Monday, 21 March 2016

Dragon Ball Z comes to Leeds Museums!

Creating an action adventure display

By Anawara Begum (Voices of Asia Project Placement Student)

I am a big fan of Japanese anime and Dragon Ball Z in particular. After discussion with the world cultures curator Antonia we took a proposal to the Collection Development Committee that Leeds acquire a Dragon Ball Z Cell Saga poster, along with a Goku action figure and a Frieza Pop Vinyl. They agreed and today we finalised a display arrangement in a corridor case here at Leeds Discovery Centre to showcase these new purchases.

To give more historical depth to the display we picked a Batman mask and a tiny Robin figure as an American contrast to the Pokémon Pikachu toy that is already in the collection. Pokémon was created by Satoshi Tajiri in 1995, and this franchise began as a video game. 

If you walk into Forbidden Planet in Leeds this month the Pop Vinyl figures occupy a whole wall. They are the big craze of the toy world at the moment. They include Marvel characters, as well as Japanese anime figures and even Harry Potter versions.

What is Dragon Ball Z?
Dragon Ball Z is currently the most famous and popular Japanese anime watched by millions worldwide. It was created by Akira Toriyama as a manga (graphic novel) in 1988 and the anime (animation) came out the following year. The warrior hero Goku defends Planet Earth with his friends from evil villains such as Frieza. Goku's nemesis the villain Frieza fears a rival who may surpass his own might so he blows up planet Vageta to prevent this from happening. During their battle Goku eventually beats Frieza, but never kills him. 

In Dragon Ball Z there are many storylines which take place over hundreds of episodes, drawing you in to a world of action and fantasy.

This Dragon Ball Z poster (pictured above) was acquired a few weeks ago and it shows a large number of characters alongside Goku. 

Naruto Manga on display:
As well as the Dragon Ball Z items the current display includes a Naruto manga by Masashi Kishimoto, chosen by Becky Stone. This was purchased to complement five manga already in the Leeds collections, bought for the 2001 'Tales from  Japan' exhibition. The manga was first published in 1997, and the anime first aired in Japan in 2002. Naruto is a slightly more contemporary manga and anime than Dragon Ball Z and has also has a large fan base. 

Having this manga on display in the same case will be a great way for some direct comparisons with the Dragon Ball Z Goku and Freeza figures. It is interesting that these anime have similar storylines - the main character usually fights the strongest enemy and always tries to protect their friends from harm. Both Naruto and Goku have similar traits when they are not fighting -  they just love eating and somehow get themselves into trouble. Batman and Ash from Pokémon also train to get stronger but they have different goals - they still believe in doing the right thing.

Who is Naruto?
Naruto is about a young adolescent boy who dreams of becoming the Hokage (village leader) so that he can win the respect of the whole village, as he is seen as an outcast. He always used to get into trouble in order to get noticed in a village that despised him and he never truly understood why he was seen as a pest. Through his ninja training Naruto starts to get stronger and gained the respect of his comrades. Naruto believes that by getting stronger he will be able to protect his friends. Because of his strong will eventually everyone wants to help him.

Why I love anime
Since primary school my siblings and I (especially my two brothers) have always been interested in any shows that were full with action, such as Dragon Ball Z. I used to watch the anime programmes regularly in the evening. My favourite villain was Majin Buu, a pink character that was not aware how powerful he was and loved eating! 

My younger brother is always ready with his opinions on the storylines and characters and I have discussed the acquisitions and displays with him. When I showed him photos of the new mini display he said: ‘It’s [just] ok, I won’t lie about that, I wouldn’t come to see it, it would  have been better if there was more villains’ [you need to do a much bigger and move complex display!].

We hope that anime fans and visitors who grew  up with the cartoons will get a frisson of recognition when they see the Dragon Ball Z and Naruto Manga display on show in the Voices of Asia gallery in Leeds City Museum later this year!

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Artspace on the Move

Have you ever wondered what happens when an exhibition closes? Beyond the physical packing up and sending objects on for new exhibitions or into storage, what about the impression the exhibition leaves behind? Is it a clean break, or does it linger like perfume spray?
As the opening venue for British Art Show 8 there was an energy and excitement surrounding Leeds Art Gallery and the city itself, something we are hoping to continue even after the exhibition had moved on. We have been inspired by the artists Martino Gamper and Ciara Phillips who were interested in collaborating with members of the public.

Gamper, a self-described designer, not artist, worked with local artisans and skilled craftspeople to showcase the repairing of damaged and forgotten items. This included shoe-cobblers repairing soles of shoes, book binders re-binding books, and chair caners fixing chairs. Each artisan also added a design developed by Gamper, co-producing a ‘unique piece of design’ (as it says in the exhibition catalogue).This practise strengthened a conversation within our wider community about the value of objects in our culture. It also considered the way in which we as a society have a tendency to throw things out rather than expending energy to revive them.

During the recent half-term holiday, we took pop-up activities inspired by the collaborative and transformative qualities of Gamper’s work to Leeds Trinity Kitchen. We invited families and young people to repair or bring a new life to damaged or unwanted objects. Our team were on site to encourage imagination and help realise their designs and ideas (and operate the hot glue gun!).
These pictures show their artworks ranging from books to trophies, animals to new tools. 

Basket turned in to a squid

Toy car transformed in to a butterfly and clock made in to wall-art

Toy giraffe transformed in to doll and a cardboard tube turned in to cannon
Cardboard tube and wooden letters transformed into a trophy

By Corinne Foskey, Learning Officer Intern 

Exploring the military cap badge collection

As a student from the University of Leeds, I’ve been lucky enough to undertake my placement year with Leeds Museums and Galleries. It’s been a fantastic year and it has given me so many amazing opportunities that I would not otherwise have had. This is the first in a series of blog posts detailing the various things I have been involved in.
I've been cataloguing the Museum’s collection of cap badges. There are almost 400 of them, ranging from obsolete badges which are no longer in use, to more up to date versions still seen on uniforms today.

Cataloguing includes taking photographs of objects and adding them to the database. Associated people and places must be added, as well as a description and how the object came into Leeds Museum’s collection. This can be anything from a loan to a bequest. Each object is also assigned a category. Cap badges fit into two of the pre-existing categories on the system – costume and military. Some of them also fit into First World War and Second World War. This all means that when someone needs to find an object, they can search by lots of different things, from category to date and description.

Whilst looking at the badges, I was struck by how different each one is. Some have battle honours displayed upon them, a record of the heritage of a regiment and the courage of those who have fought under that name. The battles stretch from Waterloo to the First World War, testament to how long some regiments have continued, despite any upheaval in the armed forces. There are also countless depictions of animals on badges, from dragons and tigers to horses and stags.

Artists Rifles cap badge, taken for Leeds Museums and licenced under Creative Commons BY NC SA
One of my favourite badges is that of the Artists Rifles (now the Special Air Service Regiment). The badge, designed by J.W. Wyon shows Minervra and Mars in profile – two classical figures linked to warfare. There is only one example of this particular badge in the collection. It comes from a regiment first developed as a volunteer movement and created by an art student. Some of the first recruits in the 1860s were actors, painters and even architects, along with others who were involved in creative endeavours.

However, this exclusivity did not last. Once the 1860s were over, the recruitment basis of the regiment broadened to include doctors, lawyers and other professions. Their recruitment remained more open, but they continued to attract those from the public schools and universities. During the First World War, Wilfred Owen was a member of the regiments Officer Training Corps.

Each regiment has its own badge and its own story. Each badge is a small window into a textured history that reveals something new with every subsequent look, be it an extraordinary tale of courage or a story behind the adoption of a motto.

By Laura Varley, First World War Project Placement Student

Friday, 4 March 2016

"Blind Alf" (Alfred Warrington Lodge)

Photograph of Alf Lodge in his  Leeds City Tramways, Free Pass for Blind Person
This photograph was taken for Leeds Museums and Galleries and is licensed under Creative Commons BY NC SA
This photograph was taken for Leeds Museums and Galleries
and is licensed under Creative Commons BY NC SA

Alfred Lodge was a well-known character on the streets of Leeds in the early 20th century.  He sang and played his concertina to entertain people around the Comercial Street corner of Lands Lane and in Briggate for over forty years.

At the age of nine he decided to start making his own way in life, having seen how his parents struggled to feed all their children and was determined not to be a burden on his family.  He took a whistle and Bible and began reading and playing outside Arthur’s factory.  

Once he could afford it he bought a concertina (although his obituary in 1928 mentions that on occasions “when the fates were unkind, the concertina was missing, but it was not long before “Alf” had acquired sufficient money to regain it again from the custody of the pawnbroker”).  He was also able to play the piano, harmonium and fiddle.  Above all he was noted for his  “voice of peculiarly deep timbre, which he turned to advantage in his misfortune”.  
Newspaper photograph of "Blind Alf", probably from the Yorkshire Post
This photograph was taken for Leeds Museums and Galleries
and is licensed under Creative Commons BY NC SA

This photograph was taken for Leeds Museums and Galleries
and is licensed under Creative Commons BY NC SA
Alf lost his sight three weeks after he was born.  When interviewed by the Yorkshire Evening Post on 24th November 1921 he said “I have not wanted sight, though there were things I should have liked to have seen”.

His ambition was to appear as a music-hall singer and he did make several appearances at the Leeds City Varieties, particularly in the revue “Hello! Leeds” during the First World War.

In 1922 he wrote and published a patriotic hymn called “The Call to Duty”.

In the 1921 interview he noted the changes he had witnessed in Leeds despite his lack of sight.  He noted that the noise of the streets and traffic had increased.  Horses were now almost non existent and Commercial Street had become much busier.  He had made notes of these changes in a book he had written using his braille frame.

Another change he noted is that people had become more generous (possibly as he became a familiar figure to his regular customers) and he appreciated their loyalty especially during difficult times such as the coal strike of 1913.

He appears to have been conservative in his musical tastes, learning most of his songs from opera and disliking modern fads such as ragtime!

He died of a stroke, aged 61 in 1928, and was buried in Burmantofts Cemetery.

Kitty Ross, Curator of Leeds History

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Mystery mug - the Jamaican connection

Creamware mug, early 19th century, Red Girls for Ever
This photograph was taken by Norman Taylor for Leeds Museums and Galleries
and is licensed under Creative Commons BY NC SA
This creamware mug has been part of the Leeds Museums collection since it was donated by Alderman Percival Tookey Leigh in 1933. It was originally attributed to the Leeds Pottery (as were many pieces of unmarked creamware) but recent research has discounted this theory and it may well turn out to have originated much further afield.

The mug has a transfer printed design of palm trees and the motto "Red Girls for Ever", neither of which seem to have much to do with Yorkshire history and until recently the meaning of the motto has remained a puzzle.  However recent internet research has revealed a possible answer.

The design appears to relate to the tradition of the Set Girl parades in early 19th century Jamaica which were held at New Year.  The tradition seems to date from the 1770s and to have originated in the French Caribbean. There were two rival factions, Reds and Blues. One theory is that the Reds represented the English and the Blues represented the Scotch. Another is that it relates to two balls for creole girls held by two admirals in the late 18th century, the "Admiral of the Red" and the "Admiral of the Blue".  The Reds and Blues seem to have held rival balls and parades which were heavily influenced by European fashion.  The motto of the Reds was "Red Girls Forever". 

Information about this tradition has been gleaned from the following sources: 
Race, Romanticism and the Atlantic, edited by Professor Paul Youngquist, Ashgate Publishing Ltd. 2013
Afro-Creole: Power, Opposition, and Play in the Caribbean
Kitty Ross, Curator of Leeds History



The Morley Brank or Scold’s Bridle

The Morley Brank.
This photograph was taken by Kitty Ross for Leeds Museums and Galleries and is licensed under Creative Commons BY NC SA
One of the items that has attracted most publicity and interest in the Abbey House “Crime and Punishment” exhibition is the “scold’s bridle” or “brank”. 

The “Brank” was a cruel device used to punish those who spoke out of turn (probably mostly used on women).  The earliest reference to its use in England seems to be from Macclesfield in 1623, but there are records in Scotland that refer to women being “branket” in 1574.

The Yorkshire Illustrated Monthly No. 6, Vol. 1, May 1884
This photograph was taken for Leeds Museums and Galleries and is licensed under Creative Commons BY NC SA
The brank was an iron framework that was placed on the head to enclose it in a kind of cage.  It had in front an iron plate which was either sharpened or covered with spines and situated to be placed in the mouth of the victim so that she could not move her tongue without injury.    With the brank on her head she was then conducted through the streets, led by a chain held by one of the town’s officials.  In some towns she would have been chained to the pillory, whipping post or market cross. 

“She thus suffered for telling her mind to some petty tyrant in office, or speaking plainly of a wrong doer, or for taking to task a lazy, perhaps drunken husband” (Article in Yorkshire Illustrated Monthly  May 1884)

The same 1884 article pointed out that:
“The use of the instrument was not sanctioned by law, but was altogether illegal.  To everybody it must be a matter of deep regret that the brank should ever have been used at all.”
The brank from Morley is slightly less vicious than some of those found elsewhere.  The tongue plate is rough but not spiked.  It was collected by the Morley historian Norrison Scatcherd (1780-1853) who left it to the Leeds Museum where it has been in the collection since 1863.

The late Liz Pirie, Curator of Archaeology at Leeds City Museum, wearing the Morley brank in 1985
This photograph was taken by Leeds City Council Dept. of Planning for Leeds Museums and Galleries and is licensed under Creative Commons BY NC SA
The scold’s bridle caught the imagination of the local and national press when the Crime and Punishment exhibition opened at Abbey House Museum in January 2016. 
Yorkshire Evening Post
 The Sun
Daily Mail
Daily Mirror

Kitty Ross, Curator of Leeds History

The travels of a Leeds Police helmet: the Senegal connection

One of the treasures of the Thoresby Society collection, which has recently been transferred to Leeds Museums and Galleries, is this Leeds City Police badge.  It is of interest in its own right as it is the design worn by the police shortly after Leeds gained city status in 1893 and probably dates from about 1895.
This photograph was taken by Sara Porter for Leeds Museums and Galleries and is licensed under Creative Commons BY NC SA.

What happened to it over the next twenty years is less clear but somehow it had ended up in West Africa by 1916.  The accompanying letter sent to the Chief of Leeds City Police explains the circumstances:

District Commissioner’s Office, Zouaragu, Navorro , 19th August 1916

I have the honour to enclose herewith a badge belonging to one of your Force which was found on a native here on the borders of French Haut-Senegal and Niger.  It was on a policeman’s helmet which he was wearing, and which he stated he had bought in Coomassie market.

We are strict here in not allowing the natives, except those employed by the Government, to wear badges etc. as they impose on the raw savages up here, and loot under the guise of being in the Government Service.
I presume the helmet must have been sold in a pawnshop, but I thought the badges were always taken off.  I have seen in a small trading store in Northern Transvaal a London and N.W. Railway guard’s frock coat for sale with the company’s buttons still attached.
I have the honour to be, Sir, Your obedient Servant, Louis Castillain, District Commissioner

We only hope that the gentleman concerned was not punished too severely for this transgression and was allowed to keep his hat (minus the badge).
The badge is on display in the Crime and Punishment exhibition at Abbey House until the end of December 2016.
Kitty Ross, Curator of Leeds History