Dean Veall here. This week it is I who am bringing you specimen of the week and I have the great pleasure of bringing you specimen 146! Huzzah. But can it really have been seven whole weeks since I last shared a specimen with you? In my role of Learning and Access Officer I have several hats I wear, (these hats pale in comparison to the hats worn by Joe Cain during our Film Nights) so more like caps then. Naturally they are of the flat variety, or as we call them back home Dai Caps, reflecting my heritage, politics and social status as a ‘working class hero’ (who works in the arts and cultural sector!?). When I take off my more showy Dai Cap I wear for our evening events for adults that showcase UCL research I put my more hardier Dai Cap I wear during the day for our Schools learning programme. This week’s specimen of the week is one that I use heavily in our sessions we run for primary schools here in the Museum. It is one that inspires a myriad of questions from the pupils, most frequent being that old favourite “Is it alive?” and a new kid on the block “But why is it moving?”. To find out the answers to these questions and more read on. This week’s specimen of the week is……….
This Wednesday, 29 January, UCL Museums and Collections, and UCL Library Special Collections, teamed up with the literary charity First Story to deliver our annual creative writing event. Around 90 students from local London secondary schools spent the afternoon exploring and writing about our collections.
Events like these remind me of how lucky I am to work as an educator in museums. As museum professionals, we spend a long time thinking about how to tell stories (stories of our museums, stories of our collections, stories of our objects, stories of the people that owned said objects, etc, etc…I could go on) but it is so refreshing to hand the role of the storyteller over to students, who can provide us with a totally fresh take on the collections we know so well. The results were, quite simply, fantastic. Below is just one example of the quality of work produced from the visit:
Jack Isaaz –La Grotteri, from King Solomon Academy, was inspired to think about his heaven and hell through working with the UCL Library Special Collections and, in particular, by Botticelli’s illustrations of Dante’s Divine Comedy:
For it is All that I Need
Sensations seldom felt grip the air.
More stains of darker, saturated hues. But still
All feels grey. Unlike once before, the silence
Is now silent: sounds of death, dead
Vibrations permeate the dust that you hear
And breathe. I can’t bear the nothing that
I never had. You don’t see for there is nothing
She smiles again once more, though not one thing
Could ever make one forget such a sight.
The sun shines on the clouds and as it should,
It does not shine on us. We are left with
The fray of the familiar. The cold that embraces us is
No foe, cooling our skin with its inviting breath.
I imagine the park adjacent to the grass where I
Lay down gazing at nothing because it is nothing that
I’ve become accustomed to. The fun nothings I need.
Raindrops now, stain the tar that bleaches the roads I’ve
Walked upon my entire life. The buildings are calmed
As their shadows find homes with the darkening
Surface. There is no need for thought or speech for
All is as it should be. I imagine
Jack Isaaz –La Grotteri, King Solomon Academy
To find out more about the work that First Story do you can visit their website: http://www.firststory.org.uk/
Alice Salmon is a Senior Access Officer in the Access and Learning Team for UCL’s Museums and Public Engagement Department.