Tag Archive: museum

WP_20141125_16_37_04_ProLa Piscine otherwise known as the  Musée d’Art et d’Industrie André Diligent or Le musée d’Art et d’Industrie de la ville de Roubaix (let’s stick with La Piscine), is a wonderful reinvention of an Art Deco Swimming Pool in Roubaix, northern France as an art gallery and museum. I had the great pleasure of visiting it recently whilst on a long weekend in the area.

The Museum itself with its clever conversion retaining hints of the building’s previous use was a  delight- I loved the central pool with fountain head surrounded by a new, beautifully finished dark wooden floor, together with the regular playing of a soundtrack from a swimming pool! It also holds a wonderfully rich mixture of items on display- sculpture, paintings, textiles, photographs, glass and ceramics etc.- many displayed in what were once the changing cubicles of the swimming pool!

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The swimming pool was constructed between 1927 and 1932 but closed in 1985, and was then remodelled as a museum, opening in 2000. A modern entrance building, special exhibition space and garden were constructed within the roof-less shell of an adjoining textile factory.

The museum’s permanent collection has its origins in 1835, when a collection of fabric samples from the many local textile factories was started. The collection was seen as a way of cultivating the tastes of the town’s workers, foremen and manufacturers. To this end it combined elements of literature, fine-arts, science and industrial products. The museum previously housing the collection closed with the onset of War in 1939, and never reopened. From 1990 the collections were displayed in Roubaix’s town hall, in preparation for the opening of La Piscine in 2000.

Old School Gardener

Further Information:  Museum Website

curiosity corner gfw

 ‘Curiosity Corner’ – a garden I (with help), created for under 5’s to explore at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse, Norfolk

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old salem museums and gardens via p.allen smith


‘Diagonal Veg’ at Old Salem Museums and Gardens via P. Allen Smith

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gressenhall wildlife gardenHere’s a video featuring some of the gardening volunteers (including yours truly) and the gardens at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse Museum, Norfolk. The next couple of months will be quiet in the gardens, but we’re recruiting now for anyone who can spare some time and expertise (basic gardening skills plus) to help maintain and evelop this wonderful resource!

Leave a comment or contact me on nbold@btinternet.com

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Thanks for reading this, my 1000th post on Old School Garden. I’ll do a fuller review of my blogging experience on my first anniversary on 17th December. But for now I hope that you enjoy my review of an interesting garden in Portugal.

A little off the beaten track in one of Lisbon’s northern suburbs (Lumiar), sit the Gardens of Monteiro Mor (this translates as ‘the High Huntsman of the Royal House’ refering to one of the former grand residents).They come with not one, but two bonuses – small, but fascinating museums, one focusing on Portuguese Theatre and the other Costume.

The surrounding gardens are a very engaging mix of formal, botanical display and wilder woodland walks – all very pleasant on a warm autumn day. And there are a number of curious sculptures to see en route too, along meandering paths and steps which take you to a variety of water features and through glades of mixed, mature trees and shrubs.

Interestingly, a communal food growing area seems to have been created on the edge of the parkland, and we also were lucky enough to see a wide range of flowers on display when we visited.

The museums, housed in two former grand houses a few paces from each other, are very well laid out. The Theatre Museum comes stocked with a huge array of printed and pictorial material along with theatre models, sculpture and theatrical props (including some lovely puppets and larger costume displays).

No need for much in the way of interpretation here as the visual richness speaks for itself!

The Costume Museum is an altogether more restrained affair, with displays of clothes and accessories from different periods set off wonderfully in the elegantly decorated rooms of the former palace. Varied lighting levels and effects and a nicely uncluttered feel all contributed to a beautiful wander though time.

This became especially interesting when we reached the 1960’s and more recent displays, which brought back some long-lost memories!

This was a visit well worth the subway ride from central Lisbon, the ‘one for all’ ticket being very good value.

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IMG_6620Whilst on holiday near St. Ives, Cornwall, recently I took the chance to visit the Tate Art Gallery – something of an ‘icon’ of the town – and the Barbara Hepworth Sculpture museum and garden. The Tate is an impressive building, but I found it a little disappointing, mainly because of it’s relatively small display areas. There are plans afoot to expand the place and that should help to further strengthen its impact.

The Hepworth Garden, by contrast was a rich, intense experience and one which, despite many visitors, I was able to enjoy on a beautiful summer’s day. The Tate website provides the following background information:

‘Barbara Hepworth first came to live in Cornwall with her husband Ben Nicholson and their young family at the outbreak of war in 1939. She lived and worked in Trewyn studios – now the Barbara Hepworth Museum – from 1949 until her death in 1975. Following her wish to establish her home and studio as a museum of her work, Trewyn Studio and much of the artist’s work remaining there was given to the nation and placed in the care of the Tate Gallery in 1980.

Finding Trewyn Studio was a sort of magic’, wrote Barbara Hepworth. ‘Here was a studio, a yard and garden where I could work in open air and space.’ When she first arrived at Trewyn Studio, Hepworth was still largely preoccupied with stone and wood carving, but during the 1950s she increasingly made sculpture in bronze as well. This led her to create works on a more monumental scale, for which she used the garden as a viewing area. The bronzes now in the garden are seen in the environment for which they were created, and most are in the positions in which the artist herself placed them. The garden itself was laid out by Barbara Hepworth with help from a friend, the composer Priaulx Rainier.’

I particularly liked the way sculpture and planting are treated as complementary, the masses, textures and forms of the plants being used to echo or contrast with those of the sculpture and vice versa. There is also an amazing sense of space in this relatively small garden, achieved by the winding, gently rising and falling  path which opens up views across the garden to the sculptures which, together with some impressive trees, bamboos and shrubs provide height which draws your eye away from the boundaries of the garden, themselves clothed in plants.

A classic design trick for smaller gardens this – using features with height inside the space to draw the eye inwards, coupled with a masking of the boundaries to convey uncertainty about where the garden begins and ends. I hope that you enjoy the photo montage I snapped on a sunny day in August.

Further information:

Tate St. Ives and Hepworth Sculpture garden website

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The Kitchen Garden at Old School Garden

The Kitchen Garden at Old School Garden

To Walter Degrasse

Dear Walter,

As I write to you on midsummer day it’s cloudy and rain threatens. We have had some warm spells and even some sunshine, but you get the feeling that ‘proper summer’ has yet to find its way to Norfolk. I know that you’ve had pretty similar weather in your neck of the woods and no doubt you’re as curious as me as to the way the ‘late’ (read almost non-existent) spring has had an impact on the plants. A few pointers from Old School Garden as I write:

  • the Magnolia is still in flower as are the Siberian Wallflowers, Pansies and Violas
  • Sweet Williams are just about coming into flower but the pink Peonies, though with huge fat flower buds, have yet to fully unfurl (having said that the earlier, red varieties have been and gone)
  • Irises are looking good (though last year’s Iris Rust problem has retuned to some)
  • Carrots and Broad beans probably need a further week or two to be fully ready for harvesting
  • Second early (but not first early) potatoes are flowering
  • Lettuces are ready to crop

So it’s a story of some things flowering late and running into other things which is making for some interesting combinations and a few weeks of intense colour; certainly the best show at this time of year I can remember for some time!

Rather than spend a lot of words telling you about my gardening activities in the last month I thought that I’d let ‘the pictures do the talking’ so I’ve included three photo galleries and will give you a few guiding comments for each. The first one is a few pictures of the Gardens at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse Museum, where the Education Garden I redesigned and with volunteer support, replanted last year is looking superb. A mass of pink and orange oriental poppies along with Salvia ‘Mainacht’  with the billowing leaves of Macleaya in the background, are putting on a wonderful show, remarked on by many visitors, it appears.

There’s a call for me to provide some information on the plants included in the borders, so I’ll have to dig out my original design and plant lists and put together some sort of illustrated guide. Likewise, after a clean out and weed, the Wildlife Garden, and especially the pond and bog areas, are filling out nicely, though there doesn’t appear to be much wildlife evident to date. Monday is going to be something special here as BBC Radio 4’s ‘Gardeners’ Question Time’ is being recorded at the Museum and I’ll be on hand to help guide the audience and provide some information on the gardens. I’m not sure when this is broadcast but I’ll let you know when I’m sure, though I know that you’re a regular listener like me.

My voluntary work at the local Primary school continues with a regular weekly slot working with groups of children of different ages in the School Garden. You may have seen my recent post on the vertical planters we’ve made out of old wooden pallets – these are looking very colourful alongside the playground and I’m pleased to say that the children are being diligent in their watering duties. I’m going over there later today so will have a quick look to see that they’re holding up – I’m not sure the compost will hold in place especially if it gets at all dry. At yesterday’s session we weeded around the various veg beds and cracked open the first pods of Broad Beans which the children eagerly popped into their mouths – once I’d assured them that they would be deliciously sweet and tender – there came  a predictable ‘hmmm, yummy’ in response!

The other crops are all coming along well, and the attention to regular weeding and watering has really paid off this year, so we should be cropping potatoes, onions, cabbages, calabrese, peas, runner and broad beans, turnips and carrots soon! The other big  job was to empty out the wooden compost bins which have been clogged up with grass, sticks and soil over the years and are in real need of starting over once more. Hopefully, we’ll get this finished off today and we can then get more of a systematic approach to adding food peelings etc. from the kitchen as well as ‘green waste’ from the school lunches. The wormery seems to be going well, and the School Cook is pleased that the refuse collectors are now collecting food waste for composting at a local centre, too.

My other Master Gardener activity is picking up a bit. I’m doing stints at the Norfolk Show next week and also an event in a nearby village where some Lottery cash looks like it’s going to make some new adult education classes possible, including something from me on growing your own food or maybe design, depending on the level of interest. I’m going along to an open day on this to gauge interest and promote both Master Gardener and the idea of the courses, so we’ll see if anything comes of that.

As far as Old School Garden goes, I’ve mentioned the great show we’ve had recently so will let the photographs give you the details! Its been a month of systematic weeding around the different borders, finishing off staking the herbaceous perennials, dead heading and recently planting out the many annuals I’ve een raising from seed to plug gaps etc. I must say I’m pleased with the result, and after visiting a few gardens recently we’ve decided to open ours for charity in mid July. I’ll let you have details in due course, but we hope to make this a lively afternoon with advice from  my friends in the Master Gardener and Master Composter projects and of course plant sales and some delicious tea and cakes!

I hope that you enjoy the picture gallery which shows a few shots of different parts of the garden taken yesterday. As I was walking around I spotted a female blackbird raiding my cold frame and carrying off some poppy seedlings (and compost) in her beak! Having seen her later in the courtyard garden I suspect she’s gathering material for a new nest! We do seem to have had a lot of Blackbirds this year and they seem intent on disturbing the wood chip mulch I put on the long borders in search of food, with the result that sweeping the paths is rapidly becoming a daily chore!

Well,  matey, I hope this little update finds you and your good lady in the best of health. It’s great that you’re now well on the road to recovery and no doubt pleased that you can get outside and dig your patch once more. Did you manage to find any paid garden help? I know that the grass cutting is your biggest nightmare and this is one thing you could do with some help on. Or maybe you might think about turning some of that grass into flowering meadow? I’ve seen some lovely examples of mown paths through long grass recently that must be less maintenance heavy and more wildlife friendly too – worth a thought.

Well, bye for now and I’ll give you a further update next month, though in the mean time I’ll do a post next week about how the recording of ‘GQT’ goes and my experiences at the Norfolk Show.

all the best

Old School Gardener

Other posts in this series:

Dear Walter….letter from Old School Garden, 20th May 2013

Dear Walter….letter from Old School Garden, 18th April May 2013

Dear Walter….letter from Old School Garden, 11th March 2013

Dear Walter… letter from Old School Garden: 15th February 2013

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The ‘Education Garden’ at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse Museum, Norfolk, was in need of a ‘refresh’. As part of my one year Heritage Garden Traineeship I came up with a new design, having consulted staff and volunteers. The agreed design was carried out in 2012 by me and other volunteers at the Museum. It features some minor adjustments to the former planting areas, terraces and grass and also includes an area designed for pre – school children, known as ‘Curiosity Corner’.

‘Curiosity Corner’ is deliberately child – sized, with a winding bark and pebble path and deep borders that sometimes rise above and fall below the path. There are living structures – a willow tunnel and two entrance arches. A ‘pebble mountain’ and a series of wooden features are complemented by a low level mirror, as well as a number of metal and wooden birds, insects, butterfly and a cat, windmills and other ‘oddities’ such as a ‘fossil slab’ set in grass and a wall mask of a ‘small friendly giant’- the idea is to provide unusual things for the the children to spot and stimulate their imaginations.

The planting is varied and includes species with interesting leaves (e.g. Stachys byzantina or ‘Lambs Ears’, ferns and grasses) and last year children planted Sunflowers which grew to an enormous height! There is also a turf seat and a half barrel water feature (complete with metal frog). The garden has now seen a full season of ‘wear and tear’ and has stood up reasonably well – it seems to have been a popular addition to the Museum. However, some adjustments are needed to prevent children accessing the inner path from the terrace, strengthening the enclosed feel of the space and replacing the turf seat which has not really withstood the wear – it has turned into a mound for running up and down rather than sitting on! These changes will be carried out soon.

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Steaming up for National Science and Engineering Week

An engineering volunteer at Gressenhall inspecting the steam boilerGressenhall Farm & Workhouse Museum, Norfolk

‘Tomorrow we’ll be warming things up and getting the fire going to steam up our engines! All to celebrate National Science and Engineering Week.

Take a look on our website to find out what a day in the life of an Engineering Volunteer involves.’

Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse

 Over the winter months, the volunteers and the Skills for the Future Library and Archive trainee have been keeping warm by re-organising the newly decorated library at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse Museum.

The library was originally started in 1976 as a resource to help staff identify objects and object histories donated to the Museum of Rural Life and the library now has a dedicated space in which researchers can have access to these resources.


Some of the items available include:

  • Farm documents including diaries, horse remedy notebooks, stud books, invoices from Norfolk farms; books, journals and magazines relating to farming and livestock


  •  Manuals for engines and farm machinery, Government publications and posters concerning agriculture, health, war and education, retail and agricultural show catalogues


  • Photographs, objects, books and printed documents relating to Agricultural Unions and George Edwards


  • Educational books and objects used in Norfolk schools, class photographs and…

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