Author Archives: The Herbert Team

Object of the Month – March 2012

 

Anglo Saxon shield boss

Anglo-Saxon Shield Boss

Anglo-Saxon warriors are typically pictured wearing a helmet, brandishing a spear or axe and holding a shield. These iconic objects were sometimes buried with the person when he died. From archaeological remains such as these, we have a good idea what people in the past may have looked like.

This shield boss would have formed the centre of a shield and protected the warrior’s hand. It was hand beaten out of a piece of iron. It dates from between 550 and 650 AD. It was found by Jack Edwards during archaeological excavations in Baginton in the 1930s.  

We know little about Saxon Coventry. However, we believe there was a settlement at Baginton near the present day church. It is known their cremation burial ground was on the north side of the village. This settlement was no longer used by 700 AD, at around the same time that people may have built houses on or near what is now Coventry city centre.

This shield boss along with cremation pots from the cemetery can be seen in What’s in Store our accessible store in the Herbert.

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Wonderful Watercolours Sneak Peek 7

Kenilworth Castle with cattle by Anthony Vandyke Copley Fielding

Anthony Vandyke Copley Fielding (1787 to 1855)
Kenilworth Castle with cattle
pre 1855

Anthony Vandyke Copley Fielding was a popular and successful painter, particularly in watercolour. He exhibited over 600 works during his life. From the early 1800s Fielding made several tours around Britain painting landscapes.

This watercolour and many others will be on display in Wonderful Watercolours: Views of Coventry and Warwickshire. The exhibition runs from 25 February to 22 July 2012 at the Herbert. Entry is free.

Wonderful Watercolours Sneak Peek 6

William Brooke, Ancient Passage Leading to the Hall, 1819

William Brooke (1772 to 1860)
Ancient Passage leading to the Hall
1819

St Mary’s Guildhall was begun in 1340 by the merchant guild of St Mary. The building was soon also used by the mayor and governing body of the city, which was closely linked to the guild. It continued to be the city’s centre of administration until construction of the Council House was completed 1917. It hosted many royal visits and a royal prisoner – Mary Queen of Scots. More interesting historical facts about the Guildhall can be found on Coventry City Council’s website.

This watercolour and many others will be on display in Wonderful Watercolours: Views of Coventry and Warwickshire. The exhibition runs from 25 February to 22 July 2012 at the Herbert. Entry is free.

Wonderful Watercolours Sneak Peek 5

Bablake School by Edith Gittins

Edith Gittins (1845 to 1910)
Bablake School
1868 – 1887

Edith Gittins was a social reformer who campaigned for women’s rights. She founded the Leicester Women’s Liberal Association and was an active member of the Women’s Suffrage movement.

This watercolour and many others will be on display in Wonderful Watercolours: Views of Coventry and Warwickshire. The exhibition runs from 25 February to 22 July 2012 at the Herbert. Entry is free.

Wonderful Watercolours Sneak Peek 4

Jordan Well, Coventry by Sydney Bunney, 1916

Sydney Bunney (1877 to 1928)
Jordan Well, Coventry
June 8 1916

Sydney Bunney is best known for his accurate views of Coventry streets and buildings, painted between the 1890s and his death. The Herbert has over five hundred of his pencil and watercolour drawings of Coventry.

This watercolour and many others will be on display in Wonderful Watercolours: Views of Coventry and Warwickshire. The exhibition runs from 25 February to 22 July 2012 at the Herbert. Entry is free.

Wonderful Watercolours Sneak Peek 3

 

Bayley Lane and 'The Cottage', Coventry by Herbert Cox, 1918

What do you think these men are talking about?

Herbert Cox (1869 to 1941)
Bayley Lane and ‘The Cottage’, Coventry
1918

Bayley Lane is one of the oldest streets in Coventry. The name was in use in the 1200s and probably comes from the bailey or outer defences of the castle which stood in this area in the 1100s and 1200s.

This watercolour and many others will be on display in Wonderful Watercolours: Views of Coventry and Warwickshire. The exhibition runs from 25 February to 22 July 2012 at the Herbert. Entry is free.

Wonderful Watercolours Sneak Peek 2

Old Clopton Bridge, Stratford Upon Avon by William Quatremain

William Wells Quatremain (about 1858 to 1930)
Old Clopton Bridge, Stratford upon Avon
1919

Old Clopton Bridge, which has fourteen arches, was built about 1490. It still carries the main road over the River Avon.

William Quatremain also painted some views of Stratford for a popular booklet entitled ‘Shakespeare’s Stratford-on-Avon’ by J. Salmon, Art Printer, Sevenoaks. Quatremain had a bicycle adapted to carry his paint box, easel and stool.

This watercolour and many others will be on display in Wonderful Watercolours: Views of Coventry and Warwickshire. The exhibition runs from 25 February to 22 July 2012 at the Herbert. Entry is free.

Wonderful Watercolours Sneak Peek 1

Paul Sandby, Entrance to Warwick Castle, about 1775

Paul Sandby (1725 to 1809)
The Entrance of Warwick Castle from the Lower Court, No. 2
about 1775

This aquatint was made by Paul Sandby, the first artist in England to use aquatint printmaking. In fact, Sandby created the name aquatint after refining an earlier etching technique. Using the aquatint process allows artists to etch a range of tones and create tonal effects similar to watercolours.

This work and many others will be on display in Wonderful Watercolours: Views of Coventry and Warwickshire. The exhibition runs from 25 February to 22 July 2012 at the Herbert. Entry is free.

Object of the Month – February 2012

Coventry Blitz – General View, 1940,  By Ernest Boye Uden (1911 to 1986)

Coventry Blitz – General View by Ernest Boye Uden (1911 to 1986)

Coventry Blitz – General View
1940
By Ernest Boye Uden (1911 to 1986)

This watercolour painting of Coventry in the Blitz is one of the Herbert’s newest acquisitions. It found its way to us in fairly unusual circumstances. The artist’s daughter got in touch with us from Canada where she now lives, to tell us that this painting was being offered for sale on a website run by an organisation called the Canadian Anglo-Boer War Museum. She was really keen for the Herbert to purchase the work, as she felt strongly that it represents an important event in the city’s history and should be in a museum in Coventry where it could be seen and appreciated by Coventry people.

After a number of communications with the Anglo-Boer War Museum, we reached an agreement with them to buy the painting. Fortunately the sale price was not too high and we were able to use some of the funding we currently have from the Heritage Lottery Fund to purchase works of art on the themes of conflict, peace and reconciliation. This was an ideal use of this funding, as the Herbert’s focus on these themes stems from the experience of Coventry in the Blitz of 1940.

When we first heard about the painting, we didn’t know very much about the artist, but luckily his daughter was able to supply us with some biographical information. We also discovered that the Imperial War Museum has several works by him in their collection.

Ernest Boye Uden (known as Boye Uden to distinguish him from his father Ernest Uden, who was also an artist) was born in 1911 in Peckham in London. He studied at Camberwell School of Art and Goldsmiths College and by 1936 had exhibited work at the Royal Academy. When the Second World War broke out, he joined the Auxiliary Fire Service in London, and was on duty during the air raids on the East End and Docks. He was part of the contingent wetting down St Paul’s Cathedral when it was surrounded by fire.

In 1940 he became an official war artist, attached to the National Fire Service. When Coventry was bombed on the night of 14 November 1940, Uden’s division was sent to the city to support the local fire services. This painting records his view of the three spires as they entered the city. After the war Uden established himself as a successful artist, illustrator and watercolour painter. He was commissioned to produce work for a number of well-known companies, including British Gas, Daimler, Bass, Dunlop, Ferguson Tractors, ICI and the Radio Times. He died in Sudbury in Suffolk in 1986.

The painting has required some work by our conservation team to make it ready for display, including making a new mount for it and framing it. It will be on show for the first time as part of the Warwickshire Watercolours exhibition, at the Herbert between 25 February and 22 July.

Object of the Month – January 2012

Piece of Acropora Palmata Coral

Acropora palmata coral

While cataloguing the coral collection in the Herbert museum, I came across this species of Acropora coral.

Acropora are a genera of coral that contains at least 149 separate species. Acropora palmata has been the subject of recent conservation efforts as its numbers have suffered dramatically in the last 30 years. Acropora palmata is listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. This is the tier before ‘extinct in the wild’.

Acropora palmata is found in the Caribbean Sea, Florida, the Gulf of Mexico and the Bahamas. These corals primarily live in shallow waters with temperatures between 26 °C and 30 °C.

Corals rely on zooxanthellae, which are photosynthetic protozoa that embed themselves in coral tissue. The zooxanthellae receive protection from predators and in return supply the coral with approximately 90% of its energy from their photosynthetic byproducts.  These protozoa are extremely sensitive to variations in water temperature and will leave the coral tissue if long periods of temperature change occur. The result is ‘bleached’ coral as the colourful zooxanthellae leave. Global warming, the rise in sea levels and temperatures have massively affected the symbiotic relationship between corals and these protozoa.

Corals are also suffering world-wide because they are extremely susceptible to pollution, acidification of the sea and changes in ocean salinity. Human activities such as tourism and fishing also pose a threat to coral.

All these factors have affected corals on the global level, but the spread of an aggressive disease called ‘White band disease’ has hit the Acropora palmata species hard. It is estimated that 80-98% of the wild population has been wiped out in the last 30 years.

It is entirely possible that Acropora palmata could soon only be alive in cultivated aquariums.

Sam Caulfield-Kerney

University of Leicester work placement student

Acropora palmata in the wild

 Acropora palmata in the wild.

Photo by Nick Hobgood. Sourced from Wikimedia Commons.

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