Collectors & Collections
St Teilo's Church - the book blog
At last, the first review for Saving St Teilo's has come in.
Reviews make me nervous but in a good, exciting way. I never really dread seeing them but it is a truth universally acknowledged (in publishing at least) that you can't keep all of the people happy all of the time. So, sooner or later we'll get a stinker. But not this time –
"Gerallt Nash’s book also conveys a spirit rarely found in museum publications – pride and joy, craftsmanship and passion, a genuine sense of adventure and achievement. It makes the reader not just want to see St Teilo’s, but also to wish that they had rolled up their sleeves and lent a hand in its rescue."
To read the rest of the review go to http://www.vidimus.org/booksWebsites.html
St Teilo's Church - the blog
We had a fabulous event at St Fagans yesterday. The weather wasn't quite with us - damp and overcast - but luckily lots of people were, and very many of them bought copies of the book!
I didn't catch the whole service as I was flitting around with boxes of books, but what I saw was very moving, and it felt intimate and totally natural.
Then a whole load more people arrived for the actual launch. People crowded into the Church and the two main speakers, Garry Owen and Eurwyn Wiliam, both did excellent jobs. Eurwyn spoke about the project from its beginnings, and as he's been involved with the project since its beginning 25 years ago it was a great overview. But, as always, humorous too! Then Garry Owen brought a lovely personal note, as he's a local boy who remembers the Church when it was still by the river Loughour at Pontarddulais. He really emphasised just how iconic the Church was - and still is - to the local community.
Finally everyone came over to Oakdale, the Workmen's Instititute, for refreshments and we were flooded with people queuing up to buy the book. It was like when you first arrive at a car boot sale! It was also great for me to finally meet some of the book's contributors, people I've only emailed up til now. I guess everybody was enjoying themselves as by 5.30pm some people didn't seem to want to leave!
The rest of the work for me is now to make sure all the relevant bookshops and retail outlets know about it. And making sure it's on the relevant websites. And sending out review copies... In a way, producing the book is only half the job: now we've got to sell it!
St Teilo's Church - the book
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!
St Teilo's Church - the book
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!
St Teilo's Church - the book
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
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.
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.
All the leaves are brown...
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.
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!
Once more unto the breach...
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!
Collectors & Collections