Day of Special Interest – Monday 14th October 2019

A very interesting day was enjoyed by our members and guests on Monday 14th October at The Arthur Morison Memorial Hall, Cucklington when lecturer Anne Haworth gave us some excellent talks about The Silk Road, China’s Windows on the World.

The new venue seems to have gone down well with our members who appreciated the lovely hall and facilities. Let us hope for better weather for the March event so that we can open up all those lovely glass doors and venture out onto the terrace for our coffee and lunch breaks!

With the use of some old maps shown on the big screen, Anne showed us just how extensive the Silk Road routes were and she also showed us some of the many goods that were exchanged along the routes both by sea and through the desert from Ancient times, through the Middle Ages and the European Renaissance, into the 19th Century. We learnt how the Silk Road was named in 1877 by Ferdinand von Richthofen, a well-known German geographer and how the movement of goods were affected at times by the different Rulers of countries that they had to pass through.

As always, this was a very sociable day and we were very well looked after by our caterer Donna and her helpers who served up lots of tea, coffee and biscuits as well as a delicious seated lunch. It’s always good to hear the great buzz of conversations going on around the hall during the coffee breaks and lunch on these days and we look forward to the next Day of Special Interest which will be held on Monday 16th March 2020 when lecturer Rosamund Bartlett will be talking about St. Petersburg.

Penny Brentnall

Mosaic Update

The Hinton St Mary Mosaic

A meeting by invitation only was held on 2 Aug 19 in the Pitt Rivers Tithe Barn at Hinton St Mary (HSM) and organised by The Rev David Dunning and Shane Johnstone. Pauline Batstone, Chair of the new unitary authority for Dorset, chaired the meeting. About 30 people attended, mostly from Hinton St Mary but also included two Sturminster Newton (SN) town councillors and SN Museum volunteers.

Jill Cooke, a curator of the British Museum (BM) gave a presentation on the Mosaic and its proposed relocation from London to Dorset. She explained its national importance in both archaeological and religious contexts. She stated that it had been decided by the Trustees of the BM that the Dorset County Museum (DCM) was to be the location of the Mosaic subject to a confirmatory feasibility study and that SN was unsuitable due to its poor infrastructure and lack of a professional curator. She said there were also significant risks in locating it to SN such as the financial implications after opening, sustaining a continuing high footfall of visitors and possibly not meeting National Lottery criteria.

She also stated that if there was any dissent from SN about the BM’s decision it might result in the Trustees of the BM not relocating the Mosaic to Dorset.

Included in the relocation of the Mosaic to Dorset was the idea of having a self funded visitor attraction in SN which could include artefacts from the DCM and also a funded research project in HSM to determine the extent of Roman occupation in the village. Jill Cooke asked for names of those who could assist in drawing up the concept for the visitor attraction. No location or size of the attraction in SN was suggested.

When questioned about the central roundel* of the Mosaic, which is periodically sent out on tour to other museums, Jill Cooke admitted ownership would be retained by the BM for this purpose and a replica would be exchanged into the Mosaic after the original had been in situ at the DCM for approximately two years.

There was a show of hands towards the end of the meeting which showed support by the invitation only audience for the Mosaic to be located in Dorchester. However, no other site such as SN was offered as an alternative and few SN inhabitants were at the meeting.

On Tue 8 Oct 19 at the committee meeting of the  Arts Society Blackmore Vale it was decided not be involved with the move of the Mosaic to the DCM. Support, if the SN museum agreed, would be given to this museum to develop a Roman Room and  the inclusion of a replica of the roundel.

*It is considered that the roundel is of international importance as it shows the first depiction of Christ. See featured image. The Sturminster Newton Museum and Mill Society has now changed its name to Sturminster Newton Heritage Society. In November 19 The Society wrote to the BM asking if it could have a replica roundel and has received an enthusiastic response.

Day of Special Interest – Lee Miller and Roland Penrose 18th March 2019

Members and guests enjoyed another very successful day at Charlton Hall near Shaftesbury when Mr. Antony Penrose visited us to talk about his parents, the legendary Lee Miller and her husband Roland Penrose.  The talks were outstanding and at times quite moving, we were shown some fascinating photographs which had been taken by Lee, and her artistic friends from 1930s -1970s. We learnt about Roland’s work as a surreal artist and Lee’s work as a fashion model, then her progression to a fashion and fine art photographer.  During the Second World War Lee became a war correspondent for Vogue, covering events such as The London Blitz, the liberation of Paris and the horrors of the Nazi concentration camps.  Lee’s childhood had been blighted by abuse and after her experiences during the war she suffered from clinical depression and post traumatic stress disorder, but eventually battled her way through to a calmer life becoming a gourmet cook and providing photographs for her husbands biographies on Picasso and other artists. As always, this was a very sociable day with everyone chatting, getting to know other members and discussing the talks over a delicious lunch.

Golden Lecture

To celebrate 50 years of support of Young Arts by The Arts Society we sponsored two lectures in local comprehensive schools. Given by highly qualified Arts Society lecturers these lectures gave year 12 and 13 students an opportunity to step outside the curriculum and learn about and appreciate the arts.