Thursday, 24 September 2009

David - Apprentice II

A week in and I have all ready got my first comment, (in the first week!)
I have just about mastered the first part of managing a museum. Using a till! But to be honest I have allot more different sections to work on. The different sections I have mastered are:-

- Open doors too the public.
- Do the float for the till.
- Open the gallery.
- Hover and sweep the floor.
- Open till and stock up shop.

For the passed few days I have been on the till sorting out customers, and stocking the shop with the help of a colleague, (Barbara).
And at the end of each day I learn the importance of locking up and closing the museum making sure we haven’t locked anyone inside.


Whalebones were often a feature of the farm gateway in the Ryedale area. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, many farmers sons would go to sea with the whaling ships from the local ports such as whitby. The whalebones erected on the farm gateway were like a badge of honour, to show you had relatives at sea whaling. Please have a look at a previous blog post about a local man Wiliam Stockell, amongst his many adventures he spent time whaling.

Jonathan Severs, B.A (Hons)

Apprentice - David

Being the Ryedale Folk Museum’s new Apprentice is ACE.
I’ve learned in my three days so far to deal with the customers that enter and leave the grounds. Working on the till dealing with money as well as the admissions for the public. I have also learnt about the gallery and the different sections of art we do. I have been shown how to open the ‘ Fat Betty’s CafĂ© ’ and I have been able to study with the help of the crew and customers, some education of the museum before I even knew of its existence.
I have even been given the pleasure to stock up the shop and use the labelling gun to do some pricing of the gifts that we sell and I had been given the opportunity ( which I choose to do so ) to organise the store room which took up allot of A, effort and B, time.
I am helping with the ordering and the orders of gifts in the shop and the office.
With the help of the team I’m sure I can cope.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Iron Age To Twentieth Century

Where could you go in a museum and see activities from completely different eras within yards of each other? Ryedale Folk Museum, of course. We had an excellent group of iron age re-enactors who were demonstrating different crafts from the period. These included wood-turning, pottery, weaving and textiles.

Today, volunteers and staff were treated to a lovely dinner of stew, cottage pie, beetroot, and jacket spuds. Us blokes were even lucky enough to get a pint of Black Sheep. For afters - if you had room, was a smashing apple crumble and cream. Thanks very much to everyone who prepared that lovely meal.

After dinner we got busy harvesting the cornfield. We got off to a slow start due to the weather, it was very overcast and drizzly before dinner, but we got the field done with the binder and stooked the sheaves. The binder probably dates from the 1940's, a Sunshine Massey Harris from Australia, and the tractor used to pull it is a MF 135 from the 1970's.

Jonathan Severs

Thursday, 10 September 2009

In Search Of Ordinaryness...North America + Canada

Mike Benson here letting you know how I get on with my research trip In The Search of Ordinaryness...I'm looking for people and institutions that just do good work everyday to the point it becomes everyday..ordinary..not average..Where the gap between what they say and what they do is minimal..where everyone gets what they are about..where they are (my favorite word) surefooted. This research trip is the final part of my Clore Fellowship

I'm off to British Columbia to a place called Bella Bella to stay with Harvey Humchitt and his wife. I'm also going to visit New York, Boston and Chicago!
More to follow
Bella Bella. 22 Sep 2009
It is around 14:00 hrs Canadian Pacific time. I’ve just got of the plane in a place called Bella Bella home of the Heiltsuk in British Columbia after travelling for 40 hours. On the plane was a woman and her teenage son, her bag had on a great first nation design with the words Heiltsuk honouring our women. I gather from her conversation she is going to a funeral.

The airport is tiny and it’s really really raining. I’m met by Harvey Humchitt who is one of four chiefs of the Heiltsuk and his wife Brenda. I had met Harvey at a conference in Austria aiming to increase the sharing world wide of cultural objects. Harvey has a good-sized boat and Brenda is the principal of the school.

There are around 1400 people live in Bella, around 1300 are first nation. Brenda has nipped out of school to pick me up there is to be a sponsored run that every school in Canada takes part in raising money for cancer but she’s going to postpone it, the weather is that bad.

I’m told I’m going straight onto Harvey’s boat, a prominent member of the community has died, Harvey is taking the family across to an Island out at sea called Grave Island.
First stop bread, beef and salad in case anyone wants to eat, I’m struck by the folk shopping, all have a mix of Canadian flag and or Heiltsuk design on their clothing. The girl stacking the shelves has a fleece on with the words Heiltsuk proud of who we are. This place is no tourist trap.

Harvey knocks me up a proper doorstop sandwich and a coffee you could chew on. The gravediggers go on ahead in a 3-man boat as we set off. I meet the family that want to travel. We have 7 people on board and the boat is full. The weather is really bad; Harvey has real trouble just getting the boat from the pier as the wind keeps pushing him back.

We set off with the remains of Deanna Muriel Lawson. Deanna who was not of first nation heritage had come to Bella Bella as a young nurse and had a massive impact on that community. She married Chester Lawson a high school teacher. Her Eulogy written by Pauline Waterfall talks of her roots. This is a constant in Bella Bella everyone talks about their roots. ‘’Deanna’s roots included Danish roots through her mother and English ties to Devon through her father. She was proud of this heritage, while embracing and accepting the Heiltsuk roots into which she was adopted and married. She was always respectful and accepting of her husbands culture and ways, knowing that this added to the richness of their children’s multicultural inheritance.’ Harvey explained later how Deanna had been adopted by a family that means wolf as a mark of respect. Being adopted was real and they became a normal member of that family.

I talk on the boat to the lady from the plane, she’s called Shannon. She tells me how she has not been back to Bella Bella for 17 years as she now lives in Vancouver. She tells me her son comes up to canoe camps where they canoe along the coast stopping and hearing stories’ it’s a great way to keep him connected to who he is.’

There is a big political storm in the region; I’d read about it in the paper on the plane. In a more remote reservation where around 1000 first nation folk live further up the coast there was only limited medical support for 3 days. The regional authority in response to the swine flu epidemic had sent a planeload of body bags rather than further medical support. This has of course sparked real anger and drives the conversation a while as we head towards Grave Island. Harvey points out the eagle’s nests in the trees on the Island as we approach. Deanna is to be buried along side grand parents from her adopted family, another great mark of respect.

A young family member had been taken off timetable to make the cross that would mark the grave in the schools design and technology department.

I ask Harvey about the politics. Its much better now, we do have a voice and in law we must be consulted. He then tells me though that the huge logging firm had wanted to flatten part of the forest that was of great cultural value to The Heiltsuk. They were consulted with and it ended up with the government commissionaire crying in Harvey’s house saying there was nothing he could do the loggers had been formally given permission to log. The loggers never came however and it had remained a mystery until Harvey was invited to a big environmentalist conference. It would seem Harvey who had continued as expected to fight the loggers wrote to the buyers of the wood in Europe. He set out the cultural importance of the forest to his community in his letter and it was the buyers who stopped the logging! Harvey’s tactics celebrated at the conference.

That evening it is Deanna’s settlement feast. The sports hall is booked and full of folk. Everyone cooks and contributes money. The money is then dished out by Deanes family to pay for all kinds of expenses from grave diggers to family that have travelled but most goes to the community through donations to school and to the cancer charities. There is a huge banner with designs representing eagles and whales with the red ribbon representing the fight against cancer.

Chester, Deanna’s husband talks about their life and invites various family members to come and talk about their memories. I’m sat on the table with the chiefs and feel privileged to be at the feast. Chester then invites me to speak and explain why I’m here a real unexpected honour.

One of the chiefs finishes off the evening talking about how proud he is of his people and how politics are now redundant and it is through community that people are most powerful. That this sense of community and the ways of expressing this sense of community are what has been handed down from their ancestors. He talks a lot about values and connects them to their shared sense of who they are. Harvey invites him to come fishing with us tomorrow; I’m hoping he can come.
Finally, there is an announcement that there is a cougar in the village, this is unheard of they normally stay in the forest; there is plenty to eat and no reason for them to come into the village. At another settlement children have been attacked with one killed. With a warning to keep children safe the feast is ended and we all pour out of the sports hall and go home. I’ve been in Bella Bella for 7 hours now and I now know why I’ve come.

Harvest Day Sunday 13th September 2009

Come and see the binder in action on Sunday at Ryedale Folk Museum. We will be pulling the P.T.O driven binder with one of the museum's collection of tractors. After the wheat is harvested the corn will be stooked and left to dry, then put in the shed until October when it will be threshed. The video below is from a similar binder in Carnew, Ireland.

Jonathan Severs

Thursday, 3 September 2009

World War 2

RFM 2006.11.84

Most people will have heard in the media that it is 70 years since Germany invaded Poland. Everyone has a relative who took part in the war, and Ryedale Folk Museum is no exception. Bert Frank, the museum founder had a brother called Christopher (Kit) who perished in 1943 aged 25.

Jonathan S

Morris Minor Rally 6th September

This is a video of a half size Morris Minor Pickup powered by a 125cc Kawasaki engine.

Morris Minors, very nostalgic cars, will be at the museum in force on Sunday 6th September. Come and have a look at these lovely vehicles.

The image above, from: will maybe go faster than the traditional model...

Jonathan S