Review of performances and exhibitions and Curator's Report to the Friends, 2004
Review of 2004
The year started with 'Fabulous Fashions' - a display of clothes of Welsh tapestry weaving from the 1960s.
We then went on to display the work of Daisy Williams, (1925-2001) a textiles teacher who inspired many generations of pupils at Aberaeron Comprehensive School. The retrospective show of her indigo fabrics and collages reflected her love of colour and her enthusiasm for experimentation. 2004 was also the year in which 'A Summer Journal', the diaries of her late husbands, Gwyn Williams, was published. Over the school half term Jez Danks offered workshops in story telling linked closely to the objects held in the Ceredigion Museum collection. Children were able to invent stories and performed a short presentation to their parents.
In March Noelle Griffiths, of North Wales, displayed her miniature art books, along with her recent paintings in the Coliseum Gallery. These inspired many visitors and John Reading, a visiting pottery teacher, returned to the gallery with work that had been done by a group of young children. The children had made pottery books impressed with images into the clay tiles, then binding them together with string.
The Young Archeologists Club, who meet every month at the museum under the supervision of John Ibbetson, a teacher at Penglais School, created an interesting display base on research into the history of some outstanding characters from Aberystwyth. Working with Michael Freeman they visited the local archives and library, and delved into the museums own collection to put together the show 'People of Aberystwyth'.
While the usual work went on at the Ceredigion Museum, Gwenllian Ashley, assistant curator, was also busy working on a new display of antique Welsh quilts with Jen Jones at the American Museum, at Claverton Manor in Bath. This show consisted of a range of American and Welsh quilts being displayed alongside each other. The show ran for six months at the museum and a trip was organised from the Ceredigion Museum during Museum and Galleries Month in May. 'Stars, Stripes and Spirals' was a huge success and Welsh quilt collector Jen Jones was very pleased to have been able to display her collection at the internationally famous American Museum.
We were very fortunate to discover Peter Newill, of Talgarreg this year. He collects and restores seed drills and his extensive colourful collection was brought to the main auditorium for showing in May. Some outstanding examples were displayed and many local people remembered using similar examples on their own farms.
Another event during the Museums and Galleries Month of May saw the publication of a new book 'Mid Wales: Ceredigion and Powys', published by Frances Frith. The Ceredigion section was written by the curator, Michael Freeman. The collection combines evocative pictures with snippets of local history.
Art on the Town also held a competition in May but unfortunately had a poor response this year.
One of the highlights of the year was the opening of an exhibition by printmaker Ian Phillips from Machynlleth. His beautiful lino prints were inspired by a walk he undertook from Aberdovey to Aberystwyth via Dinas Mawddwy and Machynlleth. 'The way to here' included some forty prints each produced by the reduction method of printing which results in there being a limited number of each image. At the same time a very popular exhibition of photographs was displayed by the young art student Nichola Ann Sherhod. As a student at the University School of Art she had set herself the task of producing images which were taken at the same place in Aberystwyth as those taken by Arthur John Lewis, a local photographer at the turn of the twentieth century. Using selected images from the collection of some 3,000 glass negatives held at the National Library of Wales, Nicola chose about twenty scenes to compare.
The Coliseum building needed some repairs during the year and the plaster ceiling was restored during May and June. This led to the need to close the top gallery for a few weeks and also led to the need to clean the displays more thoroughly!
We were very fortunate to have a French student working with us for six weeks. Naomie Arnault, from Bordeaux, was able to translate our currant brochure into French and enjoyed working with our collections care officer Mary Turner Lewis. Mary was busy preparing a display called 'A Place in the Sun'. It consisted of a tableau on the stage which included costumes and artefacts from the 1950s.
In July a number of agricultural artefacts from the museum collection were displayed at the Royal Builth Wells show. The Welsh Assembly stand at the show attracted a huge audience and many visitors were delighted to discuss the item with Wales's First Minister Rhodri Morgan.
The summer brought the Cardiganshire Arts Society annual show to the Coliseum Gallery, and the Punch and Judy Festival organised for the promenade were delighted when the museum was able to house over four hundred visitors during a very wet weekend.
During September an exhibition of Rag Rugs was shown the temporary display area. Antique and modern rugs were displayed alongside each other and Sue Clow, a local maker, was able to offer two weekend workshops which proved to be very popular.
'Visitors' Views' was a display consisting of images and information gathered together to illustrate the impressions of people who came to this area. Michael Freeman curated this display which proved to be a very informative and fascinating collection of quotes from diaries, publications and travel brochures, together with selected prints and paintings. This show was visited by many and often.
One of our most important visitors this year was Alun Pugh, Welsh Assembly Minister for Sport Art and the Welsh language. To coincide with his visit CyMAL, the Assembly sponsored body for Museums, Libraries and Archives, were here to test out a new personal computer interpretation system. Ceredigion Museum is piloting this project under the Inspiring Learning for All scheme and the Minister seemed suitably impressed. Children from Ysgol Rhydypennau together with teacher and computer information interpreter Helen Jones were here to welcome him and explain how the system worked. It involves the use of small hand-held wireless computers that will enable school groups to find out as much as they want about objects in the museum. The information will be on the web site. They will also be able to gather information before and after their visit.
The year closed with two spectacular openings and shows. 'Shocking! Dare to wear' combined local and foreign work. We were able to greet Bademba, tailor from Conakry, West Africa with his colourful clothes including many indigo garments. These would have delighted Daisy Williams. Art works based on the theme of clothing were also shown by Jacky Puzey, Ami Marsden, Abi Lake, Becky Knight and Andrew Logan.
The second exhibition was a private collection of the diplomat Dr. T Ifor Rees (1890-1977). 'From Bow Street to Bolivia' included not only his books and publications of but also the private letters and photographs from his extensive photograph album collection. A keen walker and photographer this show gave us a glimpse into his adventurous and exotic life. A local man who graduated from the University of Aberystwyth he played a leading role in foreign affairs while based in many countries, mainly in South America.
We would like to thank all of the volunteers who have worked with us this year and look forward to seeing you all again in 2005.
Stuart Evans, December, 2004
CURATOR'S REPORT TO THE FRIENDS OF CEREDIGION MUSEUM AGM, 2004
The Staff remain the same:
Gwenllian Ashley, Assistant Curator
Stuart Evans, designer/technician
Jez Danks, technician
Lorely Lansley, secretary (part-time)
Chris Davies, attendant
Mary Turner-Lewis, Collections care officer
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 work of the museum this year to make it such a success.
Mary Turner Lewis is now employed for three days a week, and she often works for several other days a week. She continues to care for the costume collection and supervising both regular and short-term volunteers.
We have also had several people on training and work experience schemes.
I would particularly like to thank our regular volunteers, Miss M.E. Rhodes Roberts and Marguerita Payne and Doreen Harris. They have been working on the costume collection under Mary's supervision. Jon Dagger has been working as a volunteer, scanning in and cataloguing photographs. At present he is working here on a project to scan in some of the 10,000 slides in the County Library collection. Jeremy Jones was employed on a short term contract to help get the web site ready for the Inspiring Learning for All project.
The numbers of visitors that came to the Coliseum last year was just over 40,000 the largest that we have ever had in one year but the numbers this year were slightly lower.
Branch Museums and co-operative projects.
Lampeter Library; Red Kite Centre, Tregaron; Llanon Cottage; Hanes Aberteifi displays, Cardigan; New Quay
All the Branch Museums except New Quay have been open as usual this year, and I am most grateful to all the volunteers who have helped open them.
Work has been completed on internal improvements downstairs at Yr Hen Gapel, Tre'r Ddol. This is about to become a store for furniture and the original R.J. Thomas collection and will be open by appointment.
The web site
We now have a bilingual web site as part of the County Council's site. It includes basic information about the museum, branch museums, current and future exhibitions, facilities for schools and some aspects of the collections. We are able to direct people to it when answering questions. It has also resulted in contacts with experts and others who have shared their knowledge about items in our collections with us.
There are pros and cons concerning the web site – it is easy to create two parallel web sites, one in each language, but difficult to make the pages look attractive.
Although we are not actively collecting very much any more, we are still offered items for the collection and we accept those that fill gaps in it, or can be used as part of a handling collection. This year we have accessioned nearly 600 items. We have stopped collecting Welsh Tapestry, but are still keen to collect other costumes, especially those that are well provenanced.
The shop continues to be successful. You will note that we are already selling Christmas goods.
A list of exhibitions has been sent to all members of the Friends and is available on the web site.
The Local History Forum
The forum held meetings at Llanrhystud in the spring and at Llwyncelyn in the autumn, both of which were well attended.
Michael Freeman 13.11.2004