Saturday 31 December 2016

Happy New Year from Bridging Arts

This isn't a New Year's photo - but a lovely festive picture of Christmas at the Royal Naval Auxiliary Hospital in Truro a 100 years ago. This emergency hospital was set up in the old work house on Tregolls Road in Truro to cope with the wounded and injured from World War One.
Everyone has made such an effort to create a cheering atmosphere - despite the circumstances - in the very best spirit of Christmas.

A very Happy New Year and thanks to everyone who helped, volunteered and worked on our projects over the past year.

Our World War One exhibition Heart of Conflict is at the Royal Cornwall Museum until the end of June 2017 - so plenty of time to go and see that.
Also in Cornwall - Max Whetter's winning deck design is on sale now at Roots Skate Store, A perfect present for a keen skater.
In London -we'll be working in January with elderly people in Hammersmith and visiting the V&A to see a special embroidery exhibition.
And.....we'll announce the winner of our competition for an African Headwrap! Here's to 2017.

Thursday 22 December 2016


Cornish skateboarder Max Whetter – who flips burgers to finance his art – has won this year’s Whatever It Takes competition for a new skateboard design with a tower of burgers, buns and relish reflecting his life in the kitchen.

Max, 27, was born in Truro and now lives in Newquay. “The reason that my drawing is based on food is that living in a Cornish seaside town, half of my time is spent working in kitchens cooking burgers for tourists on holiday,” he says. “The other half is spent skateboarding. So a food-based deck design seemed appropriate to me.”

Max started to sell his drawings on the internet earlier this year to raise enough money to buy a new skateboard. He also entered the Whatever It Takes competition – getting a free trial of Photoshop from the internet and learning how to use it via Youtube videos. He is now developing his art at Cornwall College.

“We were so impressed by Max’s design,” said Susan Roberts, Director of the charity Bridging Arts which ran the competition with Roots Skate Shop in Camborne. “It was brilliantly executed and wittily tells the story of his life in Cornwall.”

The design has now been printed on to boards which are on display and for sale at Roots Skate Shop.

“This competition is really important because it gives artists a different way in which they can express their creations,” says Roots owner Tom Hudson. “Hopefully it will inspire kids in the future. I’m stoked to be able to display the boards here.”

The background....

Whatever It Takes – a competition for skateboard design - is run by Bridging Arts in partnership with Roots Skate Shop in Camborne.

It was launched in 2012 with the support of skateboarder Nick Jensen. An exhibition of the winning boards was held at Heartlands, Pool, near Camborne. A selection of boards by professional artists who contributed to the project is now on display at Roots Skate Shop.

Friday 16 December 2016

Heart of Conflict opens in Truro

 Great to see so many old - and new  - friends at the opening of Heart of Conflict in Truro at the Royal Cornwall Museum. The exhibition will be open until the end of June 2017. Wonderful to have so many stories and objects on display.

Heart of Conflict will run until 30 June 2017 at the Royal Cornwall Museum, River Street, Truro, Cornwall TR1 2SJ. Tel: 01872 272205. 

For more information email

Museum opening times over Christmas and the New Year: 
The museum will be closed 24th-27th December and the 2nd January. Normal opening hours are Mon-Sat 10am-4.45pm. Last admission 4pm. Open Bank Holidays. Admission charge £5.50 (including a £1 voluntary donation). Free for Under 16s.

Tuesday 15 November 2016

Sparkling work at Hammersmith embroidery workshop

Lovely to spend a grey November afternoon at the Masbro Centre in Hammersmith, west London, where our volunteer Katrina Williams was leading an embroidery class. This is the fourth workshop we have done here - and this time people even arrived half an hour early so they could get started!
It's a wonderful group for older people.
Here's a quick photogallery of work produced.

Saturday 12 November 2016

Exhibition on Conscientious Objectors in St Austell

Very many thanks to Mike Berris who let us know about the exhibition at St Austell Meeting House, staged by local Quakers - featuring Conscientious Objectors in World War One. The exhibition collected little known information, and photographs, of the men who stood up for their beliefs. Many were imprisoned at Dartmoor.

Remembrance Day assembly at Richard Lander School, Truro

Great to be able to attend a Remembrance Day assembly at Richard Lander School, Truro, on Thursday. A big thank you to history teacher Julia Brindley who helped to arrange this. And many congratulations to the team of students who prepared such an excellent presentation on the autograph book that we'll be featuring in Heart of Conflict at the Royal Cornwall Museum, Truro (the exhibition will open on 17 December 2016).
Here are a few photos - the students were speaking to well over 100 in the hall....

Saturday 5 November 2016

Heart of Conflict - the details

A young woman in Cornwall's Land Army in WW1
I've been posting updates on production and research so often on Heart of Conflict... Perhaps it's time to publish the nitty gritty: 

Our new exhibition Heart of Conflict: Cornwall’s World War One will open at the Royal Cornwall Museum on 17 December 2016 and run until the end of June 2017. 

We’ve worked closely with local historians, volunteers and community groups to gather stories and material to display.

Thousands of men and women left Cornwall between 1914-18 to endure terrible hardship fighting the Germans in France and further afield. For those left behind, these were years of privation, anxiety, grief and extraordinary sacrifice.

Heart of Conflict – funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund – looks at how people  kept body and soul together during those years, how they lived and how they loved. It features some previously  untold stories of human bravery and endurance.

We throw a spotlight on families who struggled to make ends meet while waiting for their men and sons to return home, and young women who worked on the land, in munitions factories and in the mines. It also tells the stories of men forced to stay at home to do vital work such as mining, farming or fishing to keep the war machine going.
  • Heart of Conflict opens on 17 December 2016 and runs until 30 June 2017 at the Royal Cornwall  Museum, River Street, Truro, Cornwall TR1 2SJ. Tel: 01872 272205. For more information email
  • Museum opening times over Christmas and the New Year: The museum will be closed 24th-27th December and the 2nd January.
  • Normal opening hours: Mon-Sat 10am-4.45pm. Last admission 4pm. Open Bank Holidays. Admission charge £5.50 (including a £1 voluntary donation). Free for Under 16s.

Friday 4 November 2016

Remembrance Day 2016 - a soldier buried at home

On Friday 11 November (Remembrance Day) at 430pm there will be a short ceremony at Stithians Church (led by Fr Simon Bone) organised by local Duke of Edinburgh volunteer Rhiannon Stevenson. 

Rhiannon has been helping us with research on our exhibition Heart of Conflict (opening at the Royal Cornwall Museum, Truro, in December) and found that there was (unusually) a World War One soldier buried in the graveyard.

Joseph Martin sadly died of his wounds at Bagthorpe Military Hospital in Nottinghamshire on 17 December 1917: his body was brought home to Stithians. He was only 22. He was in the Royal Berkshire Regiment and could have been wounded at the battle of Ypres earlier in the year.

He was the son of John and Mary Martin of Lansenwith (John Martin described himself as being in the meat trade in the 1911). We've been unable to track down any descendants as yet but will keep trying.

At the ceremony, Rhiannon will say something about Joseph Martin and read a poem she has written - we'll then lay flowers on the grave and sing hymns selected by Rhiannon, then the National Anthem.

Thursday 3 November 2016

Art workshop in Brixton

Great to be on Loughborough Road, Brixton, on Saturday at Gida, Jos Brient's new art collective there. We were offering people the chance to enter our competition for an African headwrap design, which closed on 31 October 2016. We're now embarking on the judging process - watch this space.

Saturday 29 October 2016

Today's the day....

We're just off to Brixton for a day at the fantastic new collective Gida - part of our competition for new patterns for Africa's headwrap. More here

Saturday 22 October 2016

Photos from an album

Very interested to see these photocopied pages at the Stanley Spencer museum in Cookham - pages from a notebook. The book itself (below) is in a case and far too precious to be handled, but simple photocopies on a large board are a good way of presenting what's inside.
We'll be showcasing a similar small book at our exhibition at the Royal Cornwall Museum in Truro in Heart of Conflict - it's an autograph album kept by a nurse at Scorrier Auxiliary Hospital near Redruth.
 Love the paintbrushes - they really make things come alive.

Friday 21 October 2016

Lunchtime session in Truro on Heart of Conflict research

Always a pleasure to visit Richard Lander School in Truro - you tell how good a school is the moment you step in the door (something about the atmosphere) and this school is excellent.
The students report back on research that they've done on the World War 1 autograph album that we're featuring in Heart of Conflict - our exhibition opening at the Royal Cornwall Museum, Truro, in December.  Was very impressed that they gave up part of their lunchbreak to do this - and they hadn't even had lunch yet!  They're preparing an assembly for the week of Remembrance Day.
They're a credit to their teacher Julia Brindley who has been encouraging and supporting this project.

Wednesday 19 October 2016

Free art event in Brixton on Saturday 29 October

As part of Black History Month we’re teaming up on Saturday 29 October with the fantastic new "GIDA COLLECTIVE" store in Brixton for a fun, art oriented day - 12 noon to 6pm.

Show us your creative side and come up with youe own pattern for a head-wrap that somehow reflects your life living in Britain today. All drawing and painting materials will be provided FREE OF CHARGE.  This is part of our "I'm Still Here Head Wrap Competition" - more about that here.

The closing date is 31 October 2016 - so you'll still have time if you don't complete it on the day.

The winning design will be printed and sold in selected retail outlets.

Please download and complete the entry form – just click here 

Good Luck and we look forward to meeting you!
Gida is at 55 Loughborough Road, Fiveways, Brixton, London,SW9 7TB

Call 0203 583 6387 or email: for more information.

Wednesday 12 October 2016

No Man's Land

Another masterpiece of World War One art at the Tate - No Man's Land by Charles Sargeant Jagger.
Jagger also created the famous statue at Paddington - more about that here... and here.

Monday 10 October 2016

Men as Machines - World War One

Not  planned - but have recently come across various examples of World War One art.
I'd seen Christopher Nevinson's painting La Mitrailleuse at the Tate before - but forgotten how dark and powerful it is. The men's eyes are hidden. They've become machines.
I also didn't realise that Nevinson had worked as an ambulance driver on the Front until ill health put a stop to that.

We're featuring men from the Royal Army Medical Corps in our exhibition, Heart of Conflict opening at the Royal Cornwall Museum, Truro, in December.

La Mitrailleuse was very highly praised at the time. Fellow artist Walter Sickert said the painting 'will probably remain the most authoritative and concentrated utterance on the war in the history of painting.' However  - Nevinson didn't think so. His later paintings of WW1 are far more realistic. He thought he had to tell the 'truth'.  Odd to say now that these later paintings are more graphic in a way - but lack the power of the abstract or Cubist La Mitrailleuse. I'm no fan of Cubism but it seems true in this case.

Thursday 6 October 2016

In search of Miss W M Bennett

Good to see this piece in the Cornishman - we're trying to track down information about Miss W M Bennett who lived in Penzance, Cornwall, during World War 1 as part of our work on Heart of Conflict. Click here to read the article.

We're hoping some relatives or descendants will read the article.

Photo by A.W. Jordan/courtesy of the Royal Cornwall Museum, Truro.

Wednesday 5 October 2016

Unveiling Cookham War Memorial

Still on World War One and related topics - Stanley Spencer famously painted the unveiling of the war memorial in his village, Cookham.  This was particularly poignant for him as his adored brother was one of the names engraved on it.
Notably - in his painting, he fails to include the military personnel or the grieving families who were present at the ceremony (as a photo from the time shows).

Tuesday 4 October 2016

Artist Stanley Spencer and the Royal Army Medical Corps

Had forgotten that artist Stanley Spencer had served in the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) in World War One (we're still working on background for our exhibition Heart of Conflict and a number of stories we feature involve men who worked in the RAMC).  His paintings and watercolours give a vivid impression of what it was like to work as a stretcher bearer.  Here mules are bringing the wounded into a dressing station in Macedonia.  Something about the limpness of the bodies on the stretchers is chilling.

Monday 3 October 2016

Memoirs of an Infantry Officer

After so much work researching World War One and looking at photographs - it's a revelation to read writing about the war - Memoirs of an Infantry Officer by Siegfried Sassoon. It's not quite fiction, and not quite a straight autobiography (he wrote it several years after the war).

But some of his observations are chilling. This for example of a night in the hospital with a mortally wounded man in the bed opposite (shielded by screens) after the carnage at Mametz wood.

"Someone called Dicky was on his mind, and he kept crying out to Dicky. 'Don't go out, Dicky, they snipe like hell!' And then. 'Curse the Wood.... Dicky, you fool, don't go out!'....All the horror of the Somme attacks was in that raving; all the darkness and the dreadful daylight...."

Earlier he comments on press coverage at the time:

"A London editor driving along the road in a staff car would have remarked that the spirit of the troops was amazing. And so it was. But somehow the newspaper men always kept the horrifying realities of the War out of their articles, for it was unpatriotic to be bitter, and the dead were assumed to be gloriously happy."

Sunday 2 October 2016

No reason to stay ashore...

"The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore." Vincent Van Gogh.

A great quote from Van Gogh to start this Sunday.

These fishermen (photo from the Royal Cornwall Museum) were from Porthleven and all over 70 when they took to sea in World War One due to a shortage of local men.

More about Cornwall during WW1 in our exhibition Heart of Conflict at the Royal Cornwall Museum in Truro, opening in December 2016.

Saturday 24 September 2016

Visit to Treleigh Church - embroidered altar cloth

Visited Treleigh Church, near Redruth, this morning where local historian Paddy Bradley (who has helped us so much with Heart of Conflict, our work on World War One) has set up an exhibition to mark the 150th anniversary of the church.  Fascinating - as ever. The church a spectacular example of mid 19th century architecture.
An unexpected surprise is the altarcloth which is famous for the standard of its needlework depicting a local landscape with mine chineys and engine house. We can't see the golden gorse at the centre as it's Harvest Festival and the sheaf of corn is hiding it. Worth coming back to see.
 Outside in the church hall - what a splendid display of cushions. Very cheerful. If they all matched, it wouldn't be half as inviting.

Friday 23 September 2016

In search of a key image

Photo research this morning at the Royal Cornwall Museum, Truro, where our exhibition Heart of Conflict, Cornwall's World War One, will be opening in mid December.
We're in search of a key image i.e. a picture that sums up the situation at home, the sacrifices people made and the hardship they endured. It isn't easy but there are lots of choices. Images by local photographer A.W. Jordan who was based in Truro of local land army girls are interesting. But the search continues....

Wednesday 21 September 2016

100 Faces 100 Stories

To Camborne Old Cornwall Society with our volunteer and keen local historian Valerie Grigg. Jo Mattingley makes a presentation on 100 Faces 100 Stories, a Heritage Lottery funded project to gather information and images from Cornish collections on World War One.
An amazing amount of work that resulted in an excellent booklet and website - more here.

Tuesday 20 September 2016

Christmas Eve funeral for girls blown up in explosives factory

The week continues in a melancholy fashion: as part of Heart of Conflict, in search of more graves we visit Phillack, near Hayle, where two young women were buried on Christmas Eve 1916 following an explosion at the National Explosives Factory on the dunes.  More in this article by Peter London.  Huge amounts of explosives were produced there during World War One and the work was extremely dangerous.
We don't manage to find the graves but there is a useful contact inside the church so we can email the vicar tomorrow. (Wonderful bonus to find the church open - not that usual these days).

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