ARTS, CRAFTS AND NEW EXPERIENCES AT IRONBRIDGE
By Ann Evans
Great events you won’t want to miss at the Ironbridge Museums, Ann Evans highlights a few.
Visiting Ironbridge in Telford, Shropshire, at any time of the year is a fascinating experience. There’s so much to see, do and learn that it’s an ideal spot that all the family will enjoy. There’s nature trails and country walks, woodlands to explore and history to uncover. And of course, ten amazing museums including Blists Hill Victorian Town, where you can experience what life was like during the Industrial Revolution.
Here’s just some of the exhibitions and workshops. Check the website for full details of costs and times: www.ironbridge.org.uk
A touring exhibition: The First Casualty of War is Truth has opened at the Jackfield Tile Museum and runs until 2nd December. Marking the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, this exhibition forms part of Shropshire’s programme of commemorative events to honour and remember the lives of those who served in and were affected by the War. The exhibition has been funded by Shropshire Council.
Shropshire artists Julie Edwards, Jill Impey, Jacqui Dodds, Elizabeth Turner and Keith Ashford have created this exhibition to examine how the First World War was and still is represented in the media. The artworks aim to expose truths obscured by time, loss and misinformation and respond to the notion ‘The first casualty of war is truth’.
Jill Impey’s installation, ‘No trees were harmed in the making of this lie’, uses the metaphor of trees as both witnesses and participants. Trees can outlive humans and their squabbles over land and power but have also been made into ships of war. Cut sections of trees show a timeline of British conflicts since WW1 – the war to end all wars? A recording of today’s young people singing ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’ by Wilfred Owen brings the piece into the present.
Inspired by a visit to the Tower of London poppies art installation, and the poem ‘Lost in France’ by Ernest Rhys, Jacqui Dodds has approached the theme of ‘The First Casualty of War is Truth’ in an abstract way. ‘Truth’, as what people hold to be true in their lives, is disrupted by war, some can be regained, some is lost forever with those who did not return.
Keith Ashford has chosen to reinvent a flying model of a WW1 aeroplane from his youth. In ‘Escape Velocity’ a fragile balsa and tissue plane has turned into an essentially ephemeral representation made from porcelain. These delicate gliders only have one chance at a successful flight, and are destroyed on landing, a fitting symbol for the young pilots who after just 15 hours of training, often only survived days on the front line.
Personal loss of loved ones is the theme for Julie Edwards ‘Ours’. Based on family mementos from WW1, including medals, photographs and drawings, the tragedy of loss in just one family symbolises the effect on families across the world.
The title of ‘BoG Standard’ by Elizabeth Turner refers to precision engineering; instruments were calibrated to ‘BoG’ (British or German) Standard. The death rate in the trenches in WW1 is often referred to as on an industrial scale. In 1917 at Passchendaele, for each individual death only two inches of ground was re-taken by the allies, and the cast iron sculpture includes soil as a reminder of that statistic.
Also, at the Jackfield Tile Museum Christmas tile decorating workshops take place on Saturdays 8th and 15th December. Join in and try the fun tube lining technique to produce your own ceramic masterpiece; you could make a collection of coasters or a tea pot stand – a perfect handmade gifts for friends or family. There are also Autumn tile decorating workshops during the half term holidays in November.
On Friday 2nd November and Friday 7th December it’s ‘Freeform Friday’ at the Jackfield Tile Museum where you can have a go at a variety of tile making and decorating technique including tube lining and encaustic tile making or create your own freeform tile or garland. For costs and to book a place at any of these workshops call 01952 884627 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
EXPERIENCE VISTORIAN LIFE
Over at Blists Hill Victorian Village, there’s a Family Fireworks Night on Saturday 3rd November from 6pm -9pm. As well as the spectacular family fireworks display on The Green, new this year will be a fiery performance in the Ironworks by Scarlet Butterfly. Watch and be amazed by fire eating, fire breathing and fire spinning – but don’t try this at home! Also see molten iron being poured into moulds during the dramatic iron casting demonstration in the Foundry.
At Blists Hill on the weekends of 8-9th and 15-16th December it’s the Victorian Christmas Weekends. Travel back over 100 years and experience the magic of a traditional Victorian Christmas. Watch as the townsfolk busily make preparations for Christmas, 1800s style, listen to brass bands, tour the town on a horse-drawn cart, watch falconry displays, meet Father Christmas and his reindeer and enjoy delicious festive food and drink. A friendly welcome awaits as you step into the shops and cosy cottages, where you will find some unusual Christmas gifts like traditionally made cast-iron paperweights and doorstops, hand printed gift wrap, traditional sweets and Victorian style Christmas cards.
Half term fun at Blists Hill includes ‘preparing for Autumn’ from Thursday 1st – Sunday 4th November. Follow a hedgehog trail around the Victorian town, then join the townsfolk in the woods and help build bug hotels to protect wildlife over the winter. Try candle dipping with autumnal colours, watch the Shadow Puppets Show, use collagraph printing to create an autumn scene and see how the Victorians prepare for autumn’s arrival. Check the website for more half-term activities across the Gorge.
At Enginuity on Thursday 1st and Friday 2nd November (half term) explore the frozen north at Polar explorers augmented reality experience. Immerse yourself in an augmented reality ‘Polar Explorers’ experience and see yourself surrounded by the amazing animals that live in our frozen North and South Poles on the giant screen. Join augmented reality penguins, orcas and polar bears beneath the spectacular Northern Lights. Throughout the half-term until 4 November join the drop-in Wild Weather themed workshops. The activities are part of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum’s ‘Create Nature’ themed workshops taking place across The Gorge during the school half-term holidays. Afterwards play with the huge interactive exhibits at Enginuity.
Not to be missed is the Gorgeous Christmas Craft and Food Fair which takes place on Saturday and Sunday 24th-25th November at Enginuity. Hosted in partnership with the Shropshire Guild of Contemporary Craft, Gorgeous will bring together an inspirational mix of some of the finest designer-makers in the region presenting a wealth of Christmas present ideas to suit all pockets. Over 40 stalls offering jewellery, glassware, ceramics, textiles, fine furniture, prints, metal work and more. You’ll also find tasty treats from some of the region’s best food providers to eat or take home.
At Coalbrookdale Gallery until Friday 21st December you can view ‘Schooling Good Taste – Coalbrook School of Art exhibition. View an exhibition about the Coalbrookdale School of Art where many of the artisans who worked in the various factories in the Ironbridge Gorge were once trained. Free admission.
Also, at Coalport China Museum from Thursday 1st – Sunday 4th November (half term) youngsters can enjoy Autumn Clay Crafts. Decorate ceramics with autumnal colours and scenes, while on Thursday you can also sculpt with air drying clay.
Visit the website for full details, prices, bookings and more, including information about Friends Talks on topics of interest. Or, if history and printing is your thing, you could book for the Victorian Printing Experience Day for adults at Blists Hill on Tuesday 11th December.
For full details of all these events and more call 01952 433 424 or visit www.ironbridge.org.uk