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February 2010

1950s designs

Posted by Sian Lile-Pastore on 25 February 2010

The half term workshops looked at pattern and design from the 1950s (which tied in with the current Italians in Wales exhibition). We looked at numerous examples of design from Italy (such as Bruno Munari) and other famous designers such as Lucienne Day as well as clothing and fabrics from our collection.

Taking these patterns as inspriation everyone created fantastic artwork using collage and print (potato prints, monoprints and stencils) and some of the pictures that were made are shown below.

Detail from a 1950s dress from our handling collection which was used as inspiration for the workshops

Monoprint based on the flowered pattern

Drawing developed from flowered pattern and the monoprint

Images from nature were often used in 1950s designs, so we made a leaf potato print which looks fantastic in this picure!

This picture is beautiful. I love the use of collage, stencil and monoprinting here and the colours are great too.

We also looked at the artists Rex Ray who is a contemporary artist influenced by 1950s design. This fantastic collage was based on one of Ray's paingtings.

More pictures to come!

Slowly but surely, shoots are coming...

Posted by Danielle Cowell on 20 February 2010
20/02/10 All my crocus are very short. They popped up very quickly and opened on a sunny afternoon. Since, we have had more cold weather and snow and they have had to close again.
10/02/10 When the sun is out the petals fully open out - this is the view from above.
20/02/10 First Crocus. See how transparent the stem is.
Crocus - 13/02/10
» View full post to see all images

In early December we looked forward to an early spring but then the cold weather slowed everything down. Now, with temperatures slowly rising, school scientists are reporting new signs of spring across Wales! My shoots have also started to come through!

In Pentrepoeth Junior School, Swansea. Pupils were very excited to find crocus, daffodil and mystery bulbs peeping through the soil. They were surprised how some of their shoots varied in size and love recording the temperature and rainfall.

On the really Welsh farm, in Bridgend. Farmers have finally started picking daffodils and sending them out across South Wales. They report: 'Still not huge volumes really, we are extremely disappointed at how slow the daffodils are growing this year. We are about 5 weeks behind for the earliest varieties and are keeping our fingers crossed that we will have plenty of daffodils for St.Davids Day'.

Professor Plant's bulb blog:

20/02/10 My crocus opened today! First the flower bud appeared, then when the sun came out at lunch time - the flower popped open. The colours were amazing, bright purple petals and bright orange anthers & stigma.  It's so nice to finally have some colour in the garden. Later in the afternoon, when the sunshine disappeared the flower closed again. I'll upload my pictures tomorrow. Does your crocus do this? Why not try out some of my investigation ideas. See link below.

15/02/10 Both my daffodil and crocus shoots have started to come through. They are no taller than 2cms which is quiet small for this time of year. In 2008, when the winter was mild my crocus flowers had already opened and the daffodils were 11cms tall!

Which shoot is which? The daffodil shoots have smooth curved, light green tips. They are much broader than the crocus tips. The crocus shoots have narrow pointed shoots that normally appear in clusters of five. They have dark green edges - making them look slightly stripey.

Crocus - 13/02/10
Daffodil 10/02/10
Daffodil 10/02/10
25/01/10 Pentrepoeth Junior School, Morriston, Swansea.
Crocus - 10/02/10

Creative art workshop

Posted by Sian Lile-Pastore on 19 February 2010

We've been making amazing prints and collages throughout the week. I'll put up all the rest of the work next monday and tuesday! Thank you to everyone who came to the workshops and I hope you enjoyed them!

Precious Things

Posted by Sara Huws on 19 February 2010
I received the call on Monday. "It's in the post. Should be with you in three-to-five working days". The words put me in a geeky flutter: finally, the Thurible was on its way here!

Now, for those of you wondering, a thurible is basically a very nice incense burner indeed. It comes attached to a chain, meaning the incense can be swung at arm's length.

Still used in many churches, temples and shrines across the world, incense can play a very important role in a worshipper's experience of a sacred place. Smell, we are often reminded, is a short-circuit to our memories. The mixture of Frankinsence, Myrrh, and citrus oils usually favoured by the Catholic Church - though perhaps not as evocative as mothballs or freshly-baked bread - is a heavy mix which can transport you to some quite fantastical places. Some of these smells have been used in ceremonies and perfumes since the age of the ancient Egyptians and beyond. It is no surprise, then, that one's imagination can wander quite far off its leash when this stuff is burning.

Now, before i get too Herbal Essences, I should probably 'fess up - i'm an incense fiend. Not just any incense either. I'll snobbishly breeze past the day-glo, wood based tendrils and cones, and go straight for the resin. Usually made from sap collected from trees, each kind has its own history and associations. Frankinsence comes in rounded, amber-coloured blobs. Myrrh looks a bit more like the discarded pupae of a creepy-crawly. Damar looks like pear drops, and smells like a delicate, citrussy nectar...

Anyway, back to the thurible. Ours is replica, to be used in St Teilo's Church. Past experiments (using a thurible kindly loaned from St David's College) have yielded mixed results. Some enjoyed the experience, saying it gave an air of religious calm to the building. Others took two huffs and turned on their heels, coughing. Some just felt uncomfortable, perhaps due to their own religious instruction or beliefs about worship. We propose to use the thurible during re-enactments at first (more on those later...), along with period music and liturgy, to see whether we can really re-create the atmosphere of a Mass in 1500.

Only problem is that the Curator who commissioned the replica is on holiday. The parcel sits tantalisingly intact in the strong room. I'm trying my best not to take a peek - though, it would take considerable effort, seeing as I don't have the keys. We will have to wait, then, until Monday, when we'll have a very different unboxing video to show you!

Resources for Courses - New Tudor Pack

Posted by Sara Huws on 11 February 2010
Just another short-ish post to highlight the arrival of our new, updated Tudor packs.

Tudor Pack in English (.pdf file)

Detail of St Teilo's Story
A colourful detail from the reconstructed Tudor church at St Fagans National History Museum

These resources were designed with teachers and school groups in mind, but contain some lovely illustrations and ideas suitable for families as well.

We've put them together for use during, and after, visits to the site's Tudor buildings.

Through the Learning Department's training days for primary teachers, we've been able to get a fair bit of feedback regarding the contents - but we're always happy to hear more. What kinds of resources for learners, of all shapes and sizes, would you like to see at St Fagans: National History Museum?

I was up at St Teilo's Church this morning with Darren the photographer, taking pictures of our Tudor handling objects for use in a post-visit picture book for children. I'm excited to see what the designers will make of the photos, and how the finished product will turn out. I'll keep you posted!

For those of you wondering what other opportunities we currently offer primary schools and teachers, here's a handy guide: Opportunities for Schools (.pdf file)

Publishers are happy to have a bite

Posted by Mari Gordon on 10 February 2010

Macmillan have now ended their stand-off with Amazon, and come to an agreement over the terms of sale of their ebooks. When Macmillan initially demanded new terms, all their books became unavailable on Amazon.

Now, even Rupert Murdoch says that Amazon's terms "devalues books", and he looks like renegotiating HarperCollins terms.

The problem is Amazon's selling model, in which they act as a straightforward reseller. They can sell the ebooks at any price they choose, even lossleading on some if they want to. Apple, on the other hand, have taken a completely different model with US publishers, who are welcoming it with open arms. Apple will be buying ebooks from publishers at a price set by the publishers, with Apple effectively taking a commission.

There's still no indication that Apple has started negotiating with UK publishers, so when the first iPads ship to the UK at the end of March ebooks might not be available through iBooks. If not, however, it won't be trhough lack of enthusiasm on the part of publishers. This is one American trend I don't think we'll mind following.

Sant, Santes, Seintiau

Posted by Sara Huws on 9 February 2010

Happy St Teilo's Day!

For those of you wondering which particular kind of festivity to bestow on to this day, know this: St Teilo is the patron saint of apples and horses. Adjust your schedules accordingly.

See his life story depicted in an intricate, technicolour carving at the St Teilo minisite.

Emyr Hughes with this sculpture of St Teilos
Master Carver Emyr Hughes with his oak carving of St Teilo

Italian Memories in Wales

Posted by Sian Lile-Pastore on 8 February 2010

Italian Memories in Wales, Our new exhibition in Oriel 1, St Fagans:National History Museum opened on Saturday January 30 and will run until May. It's a lovely exhibition so please come and visit!

As part of the exhibition we have been collecting feedback about people's thoughts on the exhibtion as well as their stories of leaving a country. Here are some that we have had so far:

Tina and Angela Minoli wrote:

'My father Giuseppo Minoli came to the Welsh valleys from Brugnoli in the Bardi region of Emilia-Romagna when he was 5 years old in 1914.'

Paulo Nuzzo wrote:

'My father left Italy in 1956 to work in the steel works of S.Wales - lovely to see what he had to go through to stay in S.Wales.'

Paulo also commented on the exhibition, saying it was: 'Very interesting and moving.'

Roberto Pastore wrote:

'My mother and father left Italy in the early 70s after getting married. They came to the UK and had my brother and me, and found work as a boutique owner and hairdresser, respectively.'

He also commented on the exhibition: 'Some beautiful images and such distinctive expressions + faces of Italy.'

Angelina Cooper wrote:

'My Grandmother and mother left Bardi 59 years ago - we visited Bardi for the first time in Sept 09. Fantastic!!'

If you would like to comment on the exhibtion please do so below or fill in one of the postcards in Oriel 1.

The colour of things to come...

Posted by Sara Huws on 8 February 2010

It was really refreshing to see so many people out in the sun at St Fagans on Friday. The place really felt revived and busy - it's so easy to forget, over the winter, quite how many visitors we see once Spring kicks in.

Even though there's been plenty of coming and going over the last few months, it has been work done behind the scenes: securing thatch, digging trenches, conserving and installing objects. The site seems to have been reclaimed, by now, by the general public. A trip down to Cosmeston lakes over the weekend confirmed that half of the south east had finally emerged from hibernation, as there were more people about than mallards.

In St Teilo's church, artist Fleur Kelly has been back again to work on some painted panels in the chancel. Since this part of the church was - and still is in some cases - considered as the most sacred, the decoration relfects the taste and preoccupations of sixteenth century Clergy, rather than Laity. The wall-paintings depict the Archbishop Thomas Beckett, and the chaste, pious St George (for those of you wondering why St George appears in a Welsh church, there'll be a post on that soon!). We have chosen musical angels, playing instruments sourced from 1500-30, and linenfold motifs for the wooden panels on the parclose screens.

I took the Learning Department's new camera up to the building in the hope of getting some footage of Fleur at work, to share with you on the blog. Scorsese I am not, and so I present you with some stills from my otherwise wobbly film debut. Fleur will be back in a few weeks' time to put the finishing touches on the paintings. Traditional pigment paint dries very slowly indeed - hopefully by then I will have had a chance to practice with the camera and can bring you a little film that's more 'The Agony and the Ecstasy' and a bit less 'Pollock'...

Musical Angels St Teilo's Church
Line drawings, or 'cartoons' of musical angels used in St Teilo's Church


Fleur Kelly painting angels
Artist Fleur Kelly working on a parclose screen at St Teilo's Church

Apple not so shiny

Posted by Mari Gordon on 3 February 2010

How disappointing to find out that, in one aspect, Apple are no different from Amazon. At the moment, no books are available for iBook in the UK. It seems Apple are just as behind as Amazon in negotiating publishing rights for the UK territory.

Disappointing, but understandable I guess. They're both American companies, based in the USA so it makes sense that they sort their domestic market out first. Also, as I've commented before, the iBook isn't being promoted as the iPad's primary feature anyway. It's just that, for some of us, that was what we've been waiting for! There's no way ereading will move towards the mainstream until we have a decent colour multi-touchscreen, multifunctionality and an intuitive UI. At the moment the devices on the market work for fiction (no images, minimum functionality needed) and the academic market (especially with the specialist Kindle Tablet for students). I'm looking forward to being able to browse my reading material in the way we now 'browse' the web.

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