Tag Archives: art

While the Museum is Closed …

It’s been two weeks since Buxton Museum and Art Gallery closed for refurbishment and there have already been dramatic changes to the building. The staff room has been emptied to make way for a lift and the builders have ripped out the old toilets. This means the museum staff are temporarily having lunch in an empty art gallery and visiting a portable lavatory. We are happy to endure these provisional measures to improve the facilities for you, dear public.


Closure has given us the opportunity to take stock of the museum shop and pack everything away. This entails counting hundreds of imitation Roman coins, gemstones and Woolly Mammoths. The retail is actually part of the redevelopment. Arts Council England are kindly funding Buxton Museum to help improve both the shop and the merchandise. Some of the items on sale when we re-open next Spring are based on the collections and they will help the museum to establish a stronger identity. Click here for more information about our funding.


Goyt’s Bridge over the River Goyt by G.M. Brown. Copyrighted.

Some of the front-of-house staff are mucking in and have begun to write content for the new gallery. I’m working on a digital trail around the Goyt Valley. We aim to supplement a walk around the heritage-rich location by revealing items from the museum. It is based on an old blog of mine but we hope to build on this with the help of the Peak National Park rangers who care for the Goyt.


Empress cinema, Chapel-en-le-Frith 1935 Board collection. Copyrighted.

Jasmine is busy with a similar assignment on Chapel-en-le-Frith, a small town in the Peak District. Her granddad once lived there and Jasmine is applying the family knowledge to form a picture of the town’s fascinating and little-known history. Our goal is to do this with a lot of places in the Peak District. Buxton itself is ready to explore with a fledgling trail; see pocket.wonders.co.uk

Photo 10-09-2016, 13 24 10.jpg

The museum’s temporary closure doesn’t mean we have stopped running events. Our pop-up museum was previewed outside Buxton Opera House on Heritage Day two weeks ago and it will be making more appearances over the next few months. Watch this space.


Sooty was putting on a show too!

For more Buxton Museum and Art Gallery events, check our website.


Don Bramwell: The archaeological artist

When most people think about the work of Don Bramwell they will be reminded of his accomplishments within the field of archaeology, working on sites in Derbyshire such as Fox Hole Cave and Elder Bush Cave. But a select few might also recognise his creative side through his archaeological drawings of finds like this bear skull seen below. The accompanying photograph (showing the actual bear skull drawn in his diagram) helps to highlight the precision to which he gave to these drawings and how invaluable his talent was to aid in the recording of these sites, at a time when it was much harder to get a perfectly clear image from a camera.

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His talent for the arts was not just kept to archaeological objects and finds however, and while searching through boxes of archived material I have come across many detailed illustrative drawings, complete with watercolour additions, of plans and scenes strait from the digs themselves.


Some of his drawings are filled with vibrant colours and tiny detailed patterns. This sets them apart from most ordinary plans and sketches found in archaeology leaving these artworks to appeal to a widely varying audience – as who doesn’t enjoy the satisfying imagery presented in the images below?


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Although, what actually caught my attention most were the charming little doodles and sketches found around the boarders of his notes. Scattered and hidden throughout excavation notebooks containing his daily musings regarding the current state of the dig and the everyday occurrences of the archaeologist are hordes of little scenes. Some revealing animals which could be spotted around the Derbyshire countryside set within the margin of a page complete with a backdrop of rolling hills and a tree studded horizon. There can also be found doodles of flowers so tiny that they could be easily missed if you were simply skimming though the journals looking for information about the excavations. I should also not forget to mention the small sketches depicting the archaeological tools of the trade. Possibly trial sketches for his more elaborate drawings and excavation plans seen above or simply just Bramwell sketching out the items he could see around him. Either way they are still just as well drawn and fun to discover.

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(Above.) The man himself, Don Bramwell.

New Art Exhibitions for Autumn

The autumn season at Buxton Museum begins with three new art exhibitions. Emma Sidwell’s work as Ellia is created as a way to confront the confines of agoraphobia and illness. Working primarily in pen and watercolour, her exhibition is a glimpse into a universe of strange characters, creatures and constructs. You can see Agoraphobia – Starting a Journey until Saturday 14 November. Like all the exhibitions at Buxton Museum, entry is free. You can come and meet Ellia herself on Saturday 26th September, 2pm to 4pm.

Agoraphobia by Ellia

Agoraphobia by Ellia

Michéla Griffith’s detailed photographs of the River Dove and its tributaries on the Derbyshire-Staffordshire border are often mistaken for paintings. They reflect the underlying geology, the character of the day, the legacy of rain and the energy of the water. Form, features, colour and texture are all part of the images but they are foremost about the interplay of light and water while the shutter remains open.  Liquid Light is available to see until Saturday 14 November and you can meet the artist on Saturday 10th October, 2pm to 4pm or Saturday 31st October, 2pm to 4pm.


Buxton Museum offers frequent opportunities to view its own collection of artwork. Starting from Saturday 19th September, Take Two is an exhibition that explores the relationship between the paintings by comparing two works by the same artist or the same view by two different artists. This innovative way of exploring Derbyshire’s collection is available until Saturday 7th November.

Take Two detail

The Funduklian Story Part One

New exhibition Arto Funduklian: His Personal Choice opens at Buxton Museum tomorrow. Not only does the exhibition reveal a rarely-seen collection of magnificent art but also something about the man and the family who acquired it. To accompany the exhibition, we are privileged to present the research of performance artist Sarah Coggrave, as well as two actual performances in the gallery. Sarah’s findings about the Funduklian family are extensive and shed more light on our own art collection. Parts two and three will follow in the next couple of weeks. You can see the exhibition until Sunday 6th September. Over to you, Sarah:

This summer, Buxton Museum and Art Gallery showcases the art collection of Arto Funduklian – an Armenian textile trader who resided in Buxton during his latter years. Arto was born in Constantinople (now Istanbul), but grew up in Manchester, and spent much of his adult life doing business in New York. He had four siblings – three younger brothers and a sister, Astra.

On July 25th and August 15th, between 2pm and 4pm, the exhibition will receive a visit from Arto’s sister, Astra, re-imagined as an artistic performance.

My name is Sarah Coggrave, and I’m a performance artist and researcher currently based in Derbyshire. I’ll be responsible for bringing Astra to Buxton. My practice involves creating characters, costumes and gestures to bring hidden histories to life. I also possess the unique experience of having lived in the former Funduklian home – a large red brick Edwardian villa in Didsbury, a suburb in South Manchester.

Above: The former Funduklian home, at 20 Pine Road in Didsbury (source)

Whilst in residence there I produced a solo exhibition and live performances, inspired by the Funduklian family. This was shown at Didsbury Parsonage in 2014, and was accompanied by research for Archives+, in conjunction with the Greater Manchester County Record Office. The project was also included in the recent BBC Radio 4 documentary Out Of Armenia.

Above: ‘Astra’ at Didsbury Parsonage in March 2014 (source)

Before his successful forays into business and art collecting, Arto and his siblings grew up Didsbury – an affluent area of Manchester, under the watchful gaze of parents Karnig and Aznive, and several servants. The house has since been converted into flats, and for one year I resided in number 1 – the room in the basement, with a view of the leafy garden.

Above: The garden at 20 Pine Road (source)

The name on the gatepost of this grand house quickly became a source of fascination for me, even before knew anything about the Funduklian family. On a street filled with very English names, the word Massis, engraved on either side of the gate, in elegant capitals, stood out.

Above: The name on the gatepost (source)

Further research revealed it to be an Armenian word, an alternative name for Mount Ararat. It is here, deep in the Middle East (now part of modern-day Turkey) that Noah’s Ark supposedly came to rest (following a biblical flood), and the landmark holds immense significance for Armenian communities across the world.

Why, I wondered, would my home have been given such an exotic name?

A painstaking search of census records eventually revealed the answer. The 1911 England and Wales Census revealed the first record of a family living at 20 Pine Road – the Funduklians. With four children and several servants, this was evidently a family that had thrived in Manchester’s industrial heyday. Didsbury was (and still is) a haven for the well-to-do. But who were these people? And what had brought them to Manchester?

Above: The Funduklian Family – Arto is the young boy on the left (source)

(With permission, courtesy of Greater Manchester County Record Office)

Karnig, the head of the family, was the first to arrive in the city from Constantinople, where many Armenians then resided. Shortly before his arrival I also came across that of a Tigrane Haroutune Funduklian. Whilst I’m unsure of the exact relationship between the two, it seems likely that, they arrived in Manchester to research business prospects.

Indeed, the mid to late 1800s, Britain saw a surge in the arrival of Armenian migrants. Many went on to run successful businesses in Manchester – certainly prospects were better here than in the then Ottoman Empire.

In Constantinople and elsewhere, Armenian families such as the Funduklians would have faced increasing persecution, not only affecting their prospects of prosperity and success, but ultimately their lives also. The Hamidian Massacres and the Armenian Genocide provide chilling examples of fates the Funduklians might otherwise have faced, had they stayed in Turkey.

Above: The Funduklian family business agreement, Manchester, 1911 (source)

(With permission, courtesy of Greater Manchester County Record Office)

From a fledgling family shipping and textile business, Karnig successfully created a livelihood in Manchester sufficient to bring over his young family.

In Didsbury, Karnig and his wife Aznive were able to offer their four children a life of safety and affluence, far from the horrors of persecution in the Ottoman Empire, and from the dust and smog of industrial central Manchester.

Arto and his siblings were to thrive in their new home.


Archives+ (2013) Various articles, accessed 2015 at http://manchesterarchiveplus.wordpress.com, online source.

England and Wales Census (1911) Record for 20 Pine Road, Didsbury, accessed 2013 at http://ancestry.co.uk, citing National Archives, Kew, UK.

George, J. (2002) Merchants In Exile: The Armenians Of Manchester, England 1835 – 1935, Taderon Press.

Manchester Guardian (1900-1950) Various articles accessed 2013 at http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/, online source.

Winners of the Derbyshire Open

The 33rd Derbyshire Open Art Exhibition opens this weekend. Professional and amateur artists of all ages have submitted work for consideration by a panel of independent judges. The top prize is £750 and the winning work is usually acquired for the museum collection. We have already had some wonderful comments from visitors, who agree with the judges that the standard of entries this year was particularly high. Please make a visit to the exhibition and see if you agree. You can vote in the remaining prize category, the Visitor’s Choice Award, until 2 August (the winner will be announced on 4 August.) The Derbyshire Open Art Exhibition runs until Friday 11 September.

Kinder Downfall by Stuart Johnson, winner of the Derbyshire Trophy 2015

Kinder Downfall by Stuart Johnson, winner of the Derbyshire Trophy 2015

Derbyshire artist Anna Thomas has been kind enough to share her experience of winning the competition in 2014. We hope that it will inspire you to have a go yourself next year. Over to you, Anna:

In 2014, I was awarded The Derbyshire Trophy for my painting Sheep On Hard Ground. It was the first time that I had entered The Derbyshire Open Art Competition and I did not pay much attention to the list of prizes – after all, winning prizes was something that only happened to other people; I was just hoping that I might be lucky enough to get one of my paintings accepted for the exhibition.

The news that I had won the trophy therefore came as a complete and wonderful surprise. This award has helped me to continue to establish myself as an artist, and it is also very special to feel part of a tradition and to know that my work is included in Buxton Museum and Art Gallery’s permanent collection.

My thanks to all at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery and my congratulations to Stuart Johnson, the winner of the 2015 Derbyshire Trophy.  I look forward to seeing your painting, Kinder Downfall.

Sheep on Hard Ground by Anna Thomas, winner of the Derbyshire Trophy 2014

Sheep on Hard Ground by Anna Thomas, winner of the Derbyshire Trophy 2014

Please note that Buxton Museum and Art Gallery takes copyright very seriously and if you wish to use the images in this post, please drop us a line at buxton.museum@derbyshire.gov.uk