Celebrating 200 Years: the Royal Cornwall Museum comes to life!

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It is damp and dreary but I have been looking forward to today for months so I was going to be put off. Walking up the granite steps into the museum I was immediately stuck by how bright everything looks. And how busy, my favourite little museum had really come alive!

I have been going to the Royal Cornwall Museum since the 1980s. I think every person I know who went to school in Cornwall has been taken to see the Egyptian mummy at some point. Since those school trips I have continued to visit regularly, to use the library, to hunt down an object I have read about or to attend a talk. But today really felt like a new chapter.

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The hard work of the past few months has paid off. All the familiar displays have been rejigged and reanimated somehow. They are better lit and there’s now plenty of fascinating interactive displays, things to handle, to get the mine racing – young or old. But by far the highlight for me was the new World Wide Wonders Exhibition in the quiet Treffry Gallery.

This room, usually reserved for functions, was an absolute joy. The room is filled with objects that the museum has had for hundreds of years in some cases and have never been put on display to the public before. Objects from every corner of the globe, brought back by adventurous Cornish men and women who made dangerous or ground-breaking journeys in to the unknown.

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There were objects from China and Tonga, India and Africa. A huge leg bone from the extinct Giant Moa bird of New Zealand, a tribal mask from Sierra Leone, a golden wedding coat from Albania and a magnificent wooden battle club from Fiji. Glass cabinets display collections from Papua New Guinea, China and the Navajo tribes of the US. Each object has a fascinating story to tell, of its origins, how it arrived where it is and the collector who brought it there.

Another highlight for me was the new Spotlight Gallery where you can discover the secret life of some of the objects in the museum’s care. With an estimated 321,000 items to look after only a tiny percentage are able to be seen at any one time and it is a huge task restoring, documenting and safely storing so many precious items of history.

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The founders of the museum wanted to inspire a passion for discovery and invention in us all and with these new exciting exhibitions and the reimagining of the original collections I really feel that the museum is embracing that ethos with a new found energy. I for one am looking forward to the year long calendar of events to celebrate this special anniversary of a very special place!

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If you enjoyed this you might also like: Falmouth Art Gallery: Andrew Lanyon and Nature’s Laboratory  and The Gibson Dynasty – Pioneers of Photography

 

 

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Falmouth Art Gallery: Andrew Lanyon and Nature’s Laboratory

Since I first came across Andrew Lanyon’s book A Fairy Find many years ago I have been fascinated by his work. He challenges me to see the world in a different way, a weird and wonderful, and often slightly perplexing, way.

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His latest exhibition which opened last weekend at Falmouth Art Gallery is called Nature’s Laboratory is a collaboration with some 37 other artists. This fantastical collection of diverse pieces asks you to take a moment and consider the work of Nature and her influence, her power and her control. Continue reading

Walking on Bodmin Moor – some of my personal highlights!

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I read recently that Bodmin Moor is less popular with visitors than Dartmoor because it has so few marked footpaths. There are numerous ‘routes’ across the moor but they are far less worn by foot traffic and in most cases not marked at all. But this is one of the reasons I and many others find this place so alluring. Continue reading

Ben Barker – Ceramist & Alchemist

 

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Ben Barker – Studio Ceramics

 

Cornwall is thought to have the highest concentration of working artists anywhere in the British Isles, outside of London and many of them are tucked away in the quiet of the Cornwall’s countryside. This winter I discovered a wonderful potter just a few miles from my home and just for a day I was transported into the elemental world of clay. Continue reading

Simon Bradley on Gyotaku, a seagull called Derek and finding his Cornish Bolthole

Weak sunshine glints off the glass of the small porthole in the door of the studio. The wood burner is roaring now and I gaze around at the eclectic collection of prints and miscellanea covering the walls.

“I don’t think of myself as anything really, I’m just me. You know, steering my way through life and engaging with things I enjoy.”

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I have just asked Simon Bradley how he sees himself. As an artist, a fisherman, an escapologist or a retired policeman. He didn’t really like the question. It would have meant pinning himself down, giving in to classification, interpretation. But he is, or was, all of those things. Continue reading

The Cornish Ten Hens Update

I guess the most important thing to say is that all the hens made it through the night. They are looking much brighter and are starting to scratch about inside their runs. We even had three eggs this morning but that is hardly surprising as that is all they have been good for up until now so . . . The plan now is to turn this:

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Into this: Continue reading

The Cornish Ten Hen’s Diary 1

Today we picked up 10 ex-battery hens from a cold and rainy yard near the village of Caharrack in Cornwall. Destined for slaughter these dishevelled looking birds are being given a second chance by the charity the British Hen Welfare Trust.

The Trust put out an appeal in the West Briton newspaper asking for people to come forward and offer homes to around 600 chickens who have never known a life outside of a cage. Having taken in some birds in similar circumstances a few years ago and remembering the state that they were in when they arrived made me want to record the process this time.

We arrived at the collection point at about 2pm this afternoon to collect our birds and found sheds full of half bald hens, some barely alive.

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Forgotten Memories of Tremough Convent School

As you drive towards the main campus of Falmouth University sharp modernist buildings fill the skyline. This once grand private estate has now been a place of learning and education for more than 70 years. Since Tremough Convent School closed its doors in 1993 however the old buildings have mostly been swallowed up by new development and forgotten.

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