A Grand Day Out in Derby

I had a trip to Derby last week, to visit two temporary exhibitions. The first was at Pickford’s House Museum on Friar Gate and told the story of the Pentrich Revolution in 1817. This has long been an interest of mine; it was the subject of my dissertation.

It’s a small exhibition, in one of the upstairs rooms, but very interesting and it tells the story well. It was good to reacquaint myself with some of the original documents that I used as reference material. The most gruesome exhibit is the original execution block.; best not dwell on that I think!

The exhibition is on until the 9th September 2017.

Following this I wandered over to the Silk Mill Museum which stands on the bank of the River Derwent, behind the Cathedral (along Amen Alley). The museum is closed at the moment undergoing a major renovation, but what I really wanted to see was the display Poppies: Weeping Window – 

Weeping Window is a cascade comprising several thousand handmade ceramic poppies seen pouring from a high window to the ground below; Wave is a sweeping arch of bright red poppy heads suspended on towering stalks. These two sculptures, by artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper, marking the centenary of the outbreak of war, are now brought to audiences at venues across the country by 14-18 NOW as part of the Poppies tour. As with all 14-18 NOW projects, the presentation of these sculptures to new audiences across the UK aims to prompt a new, nationwide dialogue around the legacy of the First World War.

The breath-taking sculptures were initially conceived as the key dramatic sculptural elements in the installation Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red at the Tower of London in the summer and autumn of 2014. Over the course of their time at the Tower, the two sculptures were gradually surrounded by a vast field of ceramic poppies, each one planted by a volunteer in memory of the life of a British and Colonial soldier lost during the First World War. In their original setting they captured the public imagination and were visited by over five million people.

It was impressive and quite moving; inside the museum people had left cards with their thoughts and also in memory of family members lost in the First World War. It was also great to see so many people there.

The display has now finished and is moving to Cardiff, opening on the 8th August 2017. It’s well worth catching if it appears near you.


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