The Centenarian Visitor

A Centenarian visitor joined the creative team at the McManus Galleries yesterday. Mr. Allan Whatley; is 104 years old, born in 1913, at Boscombe, near Bournemouth. Mr. Whatley is the oldest visitor to join ‘The People’s Story’. A new resident to Dundee, having only moved here last week and this was his first visit to the ‘McManus’.

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Mr. Whatley has had many different jobs during his career including, Librarian and Author of a book called ‘Whiskey, the Left-handed Dog’. He took great interested in the Gothic design of the McManus building after discovering it once housed Dundee’s public library. He thought the architectural style was very grand and the vaulted ceiling of the Albert Hall was rather impressive.

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The creative team, Sharron, and Kim enjoyed re-telling the stories connected to the Tay Whale and Mr. Whatley found the sculpture of ‘Oor Artifact’ to be rather curious, he even participated in a little weaving while telling us his own stories of his wife who enjoyed weaving and quilting.

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When asked what’s the secret to living a long life? He advised exercise and diet, as he is a vegetarian who played a lot of tennis in his younger days. Before going home, Mr. Whatley told us he had enjoyed his visit to the museum and had learned something new about Dundee’s past and a little about its people.

The Ship Models are ‘Batten Down’

The ship models are ‘Batten down’.[1]

Dundee, Caledon and the Gourlay,

constructed the Tay’s floating crown.

 

The skilled and well-trained creators.

Drillers, engineers, and foundry workers,

hold memories of boilermakers.

 

The sailors in search for the whale.

Fisherman, sea captains, and the crew,

so many whalers were built to sail.

 

The Privateer[2] will prey to pursue.

Fore, Main Mizzen and the Spanker,

even a Bumboat[3] is here to view.

 

The industrial world of pride and concern.

Shipbuilders, shipmasters, and the owners,

inspecting their keels from bow to stern. [4]

 

The Beam end boats for your observation.

Skysail, Mainsail[5] and the Topgallant,

a legacy of Dundee’s shipping nation.

By Lise Olsen

 

The ship models have arrived at their final destination and can be viewed in the new permanent exhibition at the McManus Galleries.

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When I visited the exhibition, the display transported my mind to a magnificent vision of a fleet of ships, floating upon the Tay Estuary. The detail in each model shows off, the skill and craftsmanship needed to create such detailed objects. In Dundee, shipbuilding needed many Maritime related trades and different skills to build an actual ship, here is a list of just a few. [6]

Rope and Sail Makers

Carvers and Gilders

Tin Plate Workers

Wood Merchants

Iron Merchants

Ship Chandlers

Wire Workers

Electricians

Stevedores

Engineers

Tallymen

Joiners

Listen to a story about a Caledon apprentice engineer by clicking the link below.

To find out more about Dundee’s shipping history and the Ship Models exhibition, visit the McManus Galleries, early May 2017. (Free admission)

Please note: Audio file is on loan from the Cultural Services Oral History.

[1] ‘Batten down’ means make secure[1] “Archibald, M (1999). Sixpence for the Wind. Caithness: Whittles Publishing. P138-140

[2] ‘Privateer is a Private vessel licensed to attack ships of opposing nation” Archibald, M (1999). Sixpence for the Wind. Caithness: Whittles Publishing. P138-140

[3] “Bumboat carried waste from ships and brought back provisions” ibid

[4] “The Stern is the Backbone of a ship” ibid

[5] “Mainsail is the largest sail” ibid

[6] Robertson, H. (2009). DUNDEE SHIPBUILDERS. Available: http://ninetradesofdundee.co.uk/download/mariners_&_seamen/historic_extracts/2009%20Dundee%20Shipbuilders.pdf. Last accessed 6th May 2017.

These Splendid Ships

These splendid ships, each with her grace, her glory,

Her memory of old song or comrade’s story,

Still in my mind the image of life’s need,

Beauty in hardest action, beauty indeed. [1]

By John Masefield

The beautiful model ships conserved and stored at the McManus Collections unit in Dundee have now embarked upon a new voyage. Destined for a new display in the Albert Hall at the McManus Galleries.

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Bishop’s Move, a removal, and international shipping service ascended upon the unit at Barrack Street, to oversee the final voyage. The models had been packed carefully into boxes while other large models were carried by hand onto a bright yellow lorry. The museum staff Becky and Carly watched apprehensively, hearts racing as the fragile glass display cases were moved from their safe spaces. Each model was destined to travel adjacent to the flow of  River Tay to Noth Sea, roughly 300 yards to the gallery, in blustery windy conditions.

The Tay Estuary has seen many great ships built and launched, from high-quality wooden vessels, sailing barques and iron steamships. All built by local shipbuilders including David Livie and Sons, Alexander Stephen and Sons, Gourley Bros and Caledon. Each ship produced from Dundee’s past carried a tale to tell and by clicking the link below you can hear a ship launch story.

The Ship Models new permanent exhibition will be ready for visitor’s inspection at the magnificent Albert Hall in the McManus Galleries, early May 2017.

 

Please note: Audio file is on loan from the Cultural Services Oral History.

[1] Monroe, H & Henderson, A. ed. (1918). The New Poetry, An Anthology. New York: The MacMillan Company. P200-202.

Khalkha Mongol Headdress

A story about the restoration of a Khalkha Mongol Headdress (pre-1900), loaned to the McManus Galleries in Dundee by L J Miller (1931).[1]

The Khalkha Mongol Headdress has been selected, restored and cared for by the McManus. The conversation reveals an object expressing meaning beyond its physical presence within the history of specific events; Mongolian trade routes, craftsmanship and the possible design influence of a headdress worn in Star Wars, Episode 1: The Phantom Menace.

The vocal sound creates meaning found outside language and the spoken word.[2] Inside our perception, the vocal sound allows you to hear the affect the headdress’s journey has had, on the speaker’s feelings.

“Feelings may also link feelings, and this superimposed relationship leads us to an in-between of in-betweens…”[3].

What we hear in tone and vocal expression reveals emotion. To listen and contemplate to the story, bridges us between our personal and shared feelings towards treasured objects. Binaural microphones were used to create an intimate listening experience, locating us in-between the self and the other. And the reverberating sounds of space in the museum, places us from our physical location to the museum, in-between here and there.

[1] Uknown author and date. Khalka headdress. Available: http://www.mcmanus.co.uk/content/collections/database/khalka-headdress. Last accessed 6th Feb 2017.

[2] “… as Ricoeur says, meaning or significance is already both perception and word.” Ihde, D. (2007). Listening and voice: Phenomenologies of sound. 2nd ed. Albany: State University of New York Press. P148

[3] Asenjo, F. G. (1988). In-between : an essay on categories, Center for Advanced Research in Phenomenology & University Press of America, Washington, D.C P139

Introducing ‘The People’s Story’

I have recently started  (a Making the Most of Masters) student placement at the McManus, Dundee’s Art Gallery and Museum. Working on a project called ‘The People’s Story’, running as part of a programme organized by the museum’s Learning & Engagement Team to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the McManus. The project will explore the relationship between Dundee’s diverse communities, the museum and its collections.

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The McManus already has an established form of engagement with a wide range of groups, trustees and communities. Each group engages with the museum in a different way and I would like to consider, what is normal? How do these different audiences normally engage with the museum, the gallery space and interpretation of its artifacts?

Beginning a project is always a daunting task but I’m happy to be working with a fellow student, Stuart McAdam and the creative learning team.  To begin my journey, I have decided to treat it like a walk. ‘The People’s Story’ will allow for an exploration into the relationships between city and the museum. Giving me the resources to collect stories about Dundee and to continue my research, into the dynamic engagement of public and private spaces, using similar methodologies from previous projects involving the tramlines and edgelands of Dundee.

***

Quite unexpectedly, my first visit involved being followed by a Seagull who seemed to be heading in the same direction, the McManus, Dundee’s Art Gallery and Museum.

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My initial walk through the McManus was to observe the building, space and collections.

Everyday objects from seemingly insignificant past events have just as much validation as an object from a significant historical event.

I noticed the reflections of objects, being mirrored upon the glass of the display cabinets. This reminded me of the process of memory and how people’s stories could place new memories, upon old memories projecting, spatially into a fourth dimension.[1] I wondered if a soundscape of stories collected around and about the McManus could also project into a new dimension.

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I considered how a walk around a gallery, allowed the place to suggest appropriate sounds. I felt a sense of urgency moving in-between emotions and happenings. A sonic signature is an in-between space where the place is the symbol and the sound, the meaning.[2] The sound of a museum creates an in-between awareness. How people feel in the museum, or about its historical objects, could add something unique to our perception of the McManus and within that thought I found a new line of direction.

[1] “the process is that of continually compounding one and the same topomnesiacal resource.” Casey, E.S. (2002) Representing place: Landscape painting and maps. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.p77

[2] “Thus for the poet in his ecstasy- or perhaps, agony- of the composition the trees are the symbols and the words are the meaning. He concentrates on the trees in order to get the words.” A.N Whitehead (1985). Symbolism: Its Meaning and Effect. New York: Fordham University Press. P12.

copyright © Olsen 2017

The Useless Gate

The useless gate with no point of entry encloses nothing. No longer approving entry or exit to flow. It stands easily in front of its past barricade and absent without its fence, what nonsense.

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Still, my thoughts invade the space with an intensive survey of neglect. Without a barrier, it creates a bewildering pause; I even relax and unwind a little in the freshness of an invisible edge.

The gate still interrupts here and there, now and then. I begin to walk through space without the cliché of place, allowing a moment to contemplate on ever-changing times, tides, and light.

copyright © Olsen 2016

Disobeys Restriction

I imagine the city connects infinite layers of networks to defy.

Shaping the superficial modern metropolis by placing social fabric onto stitched architectural frames.

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“I operate as a man-machine interface.”[1]

The cyborg self within me emerges along the cities edges,

I hack the surface of space configurations.

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I am the seeking stranger of urban life who needs to disobey restriction;

feeling disconnected in a rebellious reunion of public and private outlines.

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I wander off the ordered path and find a more uncertain line of direction.

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copyright © Olsen 2016

[1] “I operate as a man-machine interface – that is, as a technological form of natural life – because I must necessarily navigate through technological forms of social life. As technological nature, I must navigate through technological culture. And technological culture is constitutively culture at a distance. Forms of life become forms of life at-a-distance. Because my forms of social life are so normally and chronically at-a-distance, I cannot navigate these distances, I cannot achieve sociality apart from my machine interface” Lash, S (2002). Critique of Information. London: Sage Publications. P15.