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Oriel 1

March 2010

Keepsakes Community Arts Project with Women's Arts Association

Posted by Sian Lile-Pastore on 30 March 2010

What would you consider to be a keepsake? What objects are important to you and why? I love to be surrounded by little objects and ornaments that remind me of places I’ve been to and people I know, but I think that my most precious keepsake is a letter and a bracelet made out of crystals given to me by a close friend just before she died. To anyone else this piece of cheap jewellery wouldn’t mean anything, but to me it is imbued with memories and every time I look at it or read the letter I am transported back six years ago to when I first received it.

In St Fagans: National History Museum, as you would expect, we have lots of fascinating objects which all come with their own story. The picture below seems to be merely a bit of wood…

but it’s actually an

‘Elder-tree charm - consisting of an elder branch with the twigs cut to give a cruciform effect. Crosses of this type were thought to be potent against witches and other malevolent influences. Used in a Monmouthshire farm-house during the late 19th century.’

And what about this beautiful sewing box?

Made approximately in 1830 out of rosewood, mother of pearl, silk, paper and leather and used in Garthmyl, Powys it’s as if it has keepsakes within keespakes! The box itself is a beautiful blue, the inside lid (which you can’t see in this picture) is of ruched turquoise silk and it has lots of lovely little compartments filled with treasures such as buttons, needlework samples, bright coloured thread and even a lock of hair which you can see in the bottom left-hand corner.

To explore this idea of the keepsake we have teamed up with Women’s Arts Association to collaborate on a community arts project culminating with an exhibition in Oriel 1 in September 2010. The idea is that participants of the project will visit St Fagans and choose some objects from our collections which resonate with them and use these objects as a starting point to create their own works of art. Ultimately the intention is that the museum object they choose and the piece of work they create will be exhibited side by side.

Leading this exciting project are two experienced tutors and professional artists: Prue Thimbleby and Becky Adams. Prue specialises in basket weaving and sculpture using natural and recycled materials and Becky specialises in book arts and textiles and they could help you make beautiful keepsakes of your own!

Workshops start in May, and for details of those and the rest of the project, please visit

I’ll blog about the project while it goes along, and meanwhile will leave you with a quote from Sherry Turkle’s book Evocative Objects: Things we think with:

‘We find it familiar to consider objects as useful or aesthetic, as necessities or vain indulgences. We are on less familiar ground when we consider objects as companions to our emotional lives or as provocations to thought. The notion of evocative objects brings together these two less familiar ideas, underscoring the inseparability of thought and feeling in our relationship to things. We think with the objects we love; we love the objects we think with.’

We’d also love to know of any keepsakes you have and treasure - please write any comments below.

Allotment Keeper Photography Project

Posted by Sian Lile-Pastore on 25 March 2010

Maybe you've noticed that there's been a bit of work going on at the back of Llainfadyn Cottage recently. Well all that digging is part of photographer Betina Skovbro's fantastic new project where she will be creating an allotment with a bit of a difference!

To follow her progress, have a read of her blog and i'll put a few updates on this blog too.

The Allotment Keeper Photography Project is just one of many events dealing with biodiversity this summer. Check our events pages for more details.

Photographs by Betina Skovbro

More 1950s patterns from the artcart

Posted by Sian Lile-Pastore on 2 March 2010

Detail from 1950s dress

Detail from the prefab

Art Cart - St Davids Day

Posted by Sian Lile-Pastore on 2 March 2010