Blog Archives

The Last Post

‘Last and final’ tends to put pressure on things to be polished and coherent.  Unfortunately, I don’t think that I can promise that – this is, however, my last blog post.  A small yet significant moment in my last bit week working for the Herbert – as after two and a half years I will be moving on to pastures new.

What a two and a half years it has been! From my first day when I arrived flustered and half and hour late because the train was delayed.  Thankfully this was not held against me and I have been able to work on some fascinating and challenging projects.

One of my very first projects was to work on a project to create a Chinese community film for the British Museum. This was great fun and posed some unique puzzles.  It was great to meet the young people – I had a group of 7 to 17 year olds to work with.  We taught them about oral history and how to do interviews then they interviewed the elders on camera.  Finally, they did some paper cut animation about the stories they had heard. The quirky humour really brightened things up. All this material was edited down to make a film which was shown as part China – Journey to the East, a British Museum touring exhibition.  It was a really special moment to see the film being shown next to priceless objects from ancient China and to see the looks on the young people’s faces when they saw the finished film.

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Experiment S

Crowds Gather for Beginining of the Launch

Okay,  so I said I would get back before the launch and I didn’t, and even though we had a barn storming 2,000 people turn up to our Street Art Launch and get down to Jason Fury’s Hip Hop vibes,  I still didn’t make it back here to share the effect of the planning we had noted in advance.

If you didn’t make the launch and are a little curious you can watch a record of the night here through Mohammed Ali’s eyes.

It appears that stage 1 of Experiment S is complete. We planned and targeted new incoming students through print, email, press and bribery (sweets) and provided a quality product. The results have been quite stunning.

We now have a regular flow of students within the building interacting with our cafe, collections and of course the three Street Art Exhibitions that kind of hit the nail on the head with content.

Stage two of this new direction in audience development is to get a moderate repeat performance for the two events we have coming up for Mohammed Ali – Can Graffiti Art Really Change the World talk with luminary Henry Chalfant and Breaking Down the Wall Live with spoken word and live art that should be a really nice vibe in the gallery.

Crowds Mob the V A Street Art Exhibition

The real challenge of course is sustaining student interest in our offer when Street Art moves out and something with less obvious connections moves in.

We will always be a family friendly venue and need to generate a dual focus – if done effectively, holiday periods where many students are absent would be flowing with families and when families with older children are at school and work our local student population would help us keep up those numbers.

If we look at the positives of what we experienced in our successful family audience focus it would lead us to an approach of total saturation of ‘student’ content,thinking, programming, offer, appeal, marketing, learning, interest, inclusion, media running through everything we do in order become really student friendly.

Let’s hope this can be pulled off by our amazingly talented teams across all departments…

… another time.

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Cabbage with peas – Kapusta z grochem

The current Your Coventry display

When I lived in Poland over ten years ago, a friend taught me the idiom Kapusta z grochem – it literally means cabbage with peas, a dish served during dinner on Christmas Eve, but it also means things are a bit of a mish mash.  Sometimes when you are working on lots of projects at once you do a bit of this and a bit of that and your days can feel like, well, kapusta z grochem.  I was thinking of this because I am working on two Polish projects at the minute, both very different, as different as cabbage and peas but equally interesting.  Read the rest of this entry

Deaf Sport in Coventry video

Here it is – the fantastic result of Anne-Marie’s hard work!

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Wild Winners on a Monday Morning

Normally, I am not a great fan of Mondays but this week was a special exception – apart from having to get up early.  I can’t moan really because it was such an extraordinary day and a real privilege; we went to the West Midlands Safari park to celebrate the winners of the Adult Learners’ Week Award organised by NIACE (The National Institute of Adult Continuing Education). 

Kim and Anne-Marie accept their award

Kim and Anne-Marie at the Adult Learners' Week Awards ceremony

 I nominated a lady called Kim Taylor who I had met on a project with Norton House – a day centre for homeless and vulnerably housed people.  Kim and others made a film and worked on the ‘Braving the Elements’ display for Elements, our natural history gallery. In addition to making the film, they chose objects and wrote labels and text panels.  Kim impressed me with her perseverance and commitment to the project.  She came and got involved consistently despite the fact that she had a lot of personal stuff going on.  As a result of her work on the project, Kim was also honoured with a regional individual learner’s award because, although she has made mistakes, she has used learning to turn her life around and is taking small steps to make a difference to her life, often very courageously with lots of other competing demands on her.    Read the rest of this entry

Diamond Mining at the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum

It is a wonderful feeling when you get to the end of a project and you can look back over all the things that have been achieved. 

Earlier on I was watching the almost final version of a film about Deaf sport in Coventry.  I have been working on the film for months and it is great to finally see it coming together.  It is the result of interviews which we conducted with members of the local Deaf club in Coventry about their memories of sport. They had some great stories to tell including the Deaf Club’s hat-trick of victories against the Deaf German team.  

I spent many happy hours sifting through the interviews to find the best bits. We were fortunate to get some money from the Museums Libraries and Archives Council and the People’s Record to collect reminiscences, photographs and documents from local community groups about sport in response to the Olympics.  We now have nearly 180 records relating to sport in the local Deaf community’s history including an interview with a Gold medal wining Deaflympian and a picture of Bobby Ball!

After a few headache inducing hiccups such as losing one of our community partners, interviewees not turning up due to a lost fax and the endless juggling of subtitles and voice over to get it all to fit into the film, the film should be finished next week – touch wood – and as soon as it is I will be delighted to share it with you.

You can watch the video on this blog and on our YouTube Channel.

Anne-Marie Sandos, Social Inclusion Officer

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