WHAT'S ON

Wells & Mendip Museum has a busy calendar of events. From talks and workshops to art exhibitions and garden days, keep an eye on this page to see what's coming up.

The museum publishes a free bi-monthly newsletter with information on events and developments in the museum. Please visit Our Newsletter page to subscribe or download copies.

 
Unfortunately, many exhibitors had to cancel due to the COVID-19 lockdown.
Instead, their work is on display in our virtual exhibition rooms, available to view here.
What's On - Summary
Scroll down the page for full event details

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Lord Of The Dance
An Exhibition of Sculpture by Simon Latham

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The Phillip's Portraits
A Photographic Exhibition

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As I See It
An Art Exhibition by Brian Luker
Roman lead ingot from Westbury-sub-Mendip

On Display Now

The museum is excited to exhibit a Roman lead ingot or ‘pig’ that was found at Westbury-sub-Mendip in 2016.

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This ingot is special for several reasons. It is precisely datable, it is further evidence of Roman lead mining at Charterhouse-on-Mendip, and it indicates previously unrecognised significant Roman activity at Westbury.
 

It carries the inscription ‘IMP DVOR AVG ANTONINI ET VERI ARMENIACORVM’ which translates as the ‘property of the two August Emperors Antoninus and Verus, conquerors of Armenia’. We know that the Roman emperors Marcus Aurelius (Antoninus) and Lucius Verus ruled jointly between 164 and 169 AD.

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The ‘pig’ is made from lead mined at Charterhouse. As well as the mines there was a Roman town here, which included a small amphitheatre. The mines supplied lead and silver that was exported from Mendip to other parts of the empire. The lead was used to make water pipes and coffins, and as a component of pewter.


Also found nearby was a hoard of 89 Roman Radiate coins, some of which are also on display. The ingot and the coins point to a significant Roman presence in the area and work continues by the Westbury Society Archaeology Group to understand this better.

 

The ingot is on loan from the South West Heritage Trust. Its acquisition is dedicated to the memory of Barry Lane (1944-2017), former Curator of the museum who was passionate about uncovering the rich history of his home village, Westbury.

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Gold "Posy Ring"

An Exciting Acquisition

"The Curator's Choice" is a changing display which features an item specially chosen by the curator.

This "Posy Ring" is a locally found post-Medieval gold ring, dating from 1550 to 1650.

 

A posy ring is a finger ring inscribed with a short message. It gets its name from “Poesy”, an old word for a verse of poetry or a motto.

 

This ring is inscribed “FERE + GOD + EVER”, where “FERE” is an old word for a marriage partner - a husband or wife. During the Middle Ages when religion was so much part of everyday life it was not unusual to combine religious, friendly or amorous words.

Medieval rings had the inscription on the outside, but later ones, like this post-Medieval example which dates from between 1550 and 1650, have the inscription on the inside.

 

Curator David Walker said “the craftsmanship of the goldsmith is amazing and the ring will make a wonderful addition to the museum’s displays.”

"The Curator's Choice" cabinet is outside The Exhibition Room (upstairs).

Lord Of The Dance

An Exhibition of Sculpture by Simon Latham

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Please note - this exhibition began before the COVID-19 lockdown, so will remain on display for the time being. An end date has not yet been set.

"Lord of the Dance" is the title of a sculpture Simon Latham made in 1990 when he was resident artist at Peterborough Cathedral. It is composed of three entwined, tubular elements, and creates a lively, cruciform figure.

The title is shared with Sydney Carter’s well-loved hymn and the Hindu god Shiva. The image can be seen as a reference to the crucified Christ (“He opened wide his arms for us on the cross”) and draws to mind the Brazen Serpent, made by Moses and raised on a staff as a symbol of healing to the Israelites in the wilderness, which Christ understood to prefigure his own crucifixion. It also invites comparison with the snake entwined staff of Asclepius, who of all the gods of the ancient world is nearest to the ideal of Christ: his walking stick and snake is now a universal symbol of the medical profession.

Last year, Simon decided to recreate the life-sized sculpture that once stood in Peterborough Cathedral, the other pieces were made between 1989 and 1992. He is delighted that these exhibits can be seen again together as a group. Some are carved from wood and others are made of plaster. Variations on the theme include a seated Christ in Majesty, often represented in cathedral carvings, and a reclining figure originally referring to St Paul at his conversion. Drawings, paintings and prints exploring the theme are exhibited with the sculptures alongside original photographs. It is imagery of hope, faith and sacrificial love,and he hopes you find it visually pleasing, still of interest and worth visiting.

The graphic work includes four charcoal drawings: one each of his first two woodcarvings, another showing three views of the small plaster torso figure, the last showing the reclining St Paul torso figure. There are three small black and white paintings exploring the confrontation of the two torso figures, and a colour poster of Sebastien Bourdon’s “Brazen Serpent” (1660) Prado Museum, Madrid.

Simon Latham was born in 1964. He graduated from Oxford University as a Bachelor of Fine Art in 1987. Before coming to Peterborough Cathedral, he was Resident Artist at Plymouth College and Repton School. He became an Art Teacher in 1994 and has taught at schools in London and Dorset. In 2017, he retired from teaching and has been picking up the threads of past ideas and developing new ones.

FREE ENTRY TO EXHIBITION ONLY

The Phillip's Portraits

A Photographic Exhibition

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Please note - an end date has not yet been set.

Wells and Mendip museum are very lucky to hold the archive of Bert Phillip’s photographs.

The images were originally on glass plates and saved for the city by Hilda Southwood and her son Alan in the 1950s - when Phillip’s Studio in the Market Place closed down and many of the original plates were destroyed.

In the newly refurbished gallery on the first floor there is an exhibition of the Phillip’s Portraits, many
of which have not yet been publicly displayed.

The focus of the exhibition is on children and teenagers, with a display of toys from the museum collections. The images also explore the trades of Wells and district - builders, bakers, masons, carpenters, servants and domestics, publicans - and travellers, wedding pictures, and some of the stories uncovered by researching the people behind the portraits.

The exhibition shows the social history of the city and surrounding villages and, apart from being
superb photographs, are a record of fashion, family and the working class who would dress up
in their very best clothes or cleanest working bib and tucker to have their picture taken.

The photographs have been carefully converted into digital form from the glass plates by Allen Cotton and Steve Wilkinson.

As I See It

An Art Exhibition by Brian Luker

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Please note - this exhibition began before the COVID-19 lockdown, so will remain on display for the time being. An end date has not yet been set.

*Brian is kindly donating all proceeds from the sale of his paintings to the museum.*

Brian Luker learnt watercolour from the renowned ornithological painter R. B. Talbot-Kelly. Brian’s paintings of aeroplanes, often incidents in flying careers, are distributed around the world with the fellow pilots he gave them to, so the earliest picture here is of La Alhambra in Granada University. Career and family then produced a gap of 30 years.

After a first heart attack, Brian took up painting again as a successful therapy to regain concentration. His work has developed since then, with a more vivid palette and the enjoyment of the different tactility and process that oils provide in such contrast to watercolour. In both media he loves texture and the understanding of shape, shadows and reflection. His subjects vary widely from still life, figure, landscape (en plein air, when possible) to portrait works.

David Cuthbert and Robert Maxwell-Wood have been very influential in these developments, while his work is featured in Ros Cuthbert’s book Introduction to Painting Portraits. He has exhibited at RWS. Brian’s work is firmly in the realist tradition and reflects a clarity of view that goes, he hopes, with his view of the world. Heroes are Hockney and Freud (“rescuers of English painting”), but his favourite painting is the ‘Vista de Toledo’ by El Greco, a portrait of Brian’s best-loved city in Spain.

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Opening Hours
Saturdays, 10am-4pm
and
alternate Tuesdays & Thursdays, 10am-4pm
We currently have reduced opening hours following the COVID-19 lockdown.

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