Friday, 25 May 2018

Visit to Hayle Heritage Centre

Very nice to visit Hayle Heritage Centre today and meet Daisy Culmer who runs it. We're hoping to link up with the Centre during Heroes of Hayle, our World War One project in the town. This is part of Heart of Conflict. (Our first event will be a talk by local historian Peter Channon on the National Explosives Factory on Upton Dunes - more here.)
I'd driven past the Heritage Centre so many times and never really looked at it closely until today. There's huge potential inside, lovely light rooms and hopefully we will be able to hold a talk or reading there this autumn.

We're in search of an experienced photographer...

We're just advertising on Volunteer Cornwall for an experienced photographer to work with us on our fantastic new project with Camborne Youth Band. This year - the 100th anniversary of World War One - Camborne Youth Band is travelling out to France and the Menin Gate in the footsteps of Cornishmen who went out there a century ago. We're staging an exhibition at Heartlands, Pool, about this in October and November.

Before we go, we're in search of a photographer who'll help us create images for the exhibition and take pictures locally of significant people and places. We are looking for someone with a keen sense
of history - and an eye for a great image. Most of the work will be in June and July in the Camborne/Redruth area. We can provide reasonable travel expenses. If interested please email

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Sequins, decoupage and PVA glue at the Masbro Centre

A great workshop today with the Elders' Group at the Masbro Centre, Hammermith, London. This followed on from our visit to the Wallace Collection last month when we created boxes from gold cardboard.
This time, led by Bridging Arts volunteer Katrina Williams, the group created decoupage wooden boxes.  The results were stunning.

Monday, 21 May 2018

Cornish stained glass - an untold story

An interesting lecture at Paul Church, near Mousehole, Cornwall, on Tuesday 29 May at 730pm.
Stained glass expert Michael Swift will be telling the story of the newly restored window there which tells a remarkable World War One story. Michael's talk - 'The Bolitho windows in Cornwall and Devon, an untold story' will look at another memorial window at Leusdon in Devon - and ....the 'untold story':
 "the recovery of the design cartoon of the Leusdon window (in Paul) in a boiler room of the British Legion in Mousehole, and the possibility of the involvement of Thomas Cooper Gotch, the Newlyn painter."
Great art and a detective story - a winning formula.  Entrance £5 includes a drink and snack supper.

Friday, 18 May 2018

Walk and talk on National Explosives Factory

First up in our events around Hayle's World War One heritage - a talk and walk by local historian Peter Channon exploring the National Explosives Factory, Hayle.  Both are free and open to all. Please do come along.

The factory was one of the most important in the country during World War One. Before the conflict, it had produced explosives for the mining industry, but switched to military production after 1914.  To view a photogallery of the site (which covers many acres of sand dunes), click here.

Peter will give a talk with background to the factory at 7pm on Thursday 14 June 2018 at Phillack Church Hall - then lead a walk around the dunes on 27 June 2018.

Talk: Thursday 14 June 7pm
Phillack Church Hall TR27 4EB

Walk: Wednesday 27 June 7pm
Upton Towans (meet by Factory Chimney)
This is part of Heroes of Hayle, marking the centenary of World War One in the town. For more details, click hereHeroes of Hayle is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

New Trustee at Bridging Arts

We're delighted to welcome Liz Hutchinson, Director of Communications at the British Academy, as a Trustee of Bridging Arts.

Liz has led marketing and communications for a number of organisations in the public and charitable sectors.will bring her expertise in communications - particularly new media - to the board.

"This is a fantastic charity which has made a real difference to the communities within which it has worked," she says. "I'm delighted to have the opportunity to play my part in building the Charity's reach and impact further. There is huge potential here and I'm looking forward to working with Susan and my fellow trustees to realise it."

For information about other members of the Bridging Arts board, click here.

Workshop at the Masbro Centre next week

We're looking forward to a workshop at the Masbro Centre, Hammersmith next week - following up on our visit to the Wallace Collection last month. We visited the collection with the Masbro Centre's Elders' group and made some fabulous gold cardboard boxes.
This Tuesday 22 May we'll be returning to Hammersmith to make some more boxes - this time wooden.  Bridging Arts volunteer Katrina Williams and I primed them this week .....

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

A great meeting with Hayle Air Cadets

Had a really good meeting with Hayle Air Cadets last Friday (11 May 2018) as part of our World War One project Heart of Conflict - what a great group of young people. We talked about World War One in general - and then looked at the story of Frank Johns, a carpenter from St Ives who had emigrated to Canada a few years before the war broke out and signed up when there. He was killed on the Western Front in 1915.

I was really impressed by Jo Roach who brought his photos that he had taken a couple of years ago when visiting the WW1 battlefields with his school Humphry Davey in Penzance. He stood up and showed the group - and explained something to me that I didn't know: that when two gravestones are very close together in a Commonwealth War Graves cemetery it means that two bodies had fallen together and they were not quite sure which was which when they erected the headstones.
We are working with the Air Cadets to produce poetry and other work to read at Remembrance Day services this year. It's part of our project, Heroes of Hayle. 

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Discussions at the Imperial War Museum

Good to touch base with other people working on World War One related projects at the Imperial War Museum today. This was part of the Museum's partnership of organisations marking the centenary years.

Here Barbara Hoefling, Director of the German Choir in London, talks about the Choir's WW1 Peacemaker series of concerts touring cathedrals and churches in the UK and Belgium - music celebrating those on both sides who tried to prevent or shorten the conflict.

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Watercolours of the trenches

All of the photography from World War One (as far as I know) is in black and white - and it is hard to imagine the horror of the trenches in colour.  That's why the colourised photo of Redruth Wesleyan Young Men's Bible class was so striking - click here to view.
These fantastically skilled watercolours by John Singer Sargent bring colour from 1918. A wrecked tank.....

 and tarpaulin over a dug out....
Both these paintings date from1918. The dug out was at Ronsart, in Pas-de-Calais, France - about 11 kilometres from Arras.

Saturday, 12 May 2018

History coming alive at Camborne RFC

Fantastic today to see Camborne RFC president Terry Williams present a rugby ball signed by Cornwall and Devon teams to Camborne Youth Band.
The Band will take it back to the Western Front 100 years after three historic matches were played there between Cornwall and Devon teams after Camborne Rugby Club sent out a ball.
Corey Williams (pictured) right is in the Band now and is the great great grandson of Fred Negus, one of the men who played in 1915.
The Youth Band will be travelling to France and Belgium in August and will take the rugby ball back to Estaires, where Cornishmen from Dolcoath Mine were stationed.
Cornwall were playing Devon today at Camborne. The match was close - but Devon pulled off a 20-19 point victory.

Friday, 11 May 2018

Cornwall and Devon teams to sign historic rugby ball tomorrow

Really looking forward to the rugby tomorrow at Camborne: Cornwall will be playing Devon and Camborne Youth Band will be playing before the match and at half time.  (Kick off: 3pm -  band playing from 215pm).

Both teams are signing a rugby ball (donated by Camborne RFC) on Saturday to be sent out to Estaires in northern France to commemorate the end of World War One.

In 1915, Camborne RFC sent out a ball to local miners who had joined the 25th Field Ambulance when WW1 broke out - and the men subsequently organised three matches between Cornish and Devon men at the Front.  

Camborne Youth Band are going to take the rugby ball out to France in August.

The great great grandson of one of the men who was in the 1915 team in France is in the Youth Band. Corey Williams has his great great grandfather's bugle and Corey is going to play it in France.

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Heart of Conflict gets another outing

It was great to see our World War One exhibition, Heart of Conflict, on display again at Paul Church, near Mousehole, Cornwall.  The display marked the re-dedication of the remarkable World War One window there. There were events and services over the May Bank Holiday weekend to celebrate and showcase all the work that's been done.

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Talks, a walk and workshops at Hayle

Just finalised - all the dates and times or our events in Hayle, Cornwall.
Heroes of Hayle: World War One stories from home and the Western Front will look at various aspects of life in the town during 1914-18. Local historians will be leading talks and a walk - and acclaimed local author Jenny Alexander will be leading poetry workshops in September and October - to create work to be read at Remembrance Day services in November. All events are free.

Thursday 14 June - Phillack Church Hall - 7pm
- a talk on the National Explosives Factory on Hayle Towans by local historian Peter Channon.
Wednesday 27 June - Upton Towns - 7pm
- a visit to the site of the National Explosives Factory on Hayle Towans led by Peter Channon

Wednesday 4 July - Phillack Church - 7pm
- a talk by local historian Chris Berry on the war graves at the church - including those of two young women who died at an explosion at the National Explosives Factory

Thursday 19 July - Passmore Edwards Hall - 7pm for 730pm
- a talk by WW1 expert Robert Johns on the 251st Tunnelling Company formed in Hayle
A free glass of wine (or non-alcoholic drink) will be offered and a chance to meet others attending

Saturday 8 September - Phillack Church - 1030am-4pm
- poetry workshop by acclaimed local author Jenny Alexander inspired by local war graves. Phillack Church is on the edge of the dunes and there will be an hour-long lunchbreak when you can take a walk along them.

Saturday 22 September - Phillack Church Hall - 1030am-4pm
- poetry workshop by Jenny Alexander inspired by the National Explosives Factory

Saturday 6 October - Phillack Church Hall - 1030am-4om
- poetry workshops by Jenny Alexander inspired by the 251st Tunnelling Company

Please do get in touch if you would like to know more. Anyone is very welcome to take part in all – or just one part – of this project.  You don’t have to be an experienced poet at all. Beginners are very welcome. You will be surprised at what you will write under Jenny Alexander’s expert guidance.

There’s no need to book for the talks but, for the workshops, numbers are limited so booking is essential. Contact to book your place on whichever workshop days you would like to attend.

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Camborne Youth Band and a Video Trivia Night

Camborne Youth Band is still fundraising like mad for their trip to the Menin Gate and northern France in August. We've been working with them on this. The great great grandson of Fred Negus -one of the Cornishmen featured in Heart of Conflict - is in the Youth Band, and we're planning to travel back to Estaires (near the Front Line in World War One) where Fred was based. All very exciting - but funds are needed to make this happen.
I won't be able to answer many of the questions in this Video Trivia Night at the Sportsmans Arms, Four Lanes, near Redruth in Cornwall - but it sounds fun.

Saturday, 21 April 2018

The constant mediation of the lens

Struck by something that I jotted down from the London Review of Books, talking about the instrusion of images - so many images everywhere, do we really see anything?
Julian Stallabrass wrote this ages ago (in June 2014) in an article 'On Selfies'.
It seems pretty true to me.
 "The constant mediation of the lens is disrupting experience and  memory. Photography, unthinkingly and endlessly made and shared, pollutes awareness and the real world and suppresses memory of anything other than the moment when the image is captured."

Friday, 20 April 2018

Brigadier General Sir John Gough and the 25th Field Ambulance

In February 1915, the Cornish miners in the 25th Field Ambulance were involved in a tragedy that touched the very top of military command.
Towards the end of the month a freak accident occurred which resulted in the death of Brigadier General Sir John Gough, one of the most prominent figures in the army. He was visiting a trench near Estaires on 20 February 1915 when a bullet ricocheted off a wall and hit him in the stomach. Despite the efforts of a prominent surgeon, he died two days later.
He was buried in Estaires cemetery and the Field Ambulance lined the route.
We found his gravestone in Estaires cemetery on our recent visit. 

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Fresh light on an old window in Paul

Great to see the amazing World War 1 window at Paul Church restored. It had looked impressive enough before - but the new work has revealed so many details. Here are just a few.
It's frustratingly difficult to take photos of the window as so much light streams through it now! Even more reason to go and visit.
The Church is celebrating the restoration with a weekend of activities over the first Bank Holiday in May.
Robert Anning Bell, the Arts and Crafts movement artist, designed this window, honouring local man Lieutenant William Torquil Macleod Bolitho who was killed on 24 May 1915 during the Second Battle of Ypres.   Click here to read more about Paul Church's extremely hard work to get this restoration funded and completed.

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Coffee companions

What a brilliant new idea.
Coffee Companions aims to bring together people who just want to have a chat over a cup of coffee. Various cafes around the country have signed up. You need to go to the Coffee Companions website to find one near you - then when you go there, you ask for a 'coffee mat'.
You sit at your table with your mat - and someone knows that you'd like a chat. Or presumably if you spot someone without a mat, you can sit down and make friends with them.
The whole idea of this is to break people out of either self-inflicted isolation (obsessions with phones etc) or to give lonely people the chance for some social contact.
Very many older people can spend an entire day without speaking to anyone.
 As Coffee Companions website says:
"Coffee Companions is for anyone, anywhere. Putting the paper down, turning off the phone, just having a chat with their coffee and knowing they aren't intruding - using one of our chat mats is easier than mind reading."
They're just starting off so there aren't many cafes signed up as yet.
But I see that the Cafe at Waitrose in Truro has - so I might just try it.  I really hope that this works, as it has such potential.

Friday, 13 April 2018

Redruth Young Men's Bible Class - in colour

It's amazing how colourised old photos can make the past come alive.
The Cornish Studies Library in Redruth is currently showing an exhibition of tinted old photos, including this one of Redruth Young Men's Bible Class on a pre-World War One outing.

It made me think of Henry Cobb's colour photographs of Warsaw after World War Two - though amazingly these weren't colourised but taken on early colour film.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Flowerpickers and a receipt

The daffodil picking in the fields near my house is finished now - but I did find a piece of paper by my gate in the mud. As I wrote a couple of weeks ago,  we know very little more about the lives of migrant workers than ten years ago when we launched our project I Packed This Myself - with the aim of bringing migrant workers and local communities together.

The paper was a receipt from Lidl, Penzance, and had been dropped by a worker leaving a car near my gate. Whoever this was had certainly not been wasting money on fine living. Vegetable fat spread,  A bottle of cider, then a diet of noodle soup, white bread and orange juice.

Not a healthy diet at the best of times - and particularly not when working long days in the freezing cold.

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Making gold boxes at the Wallace Collection

Gold boxes at the Wallace Collection

Boxes made by the group
A wonderful visit this afternoon to the Wallace Collection in London with the Elders' group from the Masbro Centre, Hammersmith. We visited the museum's dazzling collection of furniture, paintings, mirrors and china... not to mention the armoury.
We were all very inspired to create our own gold boxes at the end in the Education Centre. Here are a selection. (We'll be following this up with a box decoration workshop back in Hammersmith in May. We love working with the Elders' group - most recently on embroidery).
Our last museum visit was to the V&A - click here to read more.

Estaires looks at WW1 destruction

An interesting talk in Estaires, northern France, on the destruction at the end of World War One. The town, very close to the Front Line, was occupied by the Allies for most of the war, but fell to the Germans in April 1918 - just seven months before the Armistice.

These postcards show the extent of the destruction in the town. Estaires has a special resonance for Cornwall as many Cornish miners were stationed in the town at the start of the War. Camborne Youth Band is planning to visit Estaires in August before playing at the Menin Gate. 

A visit to Estaires

We were so pleased to visit Estaires, France, the other day to talk to Pascale Algoet, the deputy mayor, and Regine Henneon of the town's historical society.  As part of Heart of Conflict and the centenary of World War One, we're working with Camborne Youth Band on an extraordinary trip planned for later in the year to the Menin Gate and Estaires.
Estaires has a special resonance for the Camborne/Redruth area as many Cornishmen were stationed there in World War One.  At the outbreak of war in 1914, many miners from Dolcoath's St John's Ambulance team joined the Royal Army Medical Corps went out to the Front, led by local doctor Captain William Blackwood. Descendants of these men still live in Camborne and Redruth, including  Chris Negus, the grandson of Fred Negus.
The group sailed from Southampton to Le Havre, then travelled straight to Estaires where they were stationed for more than a year.
Amazingly - Corey Williams, the great great grandson of Fred Negus, is now in Camborne Youth Band.The plan is to travel back to Estaires 100 years on from the War and once again play the bugle in the town.
We've been discussing plans with Pascale and Regine.
Here Pascale takes us on a tour of Estaires Town Hall's very impressive Bell Tower.

Hopefully the Band will be able to visit the Bell Tower - at the moment they are very busy fundraising for the trip.

Monday, 9 April 2018

Daffodils, embroidery and a trip to the Wallace Collection

A bleak rainy morning - but daffodils as ever lift the spirits, here at Hyde Park Corner.

They remind me of the wonderful daffodils in our Stitch project by Chhaya Biswas. Chhaya was a member of the Restart 50+ group in Tooting, London, who all embroidered very imaginative swatches. Chhaya chose daffodils, as they were her favourite flower. She had grown up in Bangladesh and studied William Wordsworth's famous poem about daffodils as a young girl.

She loved the poem, but had never seen a daffodil until she arrived in London at the age of 18 and saw daffodils in bloom on Wandsworth Common.

This amazing piece of work went on display at various venues around London. 

We're about to do some more work with the embroiderers at the Masbro Centre, Hammersmith - actually not embroidery this time but an exciting new venture. Tomorrow we're off to the Wallace Collection, London, to decorate boxes inspired by their collection of fabulous artefacts.  Will report back.