pieces that will challenge pre-conceptions about the medium and encourage direct visitor participation.

View this exhibition in our “What’s On” Guide

There are going to be lots of exciting events, workshops and talks based in and around this exhibition. More details will be coming soon!

Adam Buick prepares his Moon Jar

Adam Buick prepares his Moon Jar (Image courtesy of Culture Colony)

ladies in waiting

Bernice Parker, 23 January 2015

Our pregnant ewes came in from the field just after Christmas for extra care, shelter and food - this is important for strong lamb development. The ewes were all scanned in the New Year so that we can separate them into two groups: those expecting a single lamb in one group, twins or triplets in the other. The blue and green marks on their backs are the farmer’s code for whose got what inside them.


There are currently about 100 breeding ewes in the flock and we expect 150+ lambs. Our ewes are 2 years old the first time they lamb. The gestation period for a sheep is 5 months - the ewes come into season in September and we put our rams in the field in with the girls on 1st October. This means lambing will commence in the first week of March. We choose this schedule in order to have lambs on show in the Museum's fields for Easter.


So for the next few weeks they’ll be loafing around in the shed eating and sleeping….

Sunbathing, and generally being pampered.

Somewhere in amongst them is Poopsie, one of our bottle fed lambs from two years ago. She got the name after pooping all over my leg the first time I fed her.

Sometimes hand reared lambs will stay very tame, but Poopsie has merged back into the flock. Just occasionally though, there’s a look in the eye that makes me think ‘maybe it’s you……’

counting sheep

Bernice Parker, 15 January 2015


In between Christmas and New Year our girls came in from the fields for pregnancy scans.

The St Fagans flock


And the scores on the doors are……

scan results for St fagans ewes


We have three breeds of sheep at St Fagans and they’re all on the Rare Breeds List:

A Hill Radnor ewe

Hill Radnor

Llanwenog ram


Llanwenog

a group of mixed ewes on a frosty morning

sheep at St Fagans


and Black Welsh Mountain.


We’re expecting our babies to start arriving in March,
so keep an eye on the website for more details nearer the time.

Make an Aria

Sioned Williams, 27 October 2014

What is an aria? That was the question posed by Music Theatre Wales Director, Michael McCarthy to kick-off this very exciting collaborative project. The Make an Aria scheme is a partnership between Music Theatre Wales (MTW) and the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama (RWCMD) giving young composers an opportunity to have-a-go at opera. This time, they are using St Fagans Castle and the Museum’s collections as their inspiration. A group of composers from RWCMD teamed with creative writers will ‘make an aria’ from scratch.

So where do you start? A speed-dating session was a good way to establish the best creative match for composer and writer. When everyone was paired-up, curator Elen Phillips gave an introduction to the material for the arias – the story of St Fagans Castle during the Great War.

The Windsor-Clive family of St Fagans Castle were at the centre of events during these turbulent years; Lord Windsor as chairman of the Welsh Army Corps and Lady Windsor as President of the Red Cross Society in Glamorgan. Grief-stricken by the loss of their youngest son, Archer, who was killed in action, they opened the Castle grounds to set-up a hospital run by volunteer nurses or VADs.

The stories were brought alive by looking at objects from the Museum’s collections; a nurses’ uniform from the hospital, a delicate necklace made by one of the wounded soldiers and a field-communion set used on the battlefield. At this point we were joined by members of the Armed Forces community, the 203 Welsh Field Hospital Medics who gave us a completely new take on some of these objects and stories. It just proves that working collaboratively can bring some unexpected and rewarding results. We will continue to work with the Armed Forces in co-curating some of the exhibits in the new galleries at St Fagans but that’s another blog for another day.

We then led the composers and writers on a tour of the Castle and grounds; the old site of the WW1 hospital, the Italian garden where the soldiers recuperated and the greenhouses where the land girls may have worked. Any of these locations could be the setting to perform the arias in the summer of 2015. I think that everyone left with their heads bubbling with ideas. All we can do now is wait.

Speed-dating session with composers and writers
Speed-dating session with composers and writers
Looking at objects from Museum’s collection
Looking at objects from Museum’s collection
Necklace made at St Fagans by convalescing soldier, Walter Stinson
Necklace made at St Fagans by convalescing soldier, Walter Stinson
The Italian garden, a possible location for an aria?
The Italian garden, a possible location for an aria?
Soldiers and nurses in the Italian garden, St Fagans, during First World War
Soldiers and nurses in the Italian garden, St Fagans, during First World War

More I Spy Competition Winners

Katie Mortimer-Jones, 14 October 2014

We were joined this Saturday by two more of our I Spy…Nature drawing competition winners and their families. The winners were shown around the mollusc (shell), marine invertebrate and vertebrate collections as part of their special behind the scenes tour by museum curators Katie Mortimer-Jones and Jennifer Gallichan. The visitors were able to select draws from the mollusc collections to look in and saw a Giant Clam and a cone shell known as Glory of the Seas (Conus gloriamaris), a once sort after shell found in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, to name but a few. Next onto the fluid store, where we keep our fluid preserved specimens such as marine bristleworms, starfish, crabs, lobsters and fish specimens. Lastly the tour finished up in the Vertebrate store where we keep some of the Museum’s taxidermy and skeleton specimens. After the tour, the winners were given their prizes of natural history goodies from the Museum Shop.

Winner in the under 6 age category receiving her prize

Winner in the 10-13 age category receiving her prize

The winners and their families after the special behind the scenes tour of the Natural Science Collections

Behind the scenes in the shell (mollusc) collections