Derbyshire – and the Peak District, which spills over into the neighbouring counties of Cheshire, Staffordshire, Greater Manchester and South and West Yorkshire – has one of the highest concentrations of calendar customs in the UK. These encompass everything from rituals of very ancient (possibly Pagan) origin like the well dressings and the Castleton Garland Ceremony; to more modern alternative annual sporting contests dreamed up over a pint or three down the local pub. Examples of the latter include Bonsall Hen Racing, the Mappleton Bridge Jump, the Great Kinder Beer Barrel Challenge and the World Championship Toe Wrestling Championships.
The area is peppered with ancient stone circles such as Arbor Low and the Nine Ladies, which provide a strong ritual focus into the 21st Century, drawing visitors from around the world seeking answers to their own individual questions. In addition, a number of unusual old carvings (some surprisingly explicit) can be found lurking in dark corners of the region’s churches.
Since 2015, Richard Bradley has been travelling the area documenting these strange rituals. His local history books Secret Chesterfield and Secret Matlock and Matlock Bath both feature chapters on local customs and folklore. Weird Derbyshire and Peakland includes objects from Buxton Museum’s collection relating to local folklore and customs not normally on display. You can see the exhibition, admission free, until Saturday 9 November 2019. Plan your visit here.
Nikki Anderson one of our Museum Attendants and Textile Designer has put together this blog about the 19th Century embroideries that are on display here at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery.
To celebrate the reopening of ‘The Crescent’, the iconic hotel in the centre of Buxton, Buxton Museum and Art Gallery are exhibiting some rare and exciting art works dating back to the early 18th Century alongside some more contemporary paintings and prints.
The Crescent was built in 1788 and included a hotel at each end of the building and six town houses in the middle and was commissioned by ‘The 5th Duke of Devonshire’. Its purpose was to provide luxurious accommodation for visitors to the town. His vision, to create a spa town to rival Bath. Architect John Carr designed the building which was completed in 1788. It quickly became a popular visitor attraction and became a focus for artists whom would interpret ‘The Crescent’ in various art forms.
I was fascinated in particular with 3 pieces of embroidery on display. All 3 embroideries show the view of ‘The Crescent’ as the focal point from the slopes at St Ann’s Cliff. There is little known about the embroideries other than they were created in the mid 19th Century. The detail achieved in these works is incredible. You can see in the detail below the accuracy in very small detail. This photo has been magnified so the tiny stitch work can be seen.
These embroideries have been created from etchings by Henry Moore which were made in 1819. Often the etchings were printed onto the silk fabric and the free hand embroidery was used to create the painting. On close inspection it appears that most of the embroidery would have been done by machine possibly using a pantograph method to transfer the stitches. Silk became very popular in the late 18th Century and by the mid 19th Century it became a common pastime to make these silk embroideries. I love the different contrasting effects used by the satin stitch on the machine and the hand stitching using running and seeding stitch (embroidery 3) whilst still obtaining such a delicate nature to the works. The fashioning of metallic threads of the 18th century have also influenced these works alongside the popularity of satin stitch and long and short stitch. In the magnified photo below a method called ‘couching’ has been used. This is where threads are placed on the surface of the fabric and then sewn stitched on by hand or machine. If you look closely you can see where the couching has unraveled showing the loose yarn.
It is interesting to note the fact these embroideries were worked upon in only 2 or 3 shades. Black and gold and/or beige silk. This may have also been influenced by’ Blackwork’, which was developed in the 16th and 17th Century and was incredibly popular.
These incredibly beautiful pieces of embroidery are on display alongside etchings, paintings and photographs until the 1st September at Buxton Museum & Art Gallery.
The Derbyshire Open Art Exhibition was officially opened last night and you can see the amazing artwork yourself for free until Friday 13 September 2019. Most of the works are for sale. The overall winner, The Derbyshire Trophy is a purchase prize and joins over a thousand other works in the museum’s collection for future generations to enjoy.
The Derbyshire Open Art Competition is run annually by Derbyshire County Council. In this the competition’s 37th year, 258 entries have been received from across Derbyshire and neighbouring counties. 22 entries from young people under 21 years were included in this year’s selection.
Three judges had the difficult task of choosing the pictures to exhibit and selecting the award winners. Sandra Orme is a Buxton artist and previous winner of the Buxton Spa Prize, Amanda Penman is the editor of Artbeat Magazine which promotes all sorts of artistic and creative activity in Derbyshire and Chris Walters is a member of The Friends of Buxton Museum and Art Gallery. The judges’ selection provides an exhibition celebrating the county and living here: where we live, the view and how we spend our time. It shows a good feeling about living in Derbyshire: the landscape, the friendliness of the people and the impressive architecture.
The Friends of Buxton Museum and Art Gallery sponsor a purchase prize. Chair of the Friends, Lindsay Crowe presented the award to this year’s winner which will be added to the museum’s collection.
One prize has yet to be decided. Visitors are encouraged to help choose the Visitors Choice Prize which will be announced in August. You can plan your visit here.
It’s nearly time again for Derbyshire’s premier art competition. Since 1982, the Derbyshire Open has attracted amateur and professional artists of all ages competing for a range of prizes and a place in the museum collection. Now in its 38th year, the resulting exhibition is the highlight of our summer programme. Entry form and details below:
A heap, a hoard, a treasure, a treat…a glitter of staters across a cave floor, the gleam of a brooch in darkness, a dream wrapped and bound and hidden in hope. What makes a hoard so special – and so very personal?
The Hoards: a hidden history of ancient Britain is still shining its way through the Museum galleries and our next set of events is coming up fast. Why not drop in and join us? all events are free and where materials are involved, they will be provided. Children of 7 years and less need to bring an adult with them but otherwise events are open to everyone
Sunday 26 May, 12 noon–3.30pm Giants, dragons and terrible traps
How would you protect your hoard? Would there be a monster rumbling in a corner? Would there be a dragon resting on the pile of your gold? Or would you design some terrible trap, a maze of crushing rocks and flying spikes and trapdoors to flip a robber into a bottomless pit….
Cartoonist Martin Olsson will help you draw your treasure and how you would keep it hidden!
Thursday 30 May, 10am–12noon Make and take: curious coins
Counting your pennies…..what coins will fill your hoard? Have a look at the coins in the exhibiton: there are horses and hands, gods and heroes, numbers, names and things we cannot decipher. Would you be the face on your lost gold? Would you hoard some unicorn pennies or open-hand thruppenies, or wren farthings…..
Design your own coins with local artist Sarah Males.
Allow 45 minutes.
Sunday 2 June, 12noon–3.30pm Silk purses and sow’s ears
“What would hold your hoard? Do you want a beautiful patterned purse, all beads and embroidery? Or would you like a painted pouch pulled tight with a drawstring to hold your hoarded coins safe? Or maybe you are a sow’s ear person, a folded twist of old leather, tough as boots and bristling with a the last of a pig’s hair
Make your own treasure bag with the Creeping Toad team, a special something to keep your coins in.