Our groups of volunteers are working on various projects in local galleries, museums and churches. Volunteers do not need to have previous experience in these areas as appropriate training will be given when the project commences.
Leamington Spa Museum
The Arts Society Heritage Volunteers have been working at the Museum since 2004, and, of the six original volunteers, two are still regular members. In recognition of their dedication and commitment, the Area Heritage Volunteer Representative, David Brass, awarded the Group a Gold Star Certificate, following on from their West Midlands Museum Volunteer Award, which they won last year. David presented the award to the Group in October, when the Chairman, Elizabeth Hunter, was also present.
Over the years the Group has carried out numerous tasks. These have included work on the textile, ethnographic and social history collections and more recently, mounting the samplers. They are now revisiting a task they first began in 2004, which is the checking and repacking of the costumes in the Textile Collection.
In order to carry out this work to appropriate conservation standards, training sessions are regularly held and, in November, a session has been organised on packing, handling, and condition checking, with a particular focus on textiles. These sessions are very helpful to all volunteers and improve their knowledge and keep their skills update
All Saints’ Parish Church, Leamington Spa
The Volunteers have now been working at the Church for over a year. During that time they have carried out repairs and conservation work to the Church’s wonderful collection of ecclesiastical embroidery, ranging in size from small collection purses to large altar frontals.
Because many of the items are still used, they are vulnerable to further damage and our Textile Conservationist has recently given the group a training session on the use of specially dyed netting which covers the areas most at risk. This process will take some weeks to complete.
In the meantime, we have taken some items from the church and they are now on display in the Leamington Museum in the ‘Spotlight’ position. The items include a cope, an altar frontal and a burse and stole. It is hoped to hold a larger Embroidery Exhibition at the church in 2018.
The work will occupy the group for a considerable amount of time and if you would like help or to see the volunteers at work, do visit the church on a Wednesday morning after 10.30am when the church and café are open – but not on an Arts Society Royal Leamington Spa lecture day.
The Herbert Museum and Art Gallery
In November 2018, the volunteers at the Herbert Museum in Coventry will celebrate EIGHT YEARS of volunteering at the Museum. In August the Group was nominated for the West Midlands Volunteer Awards, Collections Section, and reached the finals. Sadly, they did not win, being beaten by Compton Verney’s Forest School Volunteers. However, they had a wonderful evening at the award ceremony and enjoyed “being made to feel very special”, which, of course, they are!
During their years at the museum, the Volunteers, Ruth Barton, Anne Haywood, Alex Harris and Shirley Jack, have been involved with a huge variety of projects, ranging from making underskirts for a dress exhibition at Blenheim Palace, mounting samplers, making padded coat hangers, sword covers, parasol covers and even mounting birds for the Natural History section of the museum. One of their more unusual projects was making saddle covers for the bicycles in the Transport Museum. They have also made Sensory Story props for the younger visitors to the museum, including The Hungry Caterpillar and a sensory blanket.
More recently, they have been very busy making backdrop curtains for the Santa Sleigh ride at the Transport Museum, a ride which has been popular in Coventry for over thirty years and used to be owned by The Co-op. It is like a simulator – the sleigh goes up and down and the backdrop , which is painted with a scene, moves giving the impression you are flying! The original backdrop was falling to pieces and a new one was needed, which is like curtains with heading tape.
This sounds quite straightforward except that each of the 2 curtains was 12 metres long. Trying to cope with all that material going through a machine was challenging, but, as usual, the group found some innovative ways of handling the situation – as can be seen in the photos. The Transport Museum were so grateful for this work that they very kindly bought the group a new sewing machine … and … promised them a ride in the sleigh when it is up and running!
The next task is to make padded dots and dashes for a morse code activity at the Transport museum. These are made from shiny material and padded like little cushions Again it sounds straight forward but they need 150 of each, so by the time they finish they will be seeing dots and dashes before their eyes