Newly-acquired painting goes on display

Newly-Acquired Painting Celebrates West Somerset History

We have acquired an outstanding Victorian painting which depicts a little-known aspecCharles Napier Hemy Oyster Dredgers at Porlock Weir 1t of the fishing industry at Porlock Weir. Three oyster dredgers are shown sailing close to the shore with their oyster nets clearly visible in the foreground.

Completed in 1890, the large-scale oil painting is by the artist Charles Napier Hemy who lived at Falmouth for much of his career and was a master of coastal scenes. The painting has been acquired with generous support from the Art Fund and from the Arts Council England/Victoria and Albert Museum Purchase Grant Fund.

Oyster fishing was important at Porlock Weir at least from the early 1700s. After a downturn, fishing revived in the later 1800s, and from about 1870 was largely being undertaken by the Pollard family. They may well be some of the people depicted in the painting. In the early 1900s fishing stopped after boats from Whitby reputedly decimated the oyster beds.

The painting has been acquired at a timely moment. New oyster beds were established in Porlock Bay in 2014 as part of a two-year trial.

Tom Mayberry, Chief Executive of the South West Heritage Trust, said “This painting is far more than just an attractive view of Porlock Weir. It is also a unique record of working life on the West Somerset coast. We are most grateful to our generous funders for making its acquisition possible.”

Steve Thompson, director of Porlock Bay Oysters, said “We are delighted that this important picture’s future has been secured for the enjoyment for all those interested in art and local history. The timing of the acquisition is perfect as Porlock Bay Oysters are scheduled to once again harvest Oysters from the estuary and will commence trading in early 2016.”

Stephen Deuchar, director of the Art Fund, said:  “The painting addresses a historically-important local industry in Somerset, little represented in the visual art collections of the museum, but currently in revival.  So we’re very pleased to support the acquisition of this attractive and significant work by an artist of national repute.”

The painting has just gone on permanent display at the Museum at Somerset.

Brick Wonders exhibition opens on Saturday 11th July

Brick Wonders

Ancient, Natural and Modern Marvels in LEGO®

The exhibition opens on Saturday 11 July and runs until Friday 2 October.

The LEGO models cover thousands of years of history, and every corner of the planet.  There are models of the wonders of the ancient world, through to wonders of the modern age such as the internet, transport and the media.  They include the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Great Wall of China, Old London Bridge, an operating theatre and a huge model of a modern airport.  There will be over 70 models, ranging in size from a few centimetres to several metres.

The models have been made by Warren Elsmore, and are designed to appeal to all ages.  LEGO bricks are unique in having been a top-selling toy for over 50 years.

This special exhibition will be open during the same hours as the Museum of Somerset, Tuesday to Saturday from 10.00 am to 5.00 pm.  It is expected to be very popular so the museum will also open on Mondays during the summer school holidays. Tickets cost £2 per person, with under-3s free.

Susie Simmons, Visitor Services Manager at the museum, said “We are so excited to be bringing this exhibition to Somerset.  It is the first time it has been to the south of England.  Some of the models are incredible.  My favourite is the model of Old London Bridge.“

“We are hoping that lots of people will come along to see the exhibition and be inspired by it.  There will be an area for children of all ages to have a go at creating something themselves.  During the summer holidays we will also have a larger play zone where children can get hands-on.”

Warren Elsmore said “It’s wonderful to be bringing Brick Wonders to the South West – which has so much history of its own! While building Brick Wonders we looked all over the world for inspiration, but much of it came from very close to home. I hope this exhibition can bring some inspiration to all of its visitors – whether young or old.“

During general opening hours tickets can’t be booked in advance, however there are special booked sessions each Tuesday evenings.  Tickets for this can be booked at http://www.themuseumofsomerset.ticketsource.co.uk.  There is also a special ‘adults only’ evening on Wednesday 16th September.