All posts by danwilloughby

The Art & Science of Noticing

With major changes to the national curriculum due to commence this September, BMG’s Learning Team have been working hard to make sure our offer to schools is as relevant, inspiring and vibrant as ever.

As well as revising our existing offer we have added the brand new, child centred workshop, the Art & Science of Noticing. The facilitated session which is led by children’s curiosity will focus on how children respond and react to our collections and buildings at Cartwright Hall Art Gallery, Bradford Industrial Museum and Cliffe Castle Museum. The workshop can be used to support work with the 2014 national curriculum and is applicable for KS1,2 & 3 pupils. It is also adaptable for early year’s family groups, KS4/5 students and adults.

Pupils observing and recording objects at Cartwright Hall Art Gallery
Pupils observing and recording objects at Cartwright Hall Art Gallery

Successful trial sessions with various local schools including Thornbury, Hollingwood and Nessfield took place over the autumn term. For Thornbury Primary School’s session at Bradford Industrial Museum, the primary focus was on our fabulous transport gallery. Pupils made sketches and took their own notes about how favourite objects made them feel, and were encouraged to ask questions to find out more and share ideas between themselves. Back at school the pupils did further research to help them devise guided tours of the Industrial Museum incorporating their favourite objects. They then returned to deliver these tours to their parents.

Noticing and observing objects at Bradford Industrial Museum
Noticing and observing objects at Bradford Industrial Museum

Pupils object drawing

The trials for the Art & Science of Noticing also provided a great chance for our own staff and colleagues to show off their own personal collection favourites. Collections Manager Gavin Edwards explained his passion for our polished stone axes and how emotive these objects are for him because of the physical connection they give us to the people who once used them. Noticing the shape, colour and texture of the axes, Gavin could see the settled way of farming life in those times. He imagined what they could create and achieve with the axe and also how upset they might be if one was lost or broken.

Gavin looking at the Stone Axes Collection
Gavin looking at the Stone Axes Collection

For more details about the Art & Science of Noticing and all our other workshops and services, please see the Learning page of this website.

The Artists Folio

This unique exhibition, which runs from 7 Feb to 15 June at Cartwright Hall Art Gallery presents a selection of folios from the Bradford’s print collection. Guest curator Professor Paul Coldwell, University of the Arts, London, will be blogging during his time with us on the show. Look out for updates!

I was delighted to be invited to work with Sonja Kielty, Curator of Exhibitions and the wonderful print collection at Cartwright Hall Art Gallery to develop this exhibition. It came about from a belief that the print folio is not only a form for presenting a group of work but also reflects contemporary printmaking practise more truthfully than the individual print seen in isolation.

Paul Folio blog

While at its most basic level the folio represents a convenient way of marketing an artist’s work particularly to specialist collectors, it also provides a means of ensuring that a set of work is kept together in perpetuity and can be read and interpreted as a whole concept. In this way, the print folio can be best understood by considering the variety of ways that popular music albums are produced and marketed. There are albums of unrelated songs by a single performer, albums featuring songs connected to a theme, such as love or protest, there are ‘greatest hits’ albums etc,etc. But there are also albums where the individual tracks are embedded within an overall idea or proposition, the aptly named concept album such as the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon or David Bowie’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars. So while individual songs from any of these albums still resonate as a single experience, something extra is added by understanding it’s role and place within the whole.


Researching the exhibition we uncovered some real treasures, including a folio of original lithographs by LS Lowry and a folio of drypoints of ‘Landscapes of War’ by William Rothenstein in 1921, studies made on the Somme in the First World War where he went as an official war artist. It is fitting, in this year that marks the centenary of the outbreak of war in 1914 that we have an opportunity to present these powerful and moving prints.

LS Lowry, Lithograph. Copywright The Estate of L.S. Lowry. All rights reserved, DACS 2014.


Kids in Museums – Takeover Day

For the third year running, we invited a local Primary school to work alongside staff and ‘take over’ one of our sites as part of the National ‘Kids in Museums’ initiative. This year, a class of Year 5 pupils from Whetley Academy came to work alongside staff at Cartwright Hall Art Gallery.

In small groups the pupils performed a number of tasks which ranged from creating a family trail to becoming exhibition curators giving gallery talks, judging artwork, gilding, pest control and answering the phones. Their enthusiasm and skills were evident right from the off as they set about ‘taking over’ Cartwright Hall, below are a few quotes from some of the pupils who took part.

‘Looking at the insects and finding out about the pest because it was exciting and I used the magnifying glass’

2253 163

‘The gilding was absolutely astonishing. It had information of the olden days how they used to handle gold’

‘Answering the phone because I love answering the phone and once I tried this activity it wowed me’

Caroline Marcus ‘National Project Manager’ for Take Over Day, came to observe the day and left the following comments.

‘It was wonderful to see how comfortable and excited the children were in the gallery space by the end of the day. They’d taken ownership, were relaxed with the staff and most of all enjoyed themselves in the Gallery. There was a real buzz. Many plan to return with their friends and family to see ‘’their’’ paintings and objects and to discover more with the trails they’d created together.’

2253 79

The day was a huge success for both pupils and staff alike and we were so impressed by their efforts that a display of the work they created on the day was put together in one of our galleries.

Thanks again for a memorable day, we all loved it and they’re still talking about it now’ – Kris Feather, class teacher.

The Emigrant Ship

We’re really pleased to say that our latest blog was written by Year 11 student Elinor, who was with us recently on work experience from Guiseley School Technology College. Elinor spent a week shadowing staff at Cartwright Hall Art Gallery and was inspired to write a piece about her favourite piece of artwork there, The Emigrant Ship. We really hope Elinor’s writing inspires readers of this blog to visit Cartwright Hall.

The Emigrant Ship by C J Staniland is part of Yorkshire’s Favourite Paintings and more information can be found here

It has been incredibly difficult choosing a work of art as my favourite piece. This is because there are many works of art at Cartwright Hall that have caught my attention such as: ‘The Garden of Enchantment,’ ‘The Brown Boy’ and ‘The Heart of the West Riding.’ All these paintings are fascinating and I was surprised by their beauty and detail. However, the piece of artwork I have decided to write about is The Emigrant Ship by Charles Joseph Staniland.


The art work is an oil painting, completed in 1880.  You can clearly see the age of the painting through the clothes the people wear which represent the fashion of the era. Not only is it a stunning piece of artwork, but it is keeps us intrigued with the context surrounding the picture. You are continually questioning what is going on in the painting. It’s clear, that a number of people are boarding the ship, presumably to emigrate. However, the cluster of people stood next to the ship each tell their own story, which you can interpret yourself. It is a very mysterious painting.

I would highly recommend you visit Cartwright Hall Art Gallery and see The Emigrant Ship for yourselves. There are many other paintings in Cartwright Hall which I am sure you would find inspiring.

Elinor                                                                                                               Year11 student                                                                                                Guiseley School Technology College

Friends of the Manor House 50th Anniversary Celebrations

This year, the Friends of the Manor House are celebrating their Fiftieth anniversary with an exhibition showing the many and varied contributions they’ve made over the years, from purchases of art and equipment, to organising a continuing programme of concerts and lectures.

As part of the celebrations, they commissioned a ‘Mini Manor House’, a doll house version of the Manor House. The process started with a discussion about an appropriate gift to mark the anniversary and a trip by members of the Friends to Cartwright Hall to look at the ‘Arab Weavers House’ – a dolls house inspired by a painting on display there ‘An Arab Weaver’ by Armand Point. The Friends were very enthusiastic, and agreed to fund the creation of the ‘Mini’ Manor House.


As part of the project we also created a set of inhabitants based on records from the 1901 census so that visitors can use them to interact with the ‘mini’ Manor House. IlkleyGrammar School sixth-formers are working to research some of these residents, and will be sharing what they’ve discovered of the Manor House’s history with local Primary school, All Saints.

The ‘Mini’ Manor House was commissioned from Roger Butler, a skilled artist who has now made his very first Dolls House, and used information provided by museum staff and the Friends of the Manor House to create it. We’re very happy with the result!

It was formally presented to the Lord Mayor of Bradford, Cllr Khadim Hussain to accept on behalf of the museum at the exhibition opening in June. Now, in pride of place downstairs at the Manor House, we look forward to seeing more of our visitors interact with it.

Permanent artwork display changes at Cartwright Hall

By Janet Simmonds – Museum Manager Central

Due to curatorial advice regarding conservation, the next few months will see some changes to the Connect galleries on the first floor at Cartwright Hall. Some paintings will be moved to store which enables us to showcase some works which have not been on display for some time, giving visitors a fresh insight into the collections we hold.

We have just replaced Andy Warhol’s ‘Marilyn’ with David Hockney’s photo collage ‘My Mother, Bolton Abbey; with ‘Dead Beatrice’ by Rossetti (to be part of a Rossetti exhibition next year) being replaced by ‘Madonna and Child’ by Rosso Fiorentino.

Also, ‘Ingleborough from under White Scar, Yorkshire Limestone Strata’ 1868 by John Atkinson Grimshaw has replaced Hockney’s photo collage, ‘Gordale Scar’.

We welcome back from a major Pre-Raphaelite tour, Ford Madox Brown’s ‘The First Translation of the Bible into English’ of 1847-8 and say goodbye, albeit temporarily, to Lowry’s ‘Industrial Landscape, Ashton under Lyne’, which is on loan to Tate Britain for the forthcoming exhibition, Lowry and the Painting of Modern Life. Replacing this painting is Hockney’s ‘Bolton Junction’ of 1956.

So, lots of changes, we hope you enjoy them!


Cliffe Castle Blog

Work at Cliffe Castle continues to progress and it’s great to see the building starting to change as new lights begin to go on in the ground floor galleries.

March has seen the restoration and installation of three fabulous Victorian Gas lights in the entrance area and Breakfast Room. These should make the building even more welcoming and give visitors a feel of the house’s Victorian heyday.

Also planned is the complete cleaning of our four huge lead crystal chandeliers which were bought by Henry Isaac Butterfield in the 1880s. With the support of grant aid they should sparkle properly again. Specialists from Ross on Wye will be coming to site to take them to pieces and wash them, we are sure you will notice the difference.

While we have been closed we have also made some special acquisitions which you can see when we open. Best of all we have found the original portrait of Queen Victoria, which was bought by the Butterfield family in the 1880s and left the collection in the 1950s.

Queen Victoria portrait in the Breakfast room
Queen Victoria portrait in the Breakfast room

Painted when the Queen was in her early widowhood it’s an astonishing work of art. This is currently being cleaned and restored ready for you to see later in the year. The attached picture shows it when first installed in the Breakfast room over a century ago.

Visitors will also be pleased to know that the first layers of paint are going on in the Bracewell Smith Hall. Originally coloured in red, green and cream with elaborate gilded borders, the room is going back to its original 1950s appearance. We hope to have this area fully refurbished by Summer of 2013.

We will be publishing a detailed opening programme soon. If you have any queries about the museum please contact us on 01535 618231.


Danish Christmas at the Manor House

Written by Lauren Padgett – Museum Assistant

Every year the Friends of the Manor House take on the responsibility and mammoth task of decorating the museum. Each year has a new, exciting theme. This year a Danish theme was chosen.

On Thursday 29th November, some of the Friends gave up their time and busied themselves ‘Danifying’ the museum. Out came bags of ivy garlands, lots of pretty red paper hearts, a ‘Velkommen’ (Danish for Welcome) wreath and strings of Danish flags. Not forgetting the ensemble of elves known as Nisse in Danish. By mid-afternoon on the Thursday, the museum had been transformed from an English, medieval manor to a very festive, Danish home. Cups of tea all around were in order.

Nisse elves in Danish folklore protect farmers’ homes and children from misfortune and bad deeds during the night. Our Nisse watched over the museum and brought children visiting good fortune over the Christmas period. Children could also play a game of hide and seek with the Nisse elves as ten were hidden around the museum waiting to be found.

Afterwards, children could sit down to make Christmas decorations at the craft table – Danish decorations of course. The Friends had also arranged two Hans Christian Andersen story-telling sessions before Christmas to help visitors get into the Christmas spirit that little bit more.  The Danish Christmas was well-received by visitors. The museum assistants at the Manor House wish they had a pound for every time they heard a child gasp in awe or say ‘WOW’ at the sight of the decorated fireplace and real fir tree.

It was a fantastic Christmas at the Manor House, thanks to the Friends and all their hard work. Who knows what the theme might be for Christmas 2013? But what we do know is that we will be finding stray pine needles around the museum until then!

Kids in Museums – Ashlands Primary at the Manor House

On 23 November Year 3 pupils from Ashlands Primary School, Ilkley took part in National ‘Kids in Museums Take Over Day’ at the Manor House, Ilkley.

Pupils greeted visitors, answered the phone, dealt with enquiries, stocked the shop, formulated tours and learnt how to pack objects.

“I learnt how to answer the phone, the first thing you say is ‘good morning Manor House’” Samuel, year 3 pupil

“I loved answering the phone and because I enjoyed it so much I would love to do it at home” Erica, year 3 pupil

Year 3 also curated a display reflecting the development of the camera over the past 60 years which will be on show until 24 February 2013.

“The best bit was when we had to write descriptions of cameras for the display” Reuben, year 3 pupil.

From choosing objects and laying out the display to researching and writing the labels; pupils were excited to be involved in creating a display for visitors.

‘Our daughter came to take over the museum, she enjoyed it so much she wanted us to come too’ Parent

This day at Manor House Museum followed on from a successful day in 2011 at Bolling Hall Museum with Russell Hall Primary School, where pupils worked at the museum for a day and created their own museum back at school.

Bolling Hall

If you’ve been for a visit to Bolling Hall recently, you may have noticed that some of the furniture appears to have sprouted strange white covers…

Bolling Hall is undergoing some major maintenance work at the moment, during which time we’re also taking the opportunity to return some of the rooms to their historical colour schemes. The Housebody, the Georgian stairs and the Ghost room are all having a bit of a makeover and some areas are being returned to the colours they were when the Museum first opened in 1915.   If you walk from the Kitchens towards the housebody, you’ll see the magnolia has been replaced with a dark brown and pale stone colour scheme.  We think it looks a bit like chocolate, but we wouldn’t recommend licking the walls!

With all this work going on, including the preparation for the public Library that opens on the 16th January, we’ve been busy packing away some of the smaller objects to keep them safe whilst the work is going on.  Larger items that we can’t move, such as the Chippendale bed in the Red Couch room are being wrapped in acid-free tissue paper and bubble wrap.

We’ve also been taking the opportunity of giving some of the furniture a conservation clean.  We’ve cleaned upholstery with a special back-pack vacuum cleaner, (which has very low suction and a protective screen) – so that we can remove dirt without damaging the material.  We’ve using soft brushes to clean dust and dirt from furniture, and using special type of wax called ‘Renaissance wax’ developed by the British Museum to clean and protect the wood.  It’s not the most glamorous of jobs, but it is a satisfying one.

Because some of the work to be done will need scaffolding (can you imagine trying to paint a room as tall as the housebody on ladders?) Bolling Hall will shut temporarily from the 17th December.  We’ll be reopening on the 16th January, with the coverings removed, the paint scheme completed and the new Library in place for the community to use.   We look forward to seeing you all then!