The Year Ahead: 2019

If you’ve ever wanted to visit the lofty spa town of Buxton and its museum, 2019 would a good time. We have two exhibitions focusing on aspects of local life: As we look forward to the re-opening of The Crescent as a spa hotel and visitor experience, our summer exhibition will focus on this iconic Buxton building with art works and artefacts from our collection.

7. Crescent what's on imageOn May 31st 1999, media in the High Peak changed forever. Radio Buxton took to the airwaves for the first time and five years later High Peak Radio was launched. 20 years on, the two brothers who founded both stations curate an exhibition featuring reconstructions of the original Radio Buxton studio. They’ll also be a ‘pirate’ studio including items of memorabilia, equipment and original recordings.

5. Steve Jenner - Broadcast Brothers 4

 

This year we are excited to be hosting Hoards: The Hidden History of Ancient Britain. Discover buried treasure and find out the various reasons why people put precious objects into the ground and why they did not retrieve them. The exhibition brings together finds from the British Museum and Salisbury Museum, including spectacular Iron Age gold torcs and recent discoveries from Wessex. We’ll also be displaying hoards from Derbyshire and the Peak District including additional material from Beeston Tor.

DERSB 9240-9249-9243-9222-9210-9212-9300 (1)

As usual, there is also a changing programme of art exhibitions and events. Download your 2019 What’s On below and plan your visit here.

Buxton Museum Whats On 2019_A5 brochure_WEB

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Making mermaids, mermen and monsters

Jenny Greenteeth’s Mother

Make a mermaid, model a monster,

shape a serpent

or simply love your water-people

February events the tide is washing in

Mermaids
one of our wilder Merfolk

Seapeople inspire us, it would seem….or water-people do, generally. Our Peak District “mermaids” are not saltwater folk but frolic in our cold spring-fed pools and stone-sprung, moss-spawned rivers. And looking wider, we meet Peg Powler and Jenny Greenteeth in their rivers, from Scotland come kelpies and water horses. There are spirits in streams and ladies in wells, hoary old river gods under bridges and strange monsters in lochs and lakes, tarns and llyns.

low sea puppets
a sea full of cheerful puppets, 21st Feb event

And then we get our feet wet as we go paddling and there are sea serpents and krakens, tritons and sirens. There are selkies and roane, fin men in their boats and the strong, sad, remorseless Blue Men of the Minch. There Shony in the western seas expecting his tribute to guide fish into the fishers’ nets. Just out from Liverpool, on the Irish Sea, we might meet Manannan mac Lyr riding in his chariot of seaweed pulled by horses made from the white foams of the largest waves. Or we might yet see the ghosts of the Children of Lyr who spent years living as swans on that same cold, wild sea.

Gordon MacLellan at Doxey Pool
Doxey Pool, the site of recent water-people stories

mermaid, buxton, faceAnd then there is Buxton Museum with our Victorian “mermaid” in her lonely splendour. She has a suitor, you know, a gentlemen (we think, with merfolk it can be hard to tell, and what does it matter anyway?) who spends most of his time in the Horniman Museum in Forest Hill in London. So if you are down that way, you might pop in and blow him a kiss from his northern lass…..

 

As part of BM125, we are exploring mermaids and our artist Rob Young is creating mermaid films and stories. You could have a look on this blog at some of his lovely posts about mermaids at the Museum, out in the Peaks and out of his own imagination

 

And still there is us at Buxton museum and we just enjoy our water-people….so we will have various watery moments over the next few months

 

Firstly, we have two events in February

low squid
Thursday: mermaids or maybe giant squid

Thursday February 21st: mermaids and monsters: 10.30 – 12.30, join us to make quick watery people. You might make a mermaid or a fish or a lobster or some dreadful creature no-one has ever seen before: the choice is up to you. This is a quick and cheerful activity making beautiful shimmery puppets

 

 

lower mermaids 3
Finfolk and merpeople….

Saturday 23rd, Wilder mermaids: and then we’d like to invite you to join us for an activity with a bit of fiddling, a bit of care, thinking and planning and building as we go to make fiercer, stranger, maybe more beautiful water-people….1 – 4pm

  • Details are still developing so times or event titles might change a little. Keep an eye on this blog, on the Creeping Toad facebook page or the museum events page on the BMAG website
  • Both events are free and materials are provided
  • No booking needed, just drop by and join in
  • Children under 7 need to bring a grown-up with them and these events are often busy so older children might well appreciate having their own adult nearby, too

 

Other BM125 events are coming for March and April, so watch out for more announcements – there should be minerals, sabre-tooth cats and some golden treasures. We are hoping that a mermaid tide will come in again in May!

 

 

 

 

 

Winter skies and shadows

Winter skies and shadows

Low W skies details

Shadow houses
shadow buildings

Public events in the BM125 programme are trotting on like reindeer across cold starry skies. In November, we took favourite things in the museum (the Bear!) or places in Buxton (the Dome) and turned them into laminated sheets of shadows and colour to put in our own windows at home

 

More recently, we made mobiles, asking visitors “what would fly in your winter sky”. Out of the comments came the poem below and a whisper, rattles and whoosh of drawings, ribbons and hanging pine cones

Low Winter fox
a fox from a winter sky

Rain clouds,

Become snow clouds in the sky above

My house with its garden giraffe.

There’s a cat sitting there,

Watching flowers and a yellow snail.

 

I live in a forest of green pointed trees,

An owl watches from a fir tree’s shelter

As the Grinch creeps down

To steal a snowman all in green.

Low Winter forest
winter wood and collage hedgehog

A star shines over the forest

As the owl spreads silent wings,

Into the sky where a bold red fox

Holds a bright blue star,

And a red castle floats in the clouds.

 

But rain clouds become snow clouds

And bright thoughts become sleep

As a star shines over the forest

And a jingling sleigh lands on my roof.

 

Words from the summer have been recorded and are posted as very short films on you-tube. Why not step into a moment of summer sunshine with the haymeadow spell, or pause for a longer wander across the fields of the Upper Dove Valley

Spell

Haymeadow

Buxton mermaid copy
Buxton Museum’s very own mermaid

Coming up in 2019, there will be a twilight walk in Buxton Country Park in February (planning still in progress – we’ll update soon!) and several mermaid events in half term. There will be a “beautiful mermaids and wonderful monsters” session on Thursday 21st Ferbruary. On Saturday 23rd, we’d like to challenge visitors to step away from their everyday mermaids and make some merfolk who challenge images and assumptions, using our own Buxton Museum Mermaid and our Peak District mermaid stories for inspiration

 

Mre details on those and some other very exciting BM125 events will follow soon!

THE MERMAID AS… QUEST

 

 

Introducing My Sister’s Scarf (working title)

If you had to leave your home at a moment’s notice and could only take one possession with you, what would you choose? For this blog, Richard and Amanda Johnson from Kidology Arts describe their current ‘work in progress’.

Buxton Museum and Art Gallery’s collection is made up of objects that have been chosen. Someone, at some point in time, has deemed them to be special and worth keeping. One of those objects is the Hopton hand axe. Around 350,000 years ago it was lost by its owner – probably a migrant hunter-gatherer following herds of deer north having crossed the land bridge that then connected what is now Britain to continental Europe. The axe would have been essential to its owner; its loss would have been serious.

Hopton Handaxe
The Hopton hand axe displayed in the Wonders of the Peak gallery at Buxton Museum

We want to make an artwork that draws parallels between the story of the people who first migrated to Britain and migrants who have come here recently. We hope to point out that migration is not something that has only happened in the UK in the last 50 years, but something that has been essential to its growth for millennia.

To enable us to hear first hand accounts of the journeys that migrants take and the choices they have to make we have recently begun a series of engagement workshops at Derby Refugee and Asylum Centre.

To make the artwork we will collaborate with choreographer Kevin Turner and emerging dance artist Maddie Shimwell from Company Chameleon in Manchester. The work will be inspired by real stories of recent migrants and will result in a 20 minute dance piece devised by Kevin and performed by Maddie, accompanied by Amanda on violin, performing a new piece of music she has written especially for the project. During the performance Maddie will interact with a piece of visual art made by Richard that, at this stage, we envisage will take the form of a large square of printed or painted material. As Maddie dances, she will manipulate the material into different forms: she might hide beneath it, wrap herself in it or bundle it up to cradle it like a baby.

The performance will be filmed and will appear on Buxton Museum’s web app, the Wonders of the Peak.

Funded by Arts Council England, this commission is a creative collaboration between Kidology Arts and Company Chameleon in celebration of Buxton Museum’s 125th year.

 

 

 

Shells, and gems, and dried cicadas

For the BM125 celebrations, my role is to create a series of events that will invite people to engage with the museum collection in creative ways. Events will happen in the museum itself and also out in the local landscapes that gave us so many of the wonderful specimens that we see in the museum today.

Events are already under way and as they unfold, we’ll advertise them here, on other museum social media and on the Creeping Toad* blog and facebook pages (just search for Creeping Toad). We’ll also feed back on the activities and results of the events: sharing poems and stories and “d-i-y” guides to the activities we have been doing, inviting you to try things for yourselves

Low Haymeadow

On National Meadows Day at the start of July, we were out enjoying the delights of hay meadows in the Upper Dove valley. Out of that grew a collective poem and a set of instructions for building your own landscape books

Memories are rooted in these meadows,

In the fleeting lives of butterflies,

In nodding seedheads

In thistledown drifting on a hot breeze,

Farms, families, paths, tools and stories,

All knitted as tightly to the earth as the meadow.

Childhood holidays rooted here too,

New names, first meetings,

Stonechats, curlews, those grasshoppers again.

Extract from the Haymeadow poem, July 2018

Cabinets 2018 - 42In August, there was a lively afternoon in the museum. Drawing inspiration from the current Collectors and Curiosities exhibition, we were making our own small cabinets of curiosity. Boxes, cupboards, treasure chests for precious finds and stray memories, these were bright, colourful and very distinctive.

You can see more of the cabinets here, find out how to make your own, here ,and listen to our “what will you keep in your cabinet” here.

The Cabinet poem follows: try reading it out loud!

Shells and gems and dried cicadas,

Stick insects if they ever stayed still long enough,

Or maybe just sticks.

 

Leaves and sticks and stones,

And rocks,

And sticks again sometimes.

 

Rocks and feathers,

And fossils.

Shells,

And sea glass from a wide, windy beach.

 

Cows, obviously,

And horses, maybe.

Pottery, Lego, coins,

Shells again,

Holiday treasures,

With sand from sunny places.

 

Cars and squishies and rubbers,

Because a special collection needs a special box.

 

Crystals,
And cryestels

And sharks teeth and other bones.

I collect shark’s teeth you see.

I have a lot of them.

There will be feathers and bones,

In my cupboard,

And my brother’s bones.

And my sister’s skull.

 

I have fossils from Robin Hood’s Bay,

And Lyme Regis where I found an ammonite,

Lots of tiny ammonites,

And one big one that will be too big for this.

 

This Cabinet will be full of memories.

This Cabinet will be full of leftovers.

This Cabinet will be a Museum for Bears,

This Cabinet will hold Treasures and Taonga.

This Cabinet will hold inspiration for my own creativity

Low Cabinets 2018 54

Our next BM125 public event is at Apple Day at the Dove Valley Centre  near Longnor, on Sunday 14th October from 12 noon – 4pm. Here we will be celebrating the heritage of orchards and old fruit varieties – a reminder that museums hold memories as much as objects and those objects belonged to lives lived in our wider landscapes. Join us and make your own apple-puppet to tell your own orchard stories. Check the social media pages mentioned above for final details

Low apples

*And I am Creeping Toad: storyteller, artist and creator of celebrations and disturbance. I also have a bit of a thing for amphibians…hence the Toad in the name!