Wonderful Work Placement! Thoughts from a Post Grad Student

Carla Loyola Cruz

Studying Cultural Heritage Management is definitely one of the most rewarding fields to study; not everyone is able to learn how heritage, museums, galleries are managed and, most importantly, how important it is to create a bond between them and society. Since I started this MA at the University of York it has granted me new knowledge regarding heritage and collections management, and, through the writing of essays and heritage plans I have been able to put this newly gained knowledge into use. However, although this was rewarding, the actual experience of working within a heritage space was missing.

That’s why I was very thankful and excited to find a placement with Haworth Art Gallery during the Easter holidays. At first I hesitated a bit due to the fact that I would have to travel every day from York to Accrington, but now I can say all those early mornings have been completely worth it! This has been one of the most rewarding and amazing experiences I’ve had since I started the MA.

My first impression of the building was simply WOOW, and that was just by looking at it on the website; of course it didn’t disappoint once I was actually on site. The gallery is based in an astonishing old English house located at the top of a hill, surrounded by a lovely park which grants you a fantastic outdoorsy environment and landscape. However, all these outdoors settings have nothing compared to what is awaiting you inside of the house. The whole gallery is filled with gorgeous paintings and various objects created by local artists, which really gives you a glimpse into Accrington’s history; not to mentioned the Tiffany glass collection which is classified as an international collection.

One of my first jobs here was the inventory and re-packing of the ceramic and glass objects in one of the stores. Thanks to this now I have more experience in how objects are classified and stored, not to mention that I have discovered so many really amazing objects in there and I have had the opportunity to look at them up-close.

Another task I have been able to perform, and definitely one of my favourites, was learning how paintings of different sizes are stored onto racks. We were able to re-hang eight paintings in the store, where, again, I got to see up-close very nice art pieces created by local artists and experience being on the inside of an actual object store in a gallery.

Furthermore, I was invited to attend to a planning meeting, where some future exhibitions and workshops were discussed. It was very interesting to see how these matters are planned and how much work, collaboration with other fields and planning is done behind the scenes. Even as a student in this subject, it is hard to realise sometimes all the work involved to bring an exhibition to life.

Overall, this placement has been a one-time life experience. I can truly say my knowledge in the field has increased, I now realise that working in a place like this is way more complex and time consuming than it seems. Being able to work close up with the collections and handle heritage pieces, discover all kinds of interesting objects, and work side by side with the managers of the gallery has given me the opportunity to actually put my MA knowledge into practice. Thanks to Haworth Art Gallery, I now feel more prepared to start a career in the heritage sector.

Haworth Art Gallery is one of the most interesting galleries I have been to, it highlights the importance of Accrington’s history and roots. Not to mention that the management team have some great ideas to integrate and make visitors interact more with the collections. Thanks to this placement I feel very happy and honoured to say I was able to work at, and be part of, this gallery.

The only thing I have left to say is thank you, thank you Alison and Gillian for accepting and guiding me through this placement; you have made me feel very welcome. Thanks to all the staff members and volunteers, I have truly enjoyed my time working alongside you, as well as all those chats and brews! I am really looking forward to coming back once the gallery is back open!

Carla Loyola Cruz

Treasures from the Attic

Jean Emmott with a blue & gold satsuma vase

Friends group members, volunteers and gallery staff have been busy over the past few months, (Covid restrictions allowing), uncovering treasures from within the darkest recesses of the Haworth Art Gallery store rooms and archives.

Harry Emmett taking a shot of a Japanese Vase with a Doulton Vase in the foreground

 

Last week’s finds included some beautiful ornamental vases, some gilded in gold or glazed in vibrant colours, some depicting fearsome characters, were brought down from safe storage in the attic along with  incense burners and other exquisitely crafted pieces.

Alison Iddon with a white and gold Dresden Plate

 

Friends group members Jean and Harry Emmett in particular have recently played a part in supporting staff in finding, identifying and recording artefacts that make up part of the bequest left to the people of Accrington by sister and brother, Anne and William Haworth.  Jean and Harry were among a number of the Friends group who have received object handling training by Deputy Manager and Curator, Alison Iddon, enabling them to safely unpack and record details of the objects, as well as take a few photographic shots.

Part of the work being undertaken as regards these buried treasures is to decide which of these pieces we can display in the upcoming centenary exhibition due to start in July later this year.  There are so many beautiful artefacts that the gallery simply does not have the space to display all of them all of the time, along with it’s collection of Tiffany Glass and popular temporary exhibitions.

 

Some of the more unusual objects include an ivory figurine of a snake charmer and an ivory calling card holder.  Obviously these days we are more enlightened as regards ivory, but it was often used for decorative purposes in previous centuries. Thankfully, the trade in ivory is now banned worldwide and only items dated before 1947 can be displayed and traded.  The items pictured here were acquired by the Haworths sometime in the late 1890s – early 1900s and we show them here as pieces of historical interest and an insight into the culture of our past.

Snake Charmer ivory figurine
Intricately carved ivory Calling Card Holder

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Friends look forward to greeting visitors old and new to the exhibition in July, if lifting of restrictions go ahead as planned.  Let’s keep everything crossed!

 

 

Elves have left the building!!

Elf Liz and visitors to see Santa

What is normally an indoor event was held outdoors for the first time at the Haworth Art Gallery yesterday.

A ‘doorway grotto’ had been created for a socially distanced Santa and his Elves to welcome everyone who came to visit.  Children were able to talk to Santa  and take a present from the ‘Nice’ box if they said they’d been good.  Amazingly, all the children had been good this year, (what are the odds?) which is just as well, as the ‘Naughty’ box was empty!

There was a great turnout for the event with a grand total of 254 in attendance.  Thank you to everyone who came along braving the cold and creating a cheerful atmosphere, even in the long queue.

A big pat on the back to all the Gallery staff and Friends group members who organised and hosted the event and a special mention to Elf Liz, who spent the whole time outside entertaining children and their families while they were waiting their turn to see Santa.

On behalf of the Haworth Art Gallery, we would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas, even if it is a bit scaled down this year. Stay safe folks and all the best for the New Year.

 

Snowy Scenes!

Snowy scenes in the Haworth Art Gallery grounds this week.  I happened to walk past when Curator and Deputy Manager, Alison Iddon, was taking a few snaps on her phone from one of the upstairs windows.

Although the gallery is currently closed to the public due to Tier 3 restrictions, the shop is open Wednesday – Friday 12 – 4pm selling lots of beautiful gifts and cards.  The shop can be accessed via the main front door in the photo.  There is also a ‘phone and collect’ service, Tel. 01254 233782 mid-week.

 

The Haworth Park has remained open throughout the Covid pandemic and looks lovely whatever the season!  The picture below and the cover photo are courtesy of Harry Emmett.

Gallery and Kitchen temporarily closed during current lock-down

We are sad to announce that the Haworth Art Gallery and the Gallery Kitchen are temporarily closed during the current lockdown.  We await to hear further government guidance on re-opening.

However, the parkland surrounding the buildings remain open to the public and are are looking lovely in their autumnal colours.

 

A warm welcome – with a twist – awaits

Almost six months since Covid-19 forced the Haworth’s doors to close, they have at last been able to reopen to the public.  Today,  the gallery can once again welcome visitors inside its lovely old walls.

It’s a red letter day – and one which staff and volunteers have been keenly anticipating, working hard to accommodate visitors as safely as possible.

Yvonne Robins retired as Gallery Manager during lock-down. Yvonne oversaw the Haworth’s Stables Studios transformation and a large increase in the gallery’s visitor numbers.

Things will of course be slightly different – in more ways than one. During lock-down, the Haworth’s popular and long-serving Gallery Manager, Yvonne Robins, made the difficult decision to retire.

Yvonne made an enormous contribution to the gallery, overseeing the Stables Studios transformation, introducing the Haworth Artists’ Network, the free family workshop and Sunday concert programmes, and increasing visitor numbers and weddings at the Haworth.  Yvonne will be greatly missed – we all wish her the very best in her future life.

Meanwhile, Curator Gillian Berry and the rest of the Haworth team are delighted to be welcoming visitors back to the gallery – with a few small but important changes to visitor protocols.

The Haworth’s doors are once again open to visitors – we hope to see you soon!

Walk-in visits are welcome, but special precautionary measures are of course in place to ensure visitor safety.

A maximum of 20 visitors are allowed at any one time in the gallery space – excluding the Gallery Kitchen, which is also open to the public.

Gallery opening hours will be from Wednesday to Sunday, from 12 noon to 4pm. The Gallery Kitchen opens from 11.30am to 4.30pm, also from Wednesday to Sunday.

Visitors are asked to wear face masks and to follow the special signage and guidance. Hand sanitiser is provided and visitors are requested to use it on arrival.

Distancing is requested to the greatest extent possible between visitors.

Staff, volunteers and Friends all hope that visitors will be able to join us at the Haworth very soon – and enjoy the many delights of our loveliest of local attractions.

Welcome back!

Something different for Heritage Open Days?

With Hollins Hill, the Arts and Crafts house hosting the Haworth Art Gallery, being closed for this year’s Heritage Open Days, you may be interested in visiting an Arts & Crafts Movement church instead.

St Martin’s Church, Low Marple in north Cheshire will open for two days of Heritage Open Days.

Friday 18 September 2020, 14.00-18.00

Saturday 19 September 2020, 10.00-15.00

St.Martin’s Church, Brabyns Brow, Marple Bridge, Marple, Stockport SK6 5DT

Next to Marple Railway Station.

Covid-secure arrangements observed.

Saint Martin’s Church is a blend of early and high Arts & Crafts design. The main part of the church was built in 1870 while the The Lady Chapel and north aisle belong to the same Arts & Crafts period as Hollins Hill. The chapel even has a similar curved plaster ceiling, showing how different Arts and Crafts designers often worked in similar ways. The church contains art works by William Morris, Dante Gabrielle Rosetti, Sir Edward Burne-Jones, Ford Maddox Brown and Christopher Whall.

Spring has Sprung in Haworth Park

By Jean Emmett – A Walk in the Park

Walking through Haworth Park at the moment is delightful. The birds are singing their hearts out and they are very audible as there is little traffic noise and very few people in the park. I even saw a nuthatch in one of the trees. They are usually secretive and difficult to spot.  The trees are coming into leaf and there are spring flowers about. It’s good to take a moment to look and watch. Butterflies are fluttering around and even the squirrels are being more adventurous.

This week the gardeners have been busy taking out straggly bushes. I asked if they were planting more or maybe wild flowers, but the powers that be have decided to grass over where the bushes were. I suppose it’s easier for maintenance, but not as good for the soul!

It was interesting seeing the gardeners with a JCB trying to pull out the stumps. The driver couldn’t see where the stumps were for the bucket on the front of the digger. He was being instructed by another gardener – back a bit, forward a bit, down a bit, close the bucket, PULL. The stumps did come out eventually, but each took a while.

The gallery of course is closed, but it’s presence is felt as you walk round. Really can’t wait for it to open again. It is greatly missed.

I hope all the staff are staying well. Look forward to seeing them all again when this covid crisis is over.

Jean Emmett

Haworth centenary: what’s in store?

The Haworth’s centenary as Accrington’s art gallery – the jewel in the town – is just around the corner. The fascinating photograph above was taken in 1921, the year the building was opened to the public. What a decorous entourage assembled for the occasion!

“This can’t last. This misery can’t last.” Laura Jesson, Brief Encounter.

As the Haworth staff and Friends volunteers prepare to mark the 100th anniversary (watch this space!), we’ve been hard at work documenting the gallery’s two major artwork stores, uncovering and preserving important artefacts in the permanent collection, many of which will help shape the event.

Our featured photograph was among the hundreds of items in the building’s watercolour store, work on which has been ongoing for the past year, documenting and assessing the condition of each item.

Among the many lovely discoveries were several sheet music albums belonging to William and Anne Haworth. At least one album, bearing William’s monogram and the date 1902, pre-dates the era when the Haworths lived in the house, then known as Hollins Hill.  Friends’ member Frances Prince, leader of the Red Rose Singers, is cataloguing this music, with plans for the group to perform some of it in the 2021 anniversary celebrations. The centenary exhibition will chart the story of the house and celebrate the people who lived and worked here from 1909 to 1920.

Mayoral insignia from the inception of Accrington Corporation, showing the lovely Town and Market Halls.

In addition to all the fantastic photographs and artwork, the store holds a variety of paper-based works, including cartoons, architectural drawings and copies of the documents and correspondence relating to the building of the house,

Among them was this illuminated manuscript (left), recording the bestowal of the mayoral insignia at the first meeting of the newly formed Accrington Corporation in 1878.

Also in this store is the original photograph album of the house from 1921, after Anne died and bequeathed the house to the Corporation. It shows the rooms and furnishings as they were when the house was her home. A copy of the album, sponsored by the Friends, is available at the Haworth reception desk for all visitors to see. Make sure to have a look on your next visit.

A romantic pen and ink sketch (above right) from the watercolour store suggests a Brief Encounter moment; a bittersweet image of an Edwardian-era couple, parting ways as his train prepares to leave. Also in this collection is a photographic portrait of Joseph Briggs (below right), who donated the vast majority of the Haworth’s Tiffany collection to his hometown.

Joseph Briggs, the local lad who became MD of Tiffany Studios and gifted his town the largest Tiffany collection outside the US.

In the early days of 2020, gallery staff, aided by eight volunteers, emptied the gallery’s oil store. Tasked with documenting and assessing the gallery’s more physically substantial works and re-hanging them in a more accessible order – we recorded each painting’s position in the store for ease of management.

Next on our list is documenting the Haworth’s extensive collection of art books, detailing works from Goya to Rembrandt and beyond.

Many of the works in these two stores will inform and illustrate the forthcoming anniversary exhibition, which will be a significant feature of the Haworth’s programme of events next year.

Looking ahead to 2021 has become a luminous objective. We very much hope to see you all there.

*If you’d like to help us realise any of our projects, or perhaps have information about any aspect of the gallery or its heritage – no matter how small – please don’t hesitate to contact us at haworthaccrington@gmail.com.

The Victorian House of Arts and Crafts

Nothing to do while staying indoors or self isolating?

Why not put your feet up and enjoy this series where modern crafts people go back in time to live the life and reproduce the work of the Arts and Crafts pioneers. Click here. It’s laid back and very enjoyable.

The Arts and Crafts house where the action takes place is a relatively late example built in the early 1920s. You can see clear similarities with our Hollins Hill, aka Haworth Art Gallery in the images above.

The house is Wyndcliffe Court, which lies half a mile north of the village of St. Arvans, Monmouthshire, Wales. It is listed Grade II* and was completed in 1922