Wednesday 6 December 2017

How to make a nightingale sparkle

Tidying up (unusually!), I came across our basic embroidery pack the other day with a (beautifully) embroidered example of how the design should look if worked in perfect crewel  stitch...
This was wonderfully done by a tutor from the Royal School of Needlework who was working with us at the time.  The nightingale and rose were carefully chosen - motifs that resonated with embroiderers of all faiths and backgrounds.
But just look at what our Christmas card designer Manik Miah transformed his into.... You can see if you zoom in that he outlined the bird with the same brown stitch, and the rose with pink and the leaves with green.  Then he went wild with sequins and colour to get wonderful final result that we feature on this year's card. More about that  here..
To find out more about Manik and his interest in embroidery, click here.

Thursday 30 November 2017

Young women remembered at Phillack Church

Great to see a booklet by local historian Chris Berry in Phillack Church, Hayle - with lots of information regarding the deaths of two young women in 1916, during World War One.
May Stoneman and Cissie Rogers died in a huge explosion at the National Explosives Factory on Hayle sand dunes. The factory at the time was producing munitions for the war and was one of the largest in the country.
Their graves are in Phillack Church graveyard.
We presented their story as part of our exhibition Heart of Conflict at the Royal Cornwall Museum earlier this year
The boards that were at the Museum are now on display at Phillack Church, so the two women are remembered now close to their final resting place, along with James Cock and George Perry who also died in the explosion.
Chris Berry has done some wonderful additional research, which adds a great deal to the very sad story.
We're hoping to stage some poetry workshops in Hayle next year, to coincide with the centenary of the end of World War One. Watch this space.

Saturday 25 November 2017

A programme for the weekend - Welsh poet Hedd Wyn

The extraordinary interior of Hedd Wyn's house

I have to confess that I'd never heard of the Welsh poet, Hedd Wyn, before. But our volunteer Katrina Williams told me about him yesterday. He was a very promising young poet - but killed on the Western Front in World War 1. He was born in north Wales. Here's the blurb from the BBC. Katrina, who is Welsh herself, says it's fascinating to see the 'black chair' mentioned here. You can catch up with this - all being well - on these links:

"The story of Hedd Wyn is one of Wales's enduring tragedies.
A young man with little or no education succeeds in winning
The Chair, one of the main literary prizes at the National
Eisteddfod, but is killed in WWI before he could claim his
prize. To mark the centenary of his death, National Poet of
Wales Ifor ap Glyn reassesses Wyn's life and work.
His journey takes him from Trawsfynydd, where Hedd wyn was
born and raised, to Liverpool, where he was trained to
fight, and onwards to France and Belgium, where he was
killed in action on 31 July 1917.
Ifor visits Hugh Hayley, one of Britain's leading furniture
conservators, to gain an insight into the remarkable
woodcarvings embedded into the ancient oak of Wyn's Black
Chair. In France and Belgium, Ifor retraces the poet's
final weeks, days and minutes. His successful poem, aptly
titled Yr Arwr (The Hero), was finished and sent from the
trenches, and his florid yet absorbing letters from the
front seem to paint a picture of a young man who still felt
the creative urge, amidst all that went on around him.
Featuring fascinating first-hand accounts, interviews
recorded during the 1960s and 1970s with family and
friends, and contemporary archive material from WWI, Ifor
reassesses the poet's legacy. Why does this story continue
to fascinate us so? What would Hedd Wyn have achieved had
he lived? Maybe these are questions that can never be fully
answered, but one thing is for certain, Hedd Wyn's legacy

Friday 24 November 2017

Try this - it really IS easy, especially on Black Friday....

Black Friday - and I have mainly resisted all temptation. Apart... from buying a photo frame online from Selfridges.  Thanks to the miracle of Easyfundraising, Selfridges has donated £1.05 to Bridging Arts (from a purchase of £29).
That really IS an easy way to raise money for a good cause.

It is so easy to sign up. You can download an Easyfundraising link to your laptop (which is easiest) - or you can just visit Easyfundraising page before you visit a retailer's site.
You visit the retailer online, click 'activate donation' and it's as easy as that.
Here's some blurb with instructions to sign up. Please forward to friends, too.
Something to bear in mind as you do any online shopping -- through Easyfundraising you can make FREE donations to Bridging Arts. It doesn't cost you a penny -- it's the retailer who pays.
Here’s how you can get started:
  • Click through and follow the links.
  • Once you've ordered, the retailer gives a  percentage of the sale price to charity.
You can now support Bridging Arts and your help really DOES make a difference.

Catching up with Malik

It was great to see Malik Miah on Tuesday at the Elders' Group at the Masbro Centre, Hammersmith.  Manik had created the embroidery featured on our Christmas cards this year - click for more.
It was the first time Manik had seen the finished cards. It was great to hear that he was pleased with them! Here he is with the finished product.  If you could like to buy some cards, click here.

Friday 17 November 2017

Manik Miah's embroidery

Manik Miah created the spectacular embroidered bird on our Christmas card this year. He was a keen member of the embroidery workshops we've held over the past few months at the Masbro Centre, in Hammersmith, with the Elders' Group there. The Elders' Group is a wonderful weekly gathering of older people who enjoy a range of activities and social events. Working with them was great fun.

Manik, originally from Bangladesh, has attended the Elders' Group since 2005 and enjoys the company and party atmosphere. He particularly liked embroidering as it reminded him of home.
"I find it very relaxing .. . In my country there is a big culture of needlework so I like it very much."

If you would like to buy any of these cards, please click here.

Thursday 16 November 2017

Christmas cards 2017 - please support Bridging Arts

We've produced some lovely Christmas cards this year - featuring a design by Manik Miah, who attended our embroidery workshops at the Masbro Centre, Hammersmith. Manik started with a simple outline of a nightingale, and transformed it into something splendid and sparkling - just right for Christmas. These are quite big cards - 148mm x 148mm - and the greeting inside reads 'With best wishes for Christmas and the New Year'.

Please see below for images of the front and the reverse. The cards are £7.50 for 10, including package and postage. Email to place your order.

Also pictured below - Manik with other people at the workshop last spring.

Monday 13 November 2017

Remembrance Day in Hayle

St Elwyn's Church, Hayle, was packed yesterday - Remembrance Sunday.  There were Guides, Scouts, army cadets and many men (and women) wearing medals.
There was a moving sermon which mentioned the National Explosives Factory in World War One and the two women who died in an explosion, buried in Phillack Church graveyard. The panels from our project Heart of Conflict are now in Phillack Church on display - so that their dangerous and courageous work will not be forgotten.  Everyone walked after the church service to the 11am silence and laying of wreaths at the war memorial.

Saturday 11 November 2017

There died a myriad

Extract of a poem by Ezra Pound - appropriate for Remembrance Day 2017.

These fought in any case,
and some believing,
pro domo, in any case…

Some quick to arm,
some for adventure,
some from fear of weakness,
some from fear of censure,
some for love of slaughter, in imagination,
learning later…
some in fear, learning love of slaughter;

Died some, pro patria,
non ‘dulce’ non ‘et decor’…
walked eye-deep in hell
believing in old men’s lies, then unbelieving
came home, home to a lie,
home to many deceits,
home to old lies and new infamy;
usury age-old and age-thick
and liars in public places.

Daring as never before, wastage as never before.
Young blood and high blood,
Fair cheeks, and fine bodies;

fortitude as never before

frankness as never before,
disillusions as never told in the old days,
hysterias, trench confessions,
laughter out of dead bellies.

There died a myriad,
And of the best, among them,
For an old bitch gone in the teeth,
For a botched civilization,

Charm, smiling at the good mouth,
Quick eyes gone under earth’s lid,

For two gross of broken statues,
For a few thousand battered books.

From Hugh Selwyn Mauberley (1920)

Remembering at Paddington

Paddington station remembering the World War One fallen this morning...

Tuesday 7 November 2017

Heart of Conflict and Social History curators...

We were delighted to be able to write a piece about Heart of Conflict, our work in Cornwall on World War One, for SHC News, the quarterly newsletter of the Social History Curators Group.
It was an easy piece to put together  - it's been such a great project.
The newsletter will eventually be put online. In the meantime, I'll upload a copy of the article on to the Bridging Arts website.
There's a lot of information about the SHCG's work on their website. Click here to read more.

Thursday 2 November 2017

We're in search of a new Trustee.....

Our Trustee Pontus Rosen will be leaving the UK in the spring and we're in search of a new Trustee to take his place on the board.

This will involve four meetings in London a year - plus ad hoc input by email and phone as projects develop. The right person will make a real difference.

If you're keen to join us, please do get in touch. We need someone keen, imaginative and bold enough to help pull off the unexpected just when the odds.  Please send your CV to

For an informal chat, please email

Wednesday 1 November 2017

Paintings of the Royal Army Medical Corps

I've been coming across impressive paintings on Twitter by the artist Gilbert Rogers of the Royal Army Medical Corps. Strangely, I can't track down much about Rogers' background. Apparently he served in the RAMC - and was later asked by the Committee for the Medical History of the War to lead a team of artists charged with representing the medical consequences of battle. It would be interesting to learn where he served.
We're researching the 25th Field Ambulance as part of the next stage of Heart of Conflict, our work in Cornwall marking the centenary of World War One.

Sunday 29 October 2017

Visit to the Lochnagar crater and battlefields of the Somme

 We've been working on World War One since 2014 but nothing prepared us - well, me at least - for the Somme battlefields. The horror somehow still persists. The Lochnagar crater (a failed attempt to blow up the German lines on 1/7/16) is stunningly big - you can tell from the size of the trees on the far side.
A few yards away are the fields that tens of thousands of soldiers ran across to their death. We know that William Gendall Jenkin and his fellow soldiers from St Agnes (click here for more) died near Fricourt. Cecil Calvert, Camborne School of Mines student, died near Albert after trying to rescue men trapped in a tunnel. But there were so many others whose stories will never be told. Tens of thousands of bodies were never recovered.  The Lochnagar crater was bought by an Englishman who was keen that it should be preserved as a reminder of what had happened and as a tribute to those who died. Until recently (when the last of the veterans died) there were men who visited this place annually on the anniversary of the battle and stood in silence to remember those who had been killed.

 As you walk around the Lochnagar crater the number of names is overwhelming - but these are just  a tiny fraction of those who died. This man was a long way from home. 

 The Commonwealth War Grave Commission's graveyards are so impressive - visually and they are immaculately maintained. A photo as below is a stark reminder of what graves would have looked like at the time. Men were buried where they fell, with makeshift markers.  This is near Mametz Wood (not far from Fricourt).

Saturday 28 October 2017

Medical kit from another age

 We've been researching more about medicine in World War One - as part of the next stage of Heart of Conflict, our work marking the centenary of the war.
A visit to the Museum of Military Medicine in Aldershot was interesting.  In one sense, 100 years ago isn't that long - we've been working with people whose fathers were in the conflict.
But the gas marks in particular looks monstrously unfamiliar.  The horror of gas warfare took our army by surprise.

Friday 27 October 2017

Random acts of kindness

 It was very kind indeed of Tracy Buckenham of Roche, Cornwall, to get in touch recently. Tracey had recently bought a load of books at a sale and found this Manual for Women's Voluntary Aid Detachments in its midst.  It wasn't of great interest to her - but she realised that someone keen on the subject in that period would be really interested.
She googled World War One in Cornwall and eventually found us - and in particular Valerie Grigg, who lives in Camborne and who has worked so hard on our project marking the centenary of the War - Heart of Conflict.
Valerie has a particular interest in nursing as she was a nurse herself for 40 years. She gave a talk at the Royal Cornwall Museum, Truro, on nursing during World War One last April while our Heart of Conflict exhibition was there.
A huge thank you to Tracy who drove down to Chiverton Roundabout to meet us and give the book in person to Valerie. It meant such a lot to Valerie.

Thursday 26 October 2017

Remembering Passchendaele in Cornwall

Was impressed to see these memories of Passchendaele on the war memorial at Stithians, Cornwall. Between July and November 1917 - exactly 100 years ago - more than 500,000 men were killed or maimed, gassed or drowned in one of the worst battles of  World War One.
It was an aptly wet and forlorn morning and the papers were weighted down with stones.

A panel from our World War One exhibition Heart of Conflict will be on display at Stithians Church. It's the research uncovered with the help of local Duke of Edinburgh student Rhiannon Stevenson who researched the history behind a local grave.  Stithians' vicar Fr Simon Bone held a service last November to honour this grave.

Friday 13 October 2017

The Royal Army Medical Corps in action....WW1

Discovered these images at the Museum of Military Medicine in Aldershot.... We're going to be researching the 25th Field Ambulance in World War One (which so many men from Cornwall joined) as part of Heart of Conflict as the anniversary of the end of the war approaches.  It was great to find these pictures giving a glimpse of what everyday life must have been life (each has its own caption). Though these are highly sanitised images, of course... The reality would have been far from photogenic.

Thursday 5 October 2017

Poetry is an act of peace

A lovely blog post from Jenny Alexander, who ran an inspiring poetry workshop at our exhibition Heart of Conflict at the Royal Cornwall Museum, Truro last June. Click here to read.
We're looking forward so much to working with Jenny over the next 12 months (as the centenary of the end of World War One approaches).

Monday 18 September 2017

A last look at the White Cliffs of Dover and the battlefields of the Somme

Leaving from Newhaven and looking back - not sure at all whether World War One troops left via this route. (The idea is to follow up some of the stories featured in our WW1 project, Heart of Conflict).
But what a last view of home.
From Dieppe, follow up very modern motorways to Amiens and beyond.
First stop: Albert, the heart of the Battle of the Somme on 1 July 1016. What do people who live here now think of this?
The town - and all the villages around - are totally reconstructed. This was the Front Line for so many years.
The crater at Lochnagar moved me to tears. It is so huge - the scale of the trees on the far edge show just how big it is. However: the explosion was just short of the German lines. British generals had hoped that this huge crater (still one of the biggest non-nuclear explosions ever) would blast the Germans from their trenches. It killed many - but didn't ensure a successful attack. Far from it. More than 6,000 British soldiers were mown down by German bullets as they advanced.

Many years later, an eye witness said that he had entered packed German trenches soon after the explosion and seen many many men killed by concussion, due to huge tremors caused by the explosion.
But the German line held in many places. The inscription on this bench is poignant: 'From Friends Who Visit To Friends Who Remain'.
An Englishman bought the crater site so that the French farmer who owned it wouldn't fill it in. It is now a hugely moving and endearing monument to the dead.

Loved the inscription on this: added flowers to the hook someone
had screwed on to the board

In nearby Pozieres  - a German stronghold - we find a memory of a soldier from Camborne. H.Y. Buscombe, who  - from memory - was at Camborne School of Mines.
There are only (!) 2,000 graves here, but it seems as if there are many, many more.
For the first time the scale of the slaughter becomes clear. All around the area are cemeteries, sited where battalions killed their dead. So many.
The memorial at Thiepval, designed by Edward Lutyens, is extraordinary.
Arrived during a thunderstorm and downpour so did not take photos. But am sure that professionals have done better (a quick Google search will demonstrate, am sure).
Pozieres cemetery: British dead during the Somme

H.Y. Buscombe of Camborne (I believe) on the Pozieres memorial

Sunday 17 September 2017

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Just off to visit the World War One battlefields in France - so fitting to walk past the tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Westminster Abbey yesterday. A soldier 'unknown by name or by rank' - burried ' among the Kings because he had done good toward God and toward his house'.
In France, we'll try to find the graves of the soldiers that we've featured in our World War One project, Heart of Conflict.

Support Us

Bridging Arts depends on grants and charitable donations. To support us, click here.