Page 9 - EGO Magazine June 2019
P. 9

local // lleol  Shutterstock.com  /  Lukas Gojda                          local // lleol










       “The red                     juxtaposed against the snarling   Wales and the lives of those who inhabit
                                                                 it have always been a rich source of
                                    taxidermy. It is striking contrasts
       velvet                       such as these that breathe life into a   inspiration for him. He enjoys driving
                                                                 around Ceredigion and getting to know
                                    museum. Stuart mentioned that there
       seats of the                 were over sixty-thousand objects in   the people who live in its unique spaces.
       auditorium                   the museum’s care. ‘The most weird   It’s a landscape that he always wants to
                                                                 be surrounded by. For him, Aberystwyth
                                    and wonderful would have to be the
 The Designer of   were torn and    stuffed double-head of a calf; a thatched   is the centre of the world.
                                    cottage; jewellery made of human
                                                                   What, then, is the role of museums
       greasy with
                                                                 in modern society? For Stuart, they are
                                    hair; two floating witches curses; a
                                    skeleton from Aberystwyth castle;
                                                                 vital assets for understanding our past,
 Displays By Paddy   age, as were   miniature carved nuts; a fossilised fig;   present, and future. ‘If we take our time
                                                                 and look carefully at the skills of the
                                    a pair of divination spoons; and the
       the curtains
                                                                 past, at the way people have lived and
                                    teeth of the first curator!’ My curiosity
 O’Malley  which hung               piqued, I asked him what the museum   solved problems, and how people have
                                    looked out for when acquiring items.
                                                                 worked and lived together as a society,
       over the exit
                                                                 then we might be able to improve our
                                    The original policy, he explained, had
       doors.”                      been to source objects relevant to life   own way of life. Change does seem to
                                    in Ceredigion. As time went on, this
                                                                 happen so fast.’
                                    evolved into an increasingly inclusive   Today, the museum hosts a range of
                                    approach to history: the broader remit   events of which, I’m sure, David Phillips
 met Stuart Evans in May as   to marketing. Back then, the museum   scene of a castle, presumably from a play   of ‘human activity’. The museum   would be proud. The programme
 he prepared to retire from   was located in a house on the corner of   or an opera. Piles of old posters littered   acquires items at such a rate that it has   consists of films, a folk club, yoga, plays,
 Ceredigion Museum. Many   Vulcan Street. In 1982, it moved to the   the attic, some of which are still stuck   been forced to strategize around storage   opera, and live jazz, to name but a few
 readers will know him from   Coliseum where it resides to this day.   to the rafters above the stage.’ Stuart   geological and archaeological artefacts   and accessibility. Its commitment to   of the many activities which draw in
 his long association with the   The Coliseum was built in 1904 by   captured this dilapidation in a series   unearthed in Ceredigion.  the effective care and safety of the   people from all over the County. Stuart
 I Museum. What they might   David Phillips to supply the lively holiday  of photographs. They were taken on a   Of the third and present-day curator,   collection can sometimes mean that it is   reminded me that the museum also now
 not know is that he has been working   resort of Aberystwyth with variety acts   Pentax ME Super that a friend at the   Carrie Canham, Stuart said: ‘For me,   unable to accept new items, even when   boasts a fully functioning bar! What
 there for over forty years. For me, his   and short picture shows. Stuart recalled   BBC had lent him. He allowed me to   Carrie seems like a recent addition to   they tick all the boxes.  are his thoughts about the range of
 departure represented the end of an   his first impressions of the building in   flick through his album, leaving me in no   the museum, but she has already clocked   Stuart’s fascination for historical   activities at the Museum? ‘In the 1930s’
 era, but also an irresistible opportunity   1979: steeped in history and yet to be   doubt of his skill as a photographer.  up a few years!’ She became curator in   objects complements his passion for   he said, ‘the Coliseum became a full-
 to interview him about his professional   polished into the space we know today.   Stuart has worked under three   2012. Her curatorial successes have been   print-making. ‘Many of my lino prints   time super Cinema, run by a Mr and Mrs
 life. Over mugs of coffee, it soon became   ‘There were pigeons flying around the   curators during his time at the Museum.   numerous, not least among them the   have been inspired by my experiences   Gale. Following the untimely death of
 clear that his recollections were myriad,   auditorium and the upper floor windows   The first was Dr. John Owen who was   opening of the Heritage Lottery Fund   at the museum. I’ve also been fortunate   her husband, Mrs Olive Gale continued
 and that I’d be pushed to condense   were smashed. The projection box had   originally from Aberystwyth and began   café and the new Tourist Information   to have worked with people who’ve   to run it, and the establishment adopted
 them into one short interview. I was   clips of old films and spools of 35mm   work in July 1972. Owen had a special   Centre. These developments have   encouraged my enthusiasm for print-  the motto “Amusement without
 relieved, therefore, to discover that he   celluloid film spilling out over beer   interest in textiles and for most of   made the Museum more visible from   making.’ One example, he recalled, was   vulgarity”.’ He flashed a grin. ‘We still
 saw his forthcoming retirement as an   bottles and old Bakelite records.’ The   his life had worked in the Manchester   the street and there has been an   when ex-assistant curator, Gwenllian   stand by that’.
 opportunity to set his life down on paper   projectionist had been notorious for   cotton industry studying ‘the twist   increase in visitor numbers since they   Ashley, saw the potential of printing   Stuart plans to occupy part of
 – if he could find the time.  setting the reel in motion and then   in thread’. His legacy lives on in the   opened. ‘We have become a social hub   his work on items sold in the shop.   his retirement writing, and possibly
 Stuart came to Aberystwyth   crossing the road to the pub. If the   museum’s collection of local time pieces,   in Aberystwyth. Many of those who   Although he’d hesitated initially, the   illustrating, a book of untold stories
 because his partner had enrolled at   machine began to malfunction then he   for which he had a great passion. The   might not ordinarily have visited a   placemats, coasters, postcards and mugs   about the Museum.  It may take some
 the University. He began to work at   had to be called back.   second curator was Michael Freeman   museum now feel that the Coliseum is   all ended up selling well. ‘I think that   time to produce, he confides: ‘I’ve
 the museum in 1976 as an attendant,   ‘The red velvet seats of the auditorium  who took up the post in 1991. Michael   somewhere familiar and comfortable.’  this is because they related directly to   started trying to cobble together all of
 and by the following year he had   were torn and greasy with age, as were   was responsible, amongst other things,   As we discussed the history of the   the collection and the history of the   my memories, but they’re difficult to
 become its technician and designer of   the curtains which hung over the exit   for the introduction of computers and   museum, I recalled first impressions   County. They made the Museum shop   structure coherently. It might just have
 displays. As the years went by, Stuart’s   doors. The gold stage curtains were   digital cataloguing. His training as an   of the space as a teenager. My most   very individual. Very Ceredigion.’ Stuart   to be that some of the facts and details
 role became increasingly diverse; he   stained with rust marks and the back   archaeologist lead him to set up the   vivid memory was of being struck by   has a deep appreciation for the area in   get mixed up a bit. But then all stories
 undertook everything from cataloguing   wall of the stage was painted with a   Bowen Gallery, which to this day exhibits   the meticulously preserved bodices   which we live. The landscape of mid-  are a bit like that, aren’t they?’


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