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Monthly Archives: September 2012

Face on No.2

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The other day I was making baked sweet potatoes and saw this little guy;

At first I thought it was an owl, but then I thought it sort of looked like a Ninja! I wonder if a vegan would eat a potato with the face of an owl on it?


Fears,Foes & Faeries

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I recently went on holiday to Yorkshire and had seen an exhibition advertised at Scarborough Art Gallery called Fears, Foes & Faeries that I though was worth a trip to see. Based around a collection from the early 1900’s belonging to a man called William James Clarke, the exhibition focused on superstition and folk-lore and the amulets and charms that people believed would heal them or keep them safe. As Scarborough is on the coast, there were many items related to keeping sailors and fishermen safe at sea and the superstitions that prevented them going to sea. For example, if a sailor met a pig on his way to the boat, this was seen as a bad omen and he would not sail! However, nailing the skin of a kingfisher to the mast would bring a good catch of fish and owning a feather would protect you from getting struck by lightning!

There was also an interesting room about witches with example of ways to banish witches and expose them. One of these examples was this chair that suspected witches would be tied to. I think this one would have just been used for questioning rather than dunking in the river (One way to tell if a suspect was a witch was to dunk them in the river, if they floated they were a witch if they didn’t they were innocent) I thought this was a really cleaver bit of the exhibition and something that I have never seen before (and hope I don’t again!) because it frightened me half to death! The chair was on a wide sort of podium, and the shadow stretched out to the side, when I looked closer at the shadow, this is what I saw:

Yes, there is the shadow of a person sat on the chair, but no person actually sat on the chair! Creepy! This room also looked into the superstitions about faeries, and they weren’t very good. In the past, there were many types of faeries, some were good and would do odd jobs around the house for you if they were left some treats to eat. Others were bad and it was said that a faery could come in the night and steal your baby and swap it for a faery. To prevent this mothers would make a mobile to hang over the baby’s cot to ward away the bad faeries. Trouble was, they were made out of steel knives and to work effectively, the tip of the knife had to be pointing downwards towards the cot. Not sure if I would try that one myself!

There was also a room about charms and medicines to cure illness. Some I think actually could have worked (such as carrying copper to ward off arthritis) others would have not (like wearing a necklace made of acorns to cure diarrhoea!) I suppose at this time, new medicines were being discovered but people didn’t trust them as they had little understanding of the human body. The guide-book also said that people would often hedge their bets and visit a doctor, apothecary and a wise women making it hard to know which remedy would have really made them better.

I really enjoyed this exhibition and I think it’s a good example of how collections can be made accessible and brought to life with good interpretation and exhibition design. There were many interactive elements for children (and adults!) and information that explained the objects, their origins and why people believed in them. It’s on until the 30th September, so there is still a little time left to see it for yourselves!

Face On

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I have decided to start a new weekly post of things that shouldn’t have a face on them but do. This is probably because I have spent too much time with my gran who can see a face in everything (carpets, curtains, trees, the sky, pictures in her calendar!)  So here’s the first one.

It’s a latte that seems to be eyeing up my biscuits! (Get your own biscuits latte!)