Here are some images of the work of Nils Norman who is designing our new play area in St Fagans. For more information about his work and other projects, please check out his website
In Britain it is estimated that we use 13 billion plastic bottles each year, whilst this has a serious environmental implication, this mass production also has implications for the museums of the future.
Take for example, St Fagans National History Museum, in 100 years’ time what will be on display in the house of 2016?
In our modern society we have come to accept mass produced items as an essential part of our lives. Whilst producing items in this way is cost effective and practical, its introduction has meant that some of these items which historically would have been aesthetically pleasing have lost their aesthetic appeal.
In my room I have chosen to display a collection of bottles manufactured years before I was even born. I am drawn to the beauty and manufacture of these objects, their vibrant colours and slight imperfections. In the past a bottle with a primary function to hold a certain liquid, manufactured of glass could last for years and have a wide array of applications within its lifetime.
Now however, when we buy a bottle of water or fizzy drink, it generally comes in a mass produced bottle made of plastic. Whilst these are very portable they are not generally viewed as being very aesthetically pleasing.
Whilst I may choose to display an old glass bottle, a plastic bottle produced in 2016 would not make it onto my shelf.
Returning to the question of the St Fagans of the future, will they choose to display a plastic water bottle on the kitchen table, the new model of smartphone by the bed or even an E-reader on the bookshelf? Mass production has removed the individuality and beauty from some objects which in the past were manufactured with care.
In the future our culture will be conveyed through the artefacts which we choose to treasure, for some that may be a collection of antiques curated throughout the years but for others it may consist of a collection of modern objects.
The museums of the future will have a very tough time conveying our diverse culture through the use of a select few objects.
The future is uncertain but the choices over what we individually choose to curate will shape the perceptions of our culture in the museum displays of the future.
Cardiff Museum Youth Forum
Recycle-more. (2016). Top facts on recycling and the environment. Available: http://www.recycle-more.co.uk/pwpcontrol.php?pwpID=12809. Last accessed: 28th Jan 2016
So in my last post I was talking about how we have Nils Norman to design our new play area for St Fagans, I also mentioned that we were going to work with community groups and visitors in order to get their input into the play area. Last night I got my regular email from the amazing Playscapes website which was all about how to engage kids and community in playground design, super timely!
This is something we have been considering quite a lot - we want to engage our visitors and local communities, but how do you get children to talk about what they would like to see in a play area if all they've ever seen is a 'traditional' play area with swings and a slide? the article on Playscapes suggests asking the following questions to children:
What is the most dangerous, scary places you have ever gone?
Where would you like to go alone?
Where would you like to be right now?
What do you do that your parents tell you not to try?
What is the highest you have ever climbed?
Where do you go to be alone? To be with friends?
What is the silliest thing you have ever done?
What games do you invent?
How great is that? they also had a list of questions for adults, one of which was:
What value or sensation do you want your kids to experience: e.g. risk, fear, failure, satisfaction, accomplishment, beauty, tranquillity, action?
We want this playground to be different, we want a space where there can be risky play but there can also be quiet, contemplative play, a play area where children can enjoy creative play and a space that is open to be used in different ways. Of course overall we want it to be fun, a play area for plays sake.
Any thoughts please share - What is the highest you have ever climbed?
If you are a regular visitor to St Fagans you may have noticed:
a. The big red crane
b. the play area has gone.
The big red crane is obviously temporary as all the building work goes on for the new and improved St Fagans, and luckily the lack of a play area is also temporary as we are BUILDING A NEW ONE! not only that we are building a new one with Nils Norman - an artist who has been working extensively around play for a number of years.
Although Nils has been on board for a good few months now (with support from Arts Council Wales and the Heritage Lottery Fund), it has taken a while for the project to get going as there is so much organising to do beforehand!
We also needed to appoint two supporting artists to work on the project with Nils which we did at the end of last year. These support artists will be helping with research as well as community engagement. We want the play are to be unique, bespoke to St Fagans, accessible to all ages and abilities, create links with the collections, is fun and is also a work of art. To do this the artists will be undertaking lots of research - looking through our archive and stores, as well as holding workshops for community groups and visitors into what kind of play area they would like to see.
They are currently at the research stage which will take a few months, Nils will then provide some drawings, we will *all* have a look at them and report back and then all going to plan the actual construction will start towards the end of this year, with a finished play area for spring next year! (don't hold me to those dates)
If you have any ideas, or if you have seen some great play areas, please let me know. This is such an exciting project which I will keep you updated on as it progresses. Next post, i'll introduce you to our supporting artists.
For more information about Nils Norman's work, visit his website
A belated happy New Year to you all! In the weeks since I posted my last co-curation update, we’ve been on the road again co-producing audio-visual content for the Making History project. Working with various community groups and individuals, we've been creating short films based on the collections selected for display. These films will form part of the interpretation in the new galleries. Here's a quick overview of what we've been up to.
First World War
In December, I was invited behind the wired walls of Maindy Barracks to interview two serving members of 3rd Battalion The Royal Welsh. One of the new galleries will include a display about the First World War, focusing on voluntary action, healing and remembrance. My brief was to capture a glimpse into Army life today and to record contemporary responses to century-old collections. Inevitably, the interviews touched on difficult subjects – separation, injury and death. Hearing first-hand testimony from the soldiers was a fascinating experience. It's going to be a challenge to combine and edit the interviews into a three minute film.
Earlier this month, we shifted our attention to the 1984-5 Miners’ Strike. Working with colleagues from Big Pit National Coal Museum, we asked a group of Youth Ambassadors from Blaenavon to interview individuals who were involved in the Strike.
After a morning learning about the ethics and techniques of oral history, the young people formulated their own questions and spent the afternoon recording the interviews. We were conscious of the need to represent a diverse range of experiences; to give the young people the opportunity to challenge their preconceptions. With this in mind, we invited an ex-police officer to join the workshop, as well as former miners and others affected by the dispute.
You’ll have to wait until the new galleries open to see the results! Needless to say, the Young Ambassadors were natural interviewers – curious, probing and balanced. When asked to reflect on the process, Owen from Blaenavon said he'd been on “an extreme historical adventure”. I'll second that.
The work with 3rd Battalion The Royal Welsh is supported by the Armed Forces Community Covenant Grant Scheme.