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Collectors & Collections

April 2009

St Teilo's Church - the book

Posted by Mari Gordon on 20 April 2009

No blogs for a while now - but mostly because we've been working full tilt on the book (also because I've been off for a week...).

So, it's now at the printers, and there's nothing - well, hardly anything - more we can do now. If all is well the books will be in Cardiff this Friday, and we'll all be at St Fagans launching it on Sunday. If the weather is anywhere as good as it has been this last week or so then it'll be a truly lovely afternoon.

As exciting as it is to look forward to seeing the actual book (no matter how many proofs, dummies etc you've seen - the real thing always looks different!) this bit always makes me a bit nervous too. After it arrives, and I spot the inevitable typo that got away, or something I wish we'd changed when we had the chance, or... and after the launch event, I'll be able to reflect on what a pleasure it was to work on and how lovely everybody was to work with. It's a real privilege to have been able to learn so much about the whole project - one of the very best bits of my job is being able to get involved with such a variety of different projects that might otherwise have passed me by. But with this one in particular, I think, the depth of people's knowledge and skills, and their committment, is inspiring.


Anyway, look out for it, available in all good bookshops - soon!


January 2009

St Teilo's Church - the book

Posted by Mari Gordon on 14 January 2009

We're getting really stuck in now. We've had a complete set of pages, which is our chance to move or replace any images, or perhaps move pages around. Once we've done that the layout is set in stone and we start proofreading. While we proofread the English, the designer will work on the Welsh pages - that's why it's important that nothing moves around after we've agreed on the layout!

We had some new external shots of the church done, so that we'd have a wider choice to try out for the cover. I think we're pretty close to deciding on the image. And I think the title is decided too:

Saving St Teilo's: bringing a medieval church to life.

I hope it's a strong title, and I like the fact that we get the name 'St Teilo's' right in there at the beginning!

We're also moving ahead with the launch event. It will be in the spring, March or maybe April. It should be a lovely event, it will be lighter then - and warmer!

December 2008

St Teilo's Church - the book

Posted by Mari Gordon on 29 December 2008
Church Exterior Summer
The church as it stands today, in St Fagans National History Museum.

We had a very positive meeting with the book's designer before Christmas at St Fagans. She's come up with some lovely ideas, it makes a big difference when you've seen something and you then have a set of images and visual themes you can relate to. The design manages to convey a sense of the crafts, skills and techniques behind the whole project, which is something I really want the book to convey.

We're still looking for exactly the right image for the cover though. We decided, although it might seem a bit unimaginative, to use a picture of the exterior of the Church. For all the amazing images we've got of the interiors, especially of course the wall paintings, I really believe that the audience for this book will be looking for a book with a picture of the church on it - sounds obvious I suppose! The book covers many things including art, archaeology and architecture, but in the end it's primarily about the story of St Teilo's Church. So that's the message the cover will convey. Plus, the building itself is now so recognisable, its shape is almost iconic.

I think one of the features that draw people to the Church is the contrast between the simple, white, almost humble-looking exterior and the riot of colour and images inside.

As soon as I've got images of the sample spreads I'll publish them here - it would be very interesting to know what people think of them!

St Teilo's Church - the book

Posted by Mari Gordon on 8 December 2008

I'm working on a book about the fantastic St Teilo's Church at St Fagans. Been really looking forward to this one, it's a lovely story and there's a wealth of fab images - unlike usually, when I have to scrabble around for some decent stuff. I thought we'd be much further on than we are mind, I really expected to be up to my ears in proofs by now. I sort of know why we're further behind than I'd planned, just can't quite explain. Or I could, but it still probably wouldn't make much sense. Plus, designers work in different ways, and this one likes to take a lot of time 'up front' working on the design concept, then when that's agreed we crack on with the proofreading fairly quickly. I suppose I'm more comfortable with spending the bulk of the time at the proofreading stage, especially with a fairly text-heavy book like this one. Still, we always manage to end up with a book on time. I should be designing the marketing plan by now, but I'm still getting the images together and finishing the copy - things like indexes, the glossary, that kind of thing. And I haven't written any of the image captions yet, which I decided would be quite long, narrative style, so that we don't have to cram absolutely everything into the main copy.

Having to work within a financial year is odd too - not at all the way publishing works. I could get really quite anxious about this if I let myself. I just have to concentrate on how good the book's going to look, and having a high-profile launch, with a popular speaker, where everybody buys a copy of the book, which will get great reviews...

In our favour is the fact that the Church is already incredibly popular and has had a lot of good press. The whole re-erection project at St Fagans has built up a swell of good will, and the Church has its own loyal following - a sort of fan-base! All that's keeping me going at the moment, but I know things are going to get pretty intense over the next couple of months.

June 2008

At last

Posted by Gareth Bonello on 9 June 2008

At last, I'm able to concentrate for half an hour or so on writing this blog, something that I haven't been able to do for just over six months. The main reason that I have some time now, is that I have stopped working two days a week in our new gallery, Oriel 1, so I can play catch-up with curatorial work such as transcribing oral history recordings and working with partners towards future exhibitions.

The exhibitions we've been working towards include ones on archery, a medical display, the Urdd, Pop, and the Italians in Wales.

I have also been involved in co-ordinating the St Fagans activities and events that are planned for 2009, when the theme will be 'Music', and towards the exhibiting the next Community Dresser, when Cwm Carn Boxing Club will show people what they've got.

Since the last blog, I have attended several conferences in Stockholm, London, Birmingham, Bolton and Llandrindod, have learnt a lot and shared experiences about contemporary collecting issues. The final draft of the museum's Contemporary Collecting Plan has been submitted to my fellow curators, and will be discussed at a meeting at the end of this month.

I still haven't accessioned any objects yet though, which is slightly frustrating. In part, we are still awaiting the outcome of the above meeting, but I am now confident that I have a clear-ish picture in my mind of what to collect. I suppose that I'll just have to be patient - after all, contemporary material will still be around in a few months time...or will it?

I will try to write this on a more regular basis, but you will know, that if I don't, I'm so busy collecting, that I don't have time to write. See Ya.

October 2007

All the leaves are brown...

Posted by Gareth Bonello on 17 October 2007
2007 will be known for the upside down year, when we had a torrential summer and a golden autumn. I pity the poor fungal foragers who are searching in vain for that elusive mushroom.

I had an interesting comment last time from pbhj, on the 'intriguing' BSL exhibition I mentioned. He asks 'Apart from being minority languages what are the comparison points (between BSL and Welsh)?' Well pbhj, the idea of the exhibition came from the BSL community, and they drew comparisons bewteen the way Welsh has been treated and the way BSL has been treated. For example, Welsh schoolchildren in the 19th century had to wear a Welsh Not and were punished for speaking Welsh. Similarly, BSL speakers were told to sit on their hands so that they couldn't sign. Another comparison was that there is only one BSL school in Wales, so BSL pupils elsewhere have their education through their second language, similar to many Welsh pupils until comparatively recently.

On a lighter note, they wished to draw comparisons between deaf comedians telling jokes about hearing people to Welsh comedians telling jokes about English people, or jokes that only work bilingually. Other aspects came up, and not all to do with the similarities between Welsh and BSL, but that gives a flavour of it.

I don't understand the second part of your comment - are you accusing someone? Firstly, I don't think you can 'over-promote' something, and secondly, Welsh translation is aimed primarily at providing non-Welsh speakers with an understanding of the language. Why is this damaging? And why is it to the detriment of other services? Yes there are BSL/Welsh translators - not many, but they do exist.

Sabrina Rochemont also commented, and asked 'Are there particular areas of interest that you would like our feedback on?' Well, I would like to hear people's opinions on what is 'Contemporary Collecting'. What objects should we target for future preservation, and why. In this world of mass produced things, should we be collecting televisions, computers, mobile phones? If every museum decided to do this, we'd explode at the seams! Another aspect is the community one - asking communities to curate what's important to them, and recording their experiences etc.

Right, to finish, a quick run-through of what I've been up to in the last month - we've had the preliminary meetings to discuss strategies for the 2009 Pop Exhibition; I attended a meeting in Welshpool where we discussed forming a Contemporary Collecting policy for all museums throughout Wales so that we work together; I attended a second Digital Story workshop which we intend to base our community workshops on; I collected the objects from Johnstown for the second community dresser (information about the first is in 'Rhagor' on this website); I visited a couple of museums in Swansea; and I started my MA Museum Studies course.

Whew! By the time I write next month, I will have been to Sweden for their SAMDOK conference, which is the leading contemporary collecting conference in the world. See ya then.

September 2007

Somebody reading...

Posted by Gareth Bonello on 20 September 2007
Wow! Somebody has been reading my blogs. Not sure if that makes me feel good or not, but it's a start. As the comments were in Welsh, I'll answer their queries in the Welsh version.

Since the last instalment, we've been struggling with a few technical glitches in Oriel 1 which are constantly random. The timed system doesn't come on at the allocated time, some pictures have disappeared off one of the touch screens, some of the listening posts are tempremental. There must be a technical term for 'Gremlins', but I prefer to imagine little green creatures eating the wires.

I'm involved in setting up two exhibitions for 2009/2010 at the moment. One is an exhibition of Italians living in Wales, and the other is on British Sign Language, which will draw comparisons between BSL and Welsh - a radical, new approach to the way BSL has been viewed in the past.

We also held a very successful Hindu festival, and will be celebrating the re-opening of the temple in Grangetown, Cardiff this Saturday the 22nd. Come along to sample the sights, sounds, food and fun!

Other than that, I've been meeting with a community from Johnstown to collect the objects that they've curated for our Community Dresser. If all goes well, they will be on display well before Christmas.

Last, but not least, an exhibition by Mary Lloyd Jones, the internatinally renowned artist, called First Language, is being set up at the moment. It will open officially on October 4th.

Please feel free to comment - at the moment I feel that my blogs are very technical and rather lifeless. If people comment, maybe I could relax a bit and adopt a more conversational tone. See you soon!

August 2007

Once more unto the breach...

Posted by Gareth Bonello on 21 August 2007
By now I've started to do a bit of fieldwork. I started by recording Sirajul Islam, Bengali by birth, but now studying for a degree through the medium of Welsh. He has a fascinating story, and this will be in our archive for future generations to peruse and study.

Another project that I've started is trying to beef up the Youth corner of Oriel 1. The screen which is currently showing stills of Maes B events from the past will soon have a lively video of the events from 2007. The Meic Stevens guitar case will hopefully be clearly signed and will contain records and pictures to complement the story.

With the imminent launch of the Virtual Museum, there are a few projects to prepare for that, namely the Community Dresser objects, and interviews held with young people during Eisteddfod week.

I'm also involved in an exciting new project to build a turf round house at the Celtic Village, a radical new design that will turn archaeological theory on its head!

Other than that, I'm visiting Newport Museum this week to discuss their Pop exhibition plans, and have been on Welsh television and radio to promote Oriel 1 and the work that I'm doing. Things are beginning to move quite swiftly!

Oriel 1

Posted by Anna Gruffudd on 2 August 2007

Iawn te! Bywyd yn Oriel 1!

Dyma fi yn fy swydd newydd fel dehonglydd Oriel 1, oriel newydd Sain Ffagan yn sgwennu blog am y tro cynta! Fe fydd, fel yr Oriel yn un arbrofol felly! (Ac fel Owain...nes i sgwennu hwn unwaith a cholli'r cwbl...ti'n meddwl sa'n well i ni gael gwersi?!!) Yn anffodus, ar hyn o bryd rwy'n eistedd wrth ddesg yn syllu ar olygfa ddigon llwyd drwy'r ffenest.

Mae ambell sied wedi eu ffensio ag arwydd 'keep out' a 'Site Canteen' i'w gweld ac adeilad mawr siedaidd yn gefndir. O wel, er mwyn cyfleu ychydig o naws y lle bydd rhaid i fi ddychmygu felly fy mod i'n eistedd yng nghanol yr Oriel. O fy mlaen i, mae superted a'i gefn tuag ata i a'i ben e'n pwyso ar hen arwydd y pentref a fu unwaith, 'CAPEL CELYN'.

Uwch ei ben, mae Sgrabble yn Gymraeg a rhes o oleuade bach gwyn yn goleuo'r casyn gwydr y mae'n eistedd ynddo.

Yn nes ata i mae dros gant o recordie saith modfedd o'r 60au a'r 70au yn garped lliwgar lliwgar ar y wal, ac yn treiddio drwy'r awyr mae cerddoriaeth hudolus hamddenol.

Ar y wal y tu ol i mi mae lluniau gan blant yn dawnsio ar y wal ar ffilm. O gyfeiriad arall mae swn gwahanol, clychau a baban yn crio, ac yn y pellder swn torf yn dathlu ym mharc yr arfau. Wrth droi o gwmpas rwy'n gweld drychau mawr ar y wal ac yn hongian o'u hamgylch mae dillad sy'n eich gwahodd i'w teimlo a'u gwisgo.

Ddoe, roedd criw o blant yn dawnsio o amgylch y 'juke box' ac ymwelwyr yn rhyfeddu ar wydr lliw a wnaed gan SMYLe, grwp o fwslemiaid ifanc o Abertawe. Roedd plant bach yn gwneud llwyau caru papur gydag un o'r artisiaid fydd yn gweithio yn yr Oriel bob dydd ym mis Awst gyda'r Cert Celf. Roedd merched yn eu harddegau yn gigls i gyd yn cael tro'n cario'r ddol mewn siol yn y dull Cymreig a thatcu yn rhyfeddu ar ei wyrion bach yn gwrando'n astud ar glustffonau arbennig ar straeon ac atgofion o gasgliadau'r archif. Mae cymaint wedi digwydd yn yr Oriel, dawnsio o dros y byd, artistiaid yn perfformio a darlithiau a sgyrsiau o bob math.

Ond well i fi fynd nawr i wneud ychydig o waith paratoi ar gyfer y gweithdau a'r gweithgareddau fydd yn yr Oriel. Mwy o hanesion am gymeriadau a bywyd Oriel 1 i ddod!

July 2007

A month is a long time...

Posted by Owain Rhys on 11 July 2007
Now this entry is going to be concise. I had just finished an extended version of the last month, in English and Welsh, pressed publish, and everything disappeared. So, I'm sulking. In brief, this is how last month went:

June 18 - Meeting with National Library of Wales. Discussed collecting websites, TV programmes and records, amongst other things (ephemera, how to record Youtube etc) Very interesting, and a big thanks to all at the Library for the welcome.

June 19 and 20 - Digital Storytelling workshop with the BBC. A technique which is very useful to record contemporary life. Visit website at

June 21 - Digital Storytelling Conference missed due to illness

June 23 - Family wedding

June 24 to July 1 - Holiday in Caernarfon

July 6 and 7 - Oral History conference in London. Again, a technique which is very useful to record contemporary life.

July 12 (tomorrow) - Meeting with Johnstown History Group to discuss curating for the Community Dresser.

If anybody is interested in learning more about these things, then please contact me. In the original Blog, I managed to mention, Glyn Wise off Big Brother, setting up a virtual museum in Second Life, a Welsh name for Facebook and numerous other fascinating things. But there we go, such is the ficklelessness of the ether.

  • National Museum Cardiff

    National Museum Cardiff

    Discover art, natural history and geology. With a busy programme of exhibitions and events, we have something to amaze everyone, whatever your interest – and admission is free!

  • St Fagans National History Museum

    St Fagans

    St Fagans is one of Europe's foremost open-air museums and Wales's most popular heritage attraction.

  • Big Pit National Coal Museum

    Big Pit

    Big Pit is a real coal mine and one of Britain's leading mining museums. With facilities to educate and entertain all ages, Big Pit is an exciting and informative day out.

  • National Wool Museum

    National Wool Museum

    Located in the historic former Cambrian Mills, the Museum is a special place with a spellbinding story to tell.

  • National Roman Legion Museum

    National Roman Legion Museum

    In AD 75, the Romans built a fortress at Caerleon that would guard the region for over 200 years. Today at the National Roman Legion Museum you can learn what made the Romans a formidable force and how life wouldn't be the same without them.

  • National Slate Museum

    National Slate Museum

    The National Slate Museum offers a day full of enjoyment and education in a dramatically beautiful landscape on the shores of Llyn Padarn.

  • National Waterfront Museum

    National Waterfront Museum

    The National Waterfront Museum at Swansea tells the story of industry and innovation in Wales, now and over the last 300 years.

  • Rhagor: Explore our collections

    Rhagor (Welsh for ‘more’) offers unprecedented access to the amazing stories that lie behind our collections.