Review of performances and exhibitions, and Curator's Report to the Friends, 2005
Ceredigion Museum 2005
A year to remember!
This year we celebrated the hundred years of the Coliseum 1905-2005.
The intention was to reflect the many uses of the glorious building and to bring as many live performances as possible to the old theatre and cinema.
We began the year with a dance performance by twenty students from Coleg Ceredigion's Performing Arts Course. 'Endangered and on the Edge' was an exploration by the students of the threat to nature by man's actions.
The Nomadic Players put on a production of 'An Ideal Husband' by Oscar Wilde in April. This play was first performed at the Theatre Royal in the Haymarket, London in 1895 and could possibly have been performed here at the Coliseum in the early days of the theatre.
In May our very own Jez Danks and Co. put on a lively and entertaining evening celebrating a hundred years in one night. Working with a Penrhyncoch primary school, he brought together many interesting and fascinating aspects of the period. Opera singer Olwen Davies starred in the production. The audience were even invited to sing the Coliseum song! The evening was repeated, with slight alterations, on October 14th.
Also in May we were treated to a delightful and unusual show by Stephen Long, a final year student from the Drama Department at the University. 'The Mind Magic of Stephen Long' was not a sleight of hand evening, more a sleight of mind one. As he said, 'If I tried to saw a woman in half it would be messy!'
June 9th saw the Grand Celebration Party marking the exact day of the original opening concert in 1905. David Russell Hulme provided a Palm Court Orchestra and the Aberystwyth Town Mayor, Mr Aled Davies cut the cake, which was in the shape of 100.
In July the Centre for Performance Research put on an extravagant show for two evenings called 'Boxes'. Again taking the theme of celebration as a starting point they explored the history of the building and interpreted the use of the Coliseum as a museum. This was a part installation, part promenade, part performance show which challenged the visitors to a more avant garde interpretation of the history of the building.
The Aberystwyth Music Festival took place in the last week of July and included two performances in the Coliseum.
Small audiences enjoyed the Brass and Big Band Sound as well as the Delphi Quintet.
In August the Coliseum was again used by the Punch and Judy Festival to show aspects of the traditional sea side children's shows on the promenade. A popular fun filled time was had by our young visitors.
The Elizabethan Madrigal Singers also performed during the month with some outstanding music including a wide variety of historic songs.
The Wardens Dramatic Society helped us celebrate with a production of 'The Boyfriend' by Sandy Wilson in September. The four performances were well attended with Full Houses on the Friday and Saturday. Using the stage and the auditorium in which to sing and dance the show was a great success.
October saw the use of the Coliseum as a cinema once again. With help from the National Screen and Sound Archive of Wales we presented two evenings of silent film accompanied by music on the piano by Paul Shallcross.
This was quickly followed by Theatre in Education Company, Arad Goch who once again worked with the museum to bring in hundreds of school children from all over the county. During November they performed a play called 'Merch Cae Bach' (The girl at Cae Bach) to over nine hundred children from Ceredigion.
A display of objects and costumes from World War 2 was loaned by Seimon Pugh Jones to coincide with the show.
We aimed to make 2005 a year in which to remember the Coliseum in all its glory. We hope you came and enjoyed some aspect of the year.
The highly successful display 'Journey Around the Room, from Bow Street to Bolivia' illustrating the life and travels of Dr. T. Ifor Rees, continued in the Coliseum Gallery until the end of February.
Photographer Marian Delyth, from Blaenplwyf, held a show of her black and white photographs in the gallery from March until April. Her pictures were produced by using a technique of double exposure, which she stumbled across by accident in her darkroom, creating a series of haunting images. A review of this show appeared in the publication 'Planet' later in the year.
'Crossing Over', a sculpture show, featured in the gallery through April and May. This was a collaboration with galleries in Ireland to display works of leading Irish and Welsh sculptors. This was an INTERREG funded exhibition from the Garter Lane Arts Centre,
In June the gallery was again full of paintings, this time by well known Welsh artist Chris Kinsey. Influenced by her childhood memories of growing up in South Wales Chris Kinsey explores the characters and roles played by women in Wales and indeed of her own experiences of being a Welsh woman.
The summer months were taken up by the Cardiganshire Arts Society exhibition which this year proved to be as popular as ever. This was followed by another Welsh female artist, Karen Pearce. Her display 'Town' was full of views of Aberystwyth painted in soft tones with an impressionistic vision. Light and colour are her main concerns but she is also fascinated by the relationship of man made structures to the natural environment.
'New Work' by Lynne Bebb followed. She is a sculptor from South Wales who works in a variety of media. Living in Wales she is drawn to using her knowledge of the history and the landscape of her area and creates challenging and visionary work in two and three dimensions. For this show she worked mainly with images of her own family and interpreted her own experience of growing up in Wales.
The final show of the year was from the Aberystwyth Printmakers. 'Present Prints' was a show of hand made prints made by a group of thirty five print-makers from the mid Wales area.
Producing a range of images based on their local environment these works were for sale together with cards and other items for Christmas.
Report to the AGM of the Friends of Ceredigion Museum 5.11.2005
The Staff remain the same:
Michael Freeman, Curator
Gwenllian Ashley, Assistant Curator
Stuart Evans, designer/technician
Mary Turner-Lewis, Museum assistant
Jez Danks, technician
Lorely Lansley, secretary (part-time)
Chris Davies, attendant
I would like to take this opportunity to thank them all for all they have done during the past year, particularly for all the extra effort they have put into the celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the Coliseum this year to make it such a success.
Muriel Rhodes Robert and Margaretta Pane have remained faithful volunteers, and we have had a number of others, including Bernie O'Grady, an archaeologist who has been working on the clay tobacco pipe collection; several on work experience and job training projects. Mary Turner Lewis is still on a part time contract, but puts in many extra unpaid hours.
January. 'Journey Around the Room, from Bow Street to Bolivia' illustrating the life and travels of Dr. T Ifor Rees
March. Photographs by Marian Delyth, from Balenplwyf
April, May. 'Crossing Over' This was a collaboration with galleries in Ireland to display works of leading Irish and Welsh sculptors.
June. Chris Kinsey paintings
August. Cardiganshire Arts Society exhibition
September. Karen Pearce. Paintings, 'Town'
November. 'New Work' by Lynne Bebb
December. Aberystwyth Printmakers. 'Present Prints'
Temporary Exhibitions - Auditorium
We have kept the main floor of the auditorium clear for much of the year for the performances on stage.
May 'Aberystwyth Green Festival' sculptures made form found objects and recycled rubbish.
May. Museums and Galleries Month. A celebration of the four free art galleries in Aberystwyth took place by highlighting the collections in a series of articles titled 'Objects of Desire'.
July. National Archaeology week was celebrated between the 17th and 23rd July
In October the museum took part in the annual BIG DRAW competition.
New Quay. Part of the Harbourmaster's office, a new building on the quay has been allocated to the museum and has been open at weekends since Easter and during most of August with assistance from local volunteers.
A detailed report on the future of the Town Hall as a combined Archive Office, Library and display space for Aberystwyth Yesterday was prepared by consultants in December last year. The suggestions have been approved by the Council's cabinet in principal and we are awaiting further reports.
The display in Llandysul Library has been changed by the Llandysul history group.
Llanon cottage was open again this summer with much valued help from local volunteers.
The Kite Centre, Tregaron has also been open most of the year with volunteer help. The Tapestry, designed by Margaret Jones and made by members of the community depicting the history of the area is almost finished and will be hung in the centre soon.
Work on the new store at Yr Hen Gapel, Tre'r Ddol has been completed. The basement store room is much drier and moveable racking has been installed. Work on transferring some of the collection from the Coliseum to there to make more space for the costume collection has been completed.
To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Coliseum, we organised 21 performances of 12 different productions.
March 22nd, Coleg Ceredigion Performing Arts Students 'Endangered and On the Edge'.
April 21st, 22nd and 23rd, Nomadic Players 'An Ideal Husband' by Oscar Wilde
May 12th,Stephen Long, Magician
May 14th,Jez Danks. The 100 year history of the Coliseum.
June 9th, Grand Opening Celebration (by invitation only)
July 19th and 20th, Punch and Judy Festival
July 22nd and 23rd, CPR performance 'Boxes'
July 26th and 27th Brass Band and quartet from the Music Fest
August 13th, Madrigal Singers
September 29th, 30th and October 1st. 'The Boyfriend'. A Wardens Production
October 14th, Jez Danks. The 100 year history of the Coliseum
October 27th and 28th, Films from The National Screen and Sound Archive of Wales
November 16th and 17th, The Girl at Cae Bach by Jeremy Turner
These performances have attracted 1126 people, and another 1000 school pupils are expected to attend the Arad Goch performances during school time.
A series of mosaics designed by Stuart Evans and supervised by Pod Clare have been fixed in the shelters around Castle Point, below the War Memorial. They illustrate events in the history of Aberystwyth Castle. Money for this was raised through the Friends of the Museum via Community First funding.
Local groups involved in the production of these mosaics include: the Young Archaeologists, Cardiganshires Society, Penparcau after school club, Park Avenue Day Centre, a Prince of Wales Trust group for young offenders, Dim Prob (University students)
Further funds have been raised from the Arts Council of Wales by the Friends to finance three more mosaic murals for this project. One to be made by people who attend Gorwelion (Llanbadarn Road); Canolfan Padarn, (the Social Activity Centre for those with learning difficulties) and an Open Access group for anyone else who is interested in working on the project. It is hoped the project will be completed by Easter 2006
The Web site
Difficulties have been experiences with loading the vast quantity of information we have prepared onto the existing Council web site. I am awaiting improvements in the software to be implemented before we can progress with this project.
Visitors spend an average of just over £1 each. We shall be investigating ways of making the shop more ecologically friendly and perhaps include a greater range of Fair-trade and locally produced products.
The number of visitors for 2005 is slightly lower than for 2004 but the total number of visitor numbers to the county also dropped. Visitor donations average just over 13p each (we suggest a donation of £1 per adult).
Just over 500 items were accessioned in 2004 - i.e. 2 items per working day. This is the lowest number for any year since 1972 and is in line with our policy of only collecting the following types of items: those that relate to Ceredigion that we don't already have; items that are offered as gifts and are better than similar items we purchased; items that have good historical associations with local people and places, and costume.
A portrait of David Davies of Castle Green House, Cardigan by Hugh Hughes, c. 1932 was purchased for £3,000. The Museums, Libraries and Archives Commission and Victoria and Albert Museum fund paid just under half and the Friends paid the rest. It is now on display in the Coliseum, since the conditions of the grant restrict us from displaying it in Cardigan at present.
Repairs to the Piano
The original Coliseum piano was repaired and tuned recently and is played each Wednesday morning by Mary Matthews. It was not possible to tune it to concert pitch because it is not strong enough, but it sounds very good. It cost at least £700. The Friends agreed to pay for this.
We have plans to produce new major travelling displays in partnership with other museums in Wales on Office Equipment used before Computers became common, and on Welsh Costume. Our programme for 2006 complete; most of 2007 is planned and we already have detailed plans for some of 2008.
I am most grateful to all the museum staff and volunteers who have worked so hard to make this year and special and exciting year and to the officers of Friends of the Museum who have enabled the Friends to continue to support the work of the museum this year.
Michael Freeman, Curator, 5.11.2005