Saturday, 24 June 2017

Poetry workshop at Royal Cornwall Museum

A wonderful poetry workshop today at the Royal Cornwall Museum, Truro, today led by local author Jenny Alexander. Poems were inspired by different elements of our exhibition Heart of Conflict, looking at Cornwall during World War One.
The exhibition closes at the end of next week - and it will be sad to take it down! But hopefully poems and short stories created during it will live on after its stay here at the Royal Cornwall Museum.
Other elements will be touring: watch this space.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Talk on WW1 tunnelling disaster

The trenches in northern France where William Gendall
Jenkin died are now covered with woods.
Great to see so many people at Juliet Jenkin's talk at the Royal Cornwall Museum, Truro, on William Gendall Jenkin, a Cornish miner who died in a tunnelling disaster at the Western Front in World War One. William was one of many hundreds of Cornish miners who dug out under enemy lines to plant mines.
It was dangerous work - and William died underground with several of his friends who joined up at the same time in Camborne.
He was a cousin of Juliet's late husband - and Juliet's personal interest and commitment made this a very interesting and moving presentation.
This was the last talk in our lunchtime series for our Heart of Conflict (Cornwall during World War One. We'll be taking down the exhibition on 1 July 2017.

Monday, 12 June 2017

The convoy yard, Etaples

Only just come across this atmospheric World War One watercolour by Cornwall-based artist Ernest Procter. Procter lived in Newlyn through the war years, and was a friend of Harold and Laura Knight (she later went on to be an official war artist in WW2). He was also a close friend of the controversial vicar of St Hilary, Bernard Walke, and contributed wonderful illustrative panels (and altarpieces) for the church.
This watercolour shows a different, matter-of-fact, facet of his personality.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Vita Sackville-West's history of Women's Land Army

Am reading Nigel Nicolson's Portrait of a Marriage - and there are unexpected revelations about World War One.

His mother (the writer and renowned gardener) Vita Sackville-West is bowled over with excitement in April 1918 on discovering the clothes worn by women in the Land Army.

They are liberating - and open new doors and horizons for her....She later wrote to her very close friend Violet Trefusis:

"I had just got clothes like the women-on-the-land were wearing, and in the unaccustomed freedom of breeches and gaiters I went into wild spirits; I ran, I shouted, I jumped, I climbed, I vaulted over gates, I felt like a school boy let out on a holiday....."

Later she was to write a history of the Women's Land Army. World War One changed society - and life - for women generally.

Essential reading over coffee....

Dropping in to a cafe in Truro for coffee... it was great to pick up a leaflet featuring Heart of Conflict (our WW1 exhibition at the Royal Cornwall Museum)!

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

A soldier's tale, a mother's story

Written this morning at our short story workshop at the Royal Cornwall Museum, Truro - inspired by Heart of Conflict:

A soldier’s tale, a mother’s story

“Please, mum, I don’t want to go. Don’t make me go. I’m scared. I’ve never been away from here. Why do I have to go?”
“Because everyone else is going. All your mates. The whole of Dolcoath expects it. You’ll shame this family if you don’t. So go out, have a pint, come back and tomorrow be a man…” It was 7am and his mother was shouting furiously. “You’ve missed muster deliberately, you coward.”
“No, I didn’t. I just drank too much. I will go, mum – for you. I want you to be proud. Please…. I’ll run now.”
Wilfred dragged on his uniform, grabbed his kit bag and ran out the house, torn. He was in total turmoil.
“I don’t want to go, but I must go because I can’t let mum down. What can I do?”
Then he saw the milk cart standing on the corner.
Wilfred had never stolen anything before.
“I’m only borrowing it,” he said to himself as he urged the horse onwards to the muster point at the station. And then he saw his old foe, the local police sergeant, and his heart sank. He’d missed the muster and he’d stolen a cart and it must be obvious to Sgt Williams what was happening.
The policeman looked at Wilfred. Sgt Williams was notorious for his hard, unflinching ways. Many boy had felt the back of his hand. Many young men had ended up in his cells for very little. Wilfred sobbed. He was terrified – of going to war, of shaming his family, of going to gaol.
They looked at each other.
Then Sgt Williams spoke.
“Ok, Wilfred my lad, let’s sort you out. These things happen. We’ll get you there.”
Wilfred was open-mouthed as the policeman gently led him back to the cart and drove through the back roads to Truro where the Dolcoath lads were still waiting for their connection to the Front at the station.
They cheered when Wilfred appeared. He swallowed and steeled himself for what might lie ahead. He turned to thank Sgt Williams but he had already turned the cart round and slipped away.
Wilfred said to himself “I’ll do you proud, mum, even though I don’t want to go.”
It was October 1914. He was only 19. He never came home again.
And his mother, back at their little house in St Agnes, never forgave herself for forcing him off to war for pride. They never found his body so she refused to believe that he wouldn’t return home one day.
And every night, for the rest of her days, she kept a candle burning and a cold supper on the kitchen table just in case.

Short story writing in Truro

A thoughtful Tuesday morning in Truro ... a short story writing workshop at our WW1 exhibition Heart of Conflict at the Royal Cornwall Museum.
The session - inspired by stories featured in the exhibition - will result in some pieces that will live on after the exhibition closes (at the end of this month).
We'll post up contributions here on our blog  - and on the project's websites.  Click here to read the first ...

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Saving lives at sea - the inside story

Local historian Len Sheppard gave a fascinating talk on life at sea during the war years during our exhibition Heart of Conflict at the Royal Cornwall Museum, Truro.
Len, co-ordinator of Newquay Museum, is passionate about the subject and has a treasure trove of  material on it.

He talked about the build-up to the War - and then the war years, when people who were close to the sea were often pushed to extremes. Fishermen were called upon to help with rescuing people from torpedoed ship: a descendant of the Hicks family of fishermen pictured in Len's slideshow still lives in Newquay today.

Central to Len's talk were the events of December 1917 when the crew of lifeboat “James Stevens Number 5” defied the elements to battle through mountainous seas to rescue a stricken Danish cargo ship carrying vital war supplies.

Later this year, there will be special exhibitions at Newquay Museum to mark the centenary of this event. To find out more, visit the Museum's website.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Bridging Arts welcomes new trustee

We are pleased to announce that Zorica Nikolic-Parry has joined Bridging Arts as a trustee. Zorica is head of finance and facilities at the College of Optometrists, a membership organisation and an examining body for optometrists. She has worked in both the private and not-for-profit sectors. Zorica is a  qualified ACCA accountant.
"Bridging Arts has been involved in some great projects and I am very happy to be joining as a trustee," she said.  "I would like to see the charity grow so that we can reach more people.”

Monday, 22 May 2017

Coastal film events in Cornwall

Exciting news from Cornwall Film Festival about coastal film events in Cornwall this summer - this is part of the British Film Instititute's 'Britain on Film' project.
For more details of the Cornish events  - click here.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

William Gendall Jenkin: June lunchtime talk at Royal Cornwall Museum

If you're in Truro, Cornwall, and free at lunchtime - please do call in to one of the lunchtime talks around our World War One exhibition, Heart of Conflict at the Royal Cornwall Museum.

The ground, now overgrown with woodland, where
William Gendall Jenkin died in France
In June, local historian Juliet Jenkin will be talking about her research on William Gendall Jenkin, a cousin of her late husband.  William, a miner, signed up in Camborne and died on the Western Front with many of his companions.

Wednesday 14th June 2017
1pm - 2pm


Making subtitles better

Huge thanks to our volunteer Katrina Williams who attended the European Federation of Hard of Hearing People's annual conference in London earlier this month.
Katrina told me about a range of work being done around the conference theme: 'Staying connected, informed and empowered' - ranging from Apple's work on making iPhones accessible to work on subtitling programmes at the BBC, and elsewhere.
On this subject, the Centre for Translation Studies at University College London (UCL) is running a study on the quality of subtitles  - and is seeking participants who are prepared to complete a 90-minute testing session watching subtitled videos and answering questions related to them.  The Centre will provide £25 payment as compensation for your time.
If you'd like to participate - email Dr Agnieszka Szarkowska  -
More on this initiative on

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Creating historical costume from old photographs - a picture gallery

Photos from a presentation by historical costume expert Lorna Kinsey-Jones at the Royal Cornwall Museum, Truro, earlier this month. Lorna created the fabulous nurse's uniform and Land Army smock which are currently on display at Heart of Conflict, our exhibition on Cornwall during World War One.
Sarah Lloyd-Durrant,  who worked on the digitalisation of the museum's collection of photographs by A. W. Jordan, talked about the archive.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Spring embroidery at the Masbro Centre

A great session at the Masbro Centre today with old friends! It's been a year now since the first session led by our volunteer Katrina Williams. This workshop had a spring-like theme - a primrose.

Talk at Royal Cornwall Museum: Saving Lives at Sea

Don't miss local historian Len Sheppard's talk at the Royal Cornwall Museum, Truro, during our World War One exhibition Heart of Conflict: he'll be talking about Cornwall and life at sea during the war years.

During the War, people who were close to the sea were often pushed to extremes. Fishermen were called upon to help with rescuing people from torpedoed ships. And in Newquay, the crew of lifeboat “James Stevens Number 5” defied the elements to battle through mountainous seas to rescue a stricken Danish cargo ship carrying vital war supplies.
Wednesday 31 May 2017
13:00 – 14:00pm

 To book, visit the Royal Cornwall Museum's Events' booking site.

Inspiration for our sewing workshop

Portrait of a Lady with spindle and distaff/Maarten van
Heemskerck (1498-1574). Painted 1531.
A splendid painting of a woman with sewing kit to inspire our workshop today at the Masbro Centre, Hammersmith.
Our volunteer Katrina Williams will lead an embroidery session themed to match the weather - spring.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Springtime embroidery in Hammersmith

We're looking forward to our next workshop at the Masbro Centre in Hammersmith, London on Tuesday 9 May. Our volunteer Katrina Williams will be leading an embroidery workshop on the primrose design.
It's nearly a year  now that we've been working with the older people and volunteers at the Masbro Centre. It's been such a rewarding experience for us - and hopefully for everyone who participated.
The embroidery created has been on display there. Click here to view.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Free poetry workshop: Remembering Cornish experience in World War One.

Detail from a WW1 autograph book on display at Heart of Conflict

Saturday 24 June 2017
14:00 – 16:00

Acclaimed local author Jenny Alexander offers a unique two-hour session at the Royal Cornwall Museum, Truro, looking at the searing stories of sacrifice, love and loss presented in our ‘Heart of Conflict’ exhibition. Come and explore your personal responses to the wartime experiences of the people of Cornwall, through crafting and sharing poems. Suitable for everyone, including complete beginners. Booking essential 15 places only.
Enrolment is free and includes entry to the Museum. Email to book your place or book via on the listings page of the Royal Cornwall Museum.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Primo Levi - If This Is A Man

An epic reading of Primo Levi's If This Is A Man on Sunday at the Royal Festival Hall.
Such a devastating account: if you haven't read it  - do.
Kemal Pervanic, who survived Omarska concentration camp in the Bosnian war, read. As did playwright Tom Stoppard, actors Samuel West, Henry Goodman and Emma Pallant  - and others including Susan Pollack, a survivor of Auschwitz.
The readings were powerful - and made more so by music (sometimes accompanying). For example, Ernest Bloch's Prayer for Cello and Piano (performed in this Youtube clip by Ying-Jun Wei).

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Creating a legacy: free writing workshops at Heart of Conflict

As part of Heart of Conflict, our exhibition at the Royal Cornwall Museum on Cornwall during World War One, we're running two writing workshops over the next couple of months. 

These are for complete beginners as well more experienced writers.  All are welcome. Entry is free and includes entry to the Museum. To book visit here or email

Telling stories: Putting Pen to Paper
Wednesday 7th June
10:30 – 12:30

Inspired by our Heart of Conflict exhibition – looking at Cornwall in 1914-18 – this session will allow you to discover tales and write stories that, until now, have never been celebrated.

The exhibition looks at events across all classes, and affecting all lives: from conscientious objectors to stretcher bearers, the home front to the front line, the Women’s Land Army to the Nursing Yeomanry to the Munitionettes. From inventors to industrialists to factory workers.

You’ll uncover a wealth of material that will lead you to create a short story… perhaps the first of many.

Led by Bridging Arts
Booking essential 10 places only

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

If This Is A Man

A unique event at the Southbank this Sunday: a live five-hour reading to mark the 70th anniversary of the publication of Primo Levi's book If This Is A Man - an account of Levi's survival at Auschwitz.
A.L. Kennedy and Philippe Sands lead the reading - Kemal Pervanic, who worked with us on our early projects at Bridging Arts, will be participating.
His film Pretty Village is an amazing piece of work.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Creating historical costume from old photographs

The next lunchtime talk at the Royal Cornwall Museum during Heart of Conflict (our exhibition on Cornwall during World War One) will throw a spotlight on clothing worn then.
Curator Sarah Lloyd-Durrant will be on hand to show you photographs of women from the first world war, alongside freelance costume maker Lorna Kinsey-Jones who will talk about how she made replica costume using the Museum's photographic collection as evidence.
Two costumes made by Lorna are on show at the exhibition which is at the Royal Cornwall Museum until the end of June.
Places are limited for this talk: please reserve your place by clicking here.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Bayonets during World War One

Fascinating post on the Royal Cornwall Museum blog on the use of bayonets in World War One.
Our exhibition Heart of Conflict - throwing a spotlight on Cornwall during 1914-18 - is on display at the Museum until 30 June 2017.

Click here to read more....

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Not for the faint hearted: medical care and nursing in World War One

We've been getting ready for a talk next week at the Royal Cornwall Museum, Truro, on medical care and nursing in World War One, led and inspired by our volunteer Valerie Grigg who has contributed such a lot to our exhibition on Cornwall during the war years.

Heart of Conflict throws a spotlight on life in the county between 1914-18: Valerie, a nurse herself, has had an interest in medical care at the time since she started researching her grandfather's war record many years ago.

We'll be throwing a spotlight on several stories in the collection: the men from Dolcoath mine who became stretcher bearers in the Royal Army Medical Corps, Lillie Uren who met her future husband during First Aid training and a hospital for officers in a large house near Redruth.
To book a place, click here.

Kate Keara Pelen and a constellation of badges

Great to see Kate Keara Pelen last night at the opening of her show near Waterloo: hadn't seen her for far too long - seven years ago when she was showing with Lorenzo Belenguer at the Gallery in Willesden Green.
She's been working again with textiles - this time at the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing at King's College London and created an installation of 100 nursing badges spanning more than a century.
Each is embellished - perhaps with suture threads, fragments of cloth, wool - or decommissioned uniforms. There's a sound track with interviews to accompany the piece - hard to hear last night in the buzz of the busy opening!
But to find out more about Kate's thoughts about the piece - click here.
We've been thinking about nursing in World War One in particular ahead of next week's talk at the Royal Cornwall Museum, Truro. Part of our Heart of Conflict exhibition on Cornwall during the war years.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Hearing loss conference in London

Resultado de imagen de deafOur hard-working volunteer Katrina Williams has let me know about an important conference on 6 May in central London focussing on hearing loss and related issues.

Katrina takes a particular interest in the subject and last year travelled to Paris to attend a conference on this subject; she's found that there's always something new and interesting to discover.

Here are the details about the event in May: Katrina will be attending.

It's organised by the National Association of Deafened People (NDAP) and Europe Federation of Hard of Hearing People (EFHOH) and will be held at Friends House, Friends House, 173-177 Euston Road, London, NW1 2BJ.

Confirmed speakers include Penny Mordaunt MP ( UK Minister for Disabled People), Dr. Laszlo Lovaszy (Expert at the UN CRPD Committee and EU Parliament Advisor), Lilian Greenwood (MP for Nottingham South), Søren Hougaard (Secretary General of the European Hearing Instrument Manufacturers Association), Mark Laureyns (President of the European Association of Hearing Care Professionals), Gareth Ford – Williams (Head of Accessibility, BBC Design and Engineering), Sarah Herlinger (Apple) and David Bradshaw (DTG).

Tickets can be bought at
Katrina (far right) taking a group of keen embroiderers to the V&A Museum recently

Friday, 24 March 2017

Paintings of WW1 aerial battles

A glimpse of World War One in Italy at the Estorick Collection (in north London) - the exhibition has just closed but was a great introduction to the paintings of Sydney Carline in particular. Carline (1888-1929) based his drawings and paintings of aerial battles on his own experience as a fighter pilot. Later he was engaged by the government as a war artist.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

World War One bottles in Israel

An amazing find by Israeli archaeologists excavating near Ramla - hundreds of gin, wine, beer and other bottles left by British troops in World War One. Troops were camping in the area during a  mission to capture Jerusalem by Christmas 1917.
British troops march into the city in early December 1917