Monday, 27 June 2016

Panoramas and digs

Bates Panorama - Pavilion gardens and Broad Walk

The streets of Buxton 
and the layers of Under Whitle
public events in June

Buxton is a town of mixed architectures: from the spectacular Georgian sweep of the Crescent to the Victorian elegance of the Pavilion and the golden opulence Opera House. Our “Up your street” event for Buxton Museum and Art Gallery *, started with those wonders, added the intriguing Bates Panoramic Views of the town and then, inevitably dived off in other directions. We were looking at “where do you live, where might you live, where would you like to live” and that was us….the residents of, and visitors to, the noble town of Buxton have strong views about what makes for a rewarding home:
            gardens with rabbits (Harpurhill and Fairfield)
            resident ghosts
            haunted furniture
            a school for ghosts and witches (in Burbage)
            wizards towers
            a cosy home

Then a couple of weeks later (June 25th), we joined the Peeling Back The Layers crew at their open day at the Dove Valley Centre at Under Whitle. Here a community archaeology project has identified promising shapes under the ground (we’re back to palaces and castles, adding dungeons on the way). Other teams have plundered the Staffordshire Archives to uncover all sorts of intriguing information about the Horobins, the Mellors and all the other occupants of the farm from its first record in 1407.
cataloguing finds
But now the shovels are out….

We were there to explore possibilities – “what might be here”, and what might we find with pictures of medieval and later pieces from the Museum’s collection. There were exciting teams of professional and amateur archaeologists – we offered a place to pause, and talk and think and speculate…. Out of all the chat and thoughts and rumours, came a poem.

Under Whitle, digging
Digging and hoping,
Scraping, trowels,
Brushes and dreams
            If only, a dinosaur, or a duck, fossilised and thrilling,
Pieces, so many broken bits  
            How about a whole pot, a bottle that once did,
            could still, maybe, hold water from the spring on the hill
Something whole, anything whole
            A sword, a sword! Crusted with rust,
            A dream sunk deep in centuries of dirt
Sherds and bones
And broken glass

Pottery, fragments,
A hinge,
A tooth.

Abandoned homes
Discarded lives,
Thrown out,
So many broken pots,
So many leftover lives,
Quietly swamped by the grass tides
And the sea-sway and hiss of a meadow in the breeze.

Churning butter, and shaping and slapping and wrapping it cool into a butterbur leaf

*These events (or our attendance at the Under Whitle day)are part of a series supporting the Museum’s Collections in theLandscape project. This project is expanding public access to the Museum’s Collections both in the museum by redeveloping the Wonders of the Peak Gallery and through school and public activities and enabling access to the Collections through virtual resources

Summer events: there will be all sorts of activities at the Museum over the summer: events for families and children and a whole series of Meet the Expert talks at the Museum during the Buxton Festival - exploring all sorts of things from prehistoric Derbyshire to mermaids and Ashford Marble
Under Whitle in summer

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