Posts Tagged With: art

The Pencil Museum. Yes, that’s what I said.

I’m back in The Lake District again. Because I couldn’t leave it without telling you about the Cumberland Pencil Museum. Don’t scoff – it’s really interesting. Yes, it is.
So, on a cold and rainy afternoon in Keswick, when we don’t really feel like hiking, we decide to try out this place. It’s exterior is pretty uninspiring, just on the edge of the town centre with the actual pencil factory as its backdrop. And when we first go in, it doesn’t seem that much better, really. But we pay our entrance fees, and the kids are offered a quiz to complete as well as a sketching contest to do on the way around, and we are off and running. We go through into the first room, which turns out to be the only room, and I wonder how long we will actually be able to stay out of the rain – it doesn’t seem like it will take more than half an hour to get around everything.
I am wrong.
The kids explore the first display and learn about graphite mining and the actual process of making a pencil, spurred on to learn more by the quiz they have been given. Legend has it that after a huge storm in the area, Borrowdale farmers discovered a black material under some uprooted trees which turned out to be graphite. And the rest is history. A cottage industry materialized, and eventually led to the UKs first pencil factory in 1832. Then we look at the way coloured pencils are made, which is actually pretty fascinating. In fact, the whole place is pretty fascinating.
And because we are not in a rush to get back out into the rain, we explore it in great detail. We see the jewel encrusted pencil made for the Queen’s recent jubilee. We watch a video of how Raymond Briggs created his famous Snowman animated stories with Lakeland coloured pencils. And perhaps the most interesting of all, the WWII exhibit which tells the tale of when the craftsmen at this pencil museum were commissioned by MI 9 to create a pencil the looked at functioned like a regular pencil, but that contained a tiny compass in the eraser, which could also be unscrewed to reveal a map of Germany!




The other great thing about this museum (besides the Guiness Book’s largest pencil in the world) was the fact that little tables full of different types of coloured pencils and watercolour pencils were scattered around, and you could just sit and draw or paint, something most of us would never take the time to do. And when we had finished looking around, there was the Techniques Room, filled with even more art supplies and video tutorials so we could have a crack at some of the more impressive techniques. The kids spent at least an hour in here while we enjoyed a nice cup of tea in the cafe, which also had art supplies on the tables!
And at the end, when all that was left was the gift shop, all those fabulous art supplies were available for sale!
And yes, I do see the connection there, but surely buying fabulous art supplies is ok, right? I mean, it is educational.
And creative.
And useful.
We did buy, and I am happy to say, those supplies made painters of us all. Inspired by the beautiful surroundings of The Lakes, we became artists. Really. We did.

by Mairi

by Darragh



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Salvador Dali: Cool, Crazy and Creative.

These are the words our just-turned-nine year old used to describe Salvador Dali today having spent three hours perusing his works at the Dali museum in his birthplace, Fuegeres, Spain. Now, just so we don’t get ahead of ourselves, she was really tired and pretty fed up by the time we left, and we did have to rush the 21st and 22nd rooms a bit. But still, its great that she was able to come up with such positive words to describe Dali’s work. Let’s face it, there could easily have been harsher words used to describe it. And she was quick to point out that it is his work that is cool, not him. Him, apparently, not cool at all. What with that mustache and the crazy eyes…
She was fascinated by the constant reappearance of Gala, and spent a while speculating on who she might be, and whether she would have been mad that he painted her with her boob showing. Because its disgusting, obviously, and if it were her, she would have been furious.
The older two girls would have been happy to spend more time there – there is so much to see in every picture, you could spend an hour on each one. (I couldn’t, but apparently they could). That would mean we’d have been there until next Wednesday, I think. They are not kidding when they say much of his life’s work is housed there! Some of the kid’s other thoughts today:

It’s amazing that he could do really normal paintings and sculptures, and then do these!
I wonder why he decided to do his Soft Self Portrait with a piece of grilled bacon…I guess everything’s better with bacon.
Who would think to put corn around someone’s neck, and a baguette on their head?
Do you think Dali was a poacher? (in response to the one with all the stuffed squashed pheasants)

They loved it though, which quite surprised me. I guess when you think about it, the eyes of a child are the perfect eyes for a lot of this work. No judgement really, just fascination and wonder. We have lots of questions for Google tomorrow.
And I think we almost succeeded in our attempt to pass it off as a Halloween Field Trip. One of them even suggested they could do a Dali inspired Halloween picture tomorrow since so much of the crazy fits in well with Halloween. All in all, I think he was a big hit. And our children continue to amaze me with their incredible insight and open-mindedness.
Road School is so enlightening. For all of us.
By the way, it was very cool, and well worth a visit. But make sure you have lots of time, because you really could spend the day.







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