Step back in time and explore the history of Castleford from the Bronze Age to the present day. Young and old alike will find a trove of treasures to investigate, and fascinating...
It seems Wakefield is building back better, and greener!
Wakefield Museums & Castles’ summer 2021 exhibitions highlight the historic spirit and drive of local folk while discussing current hot topics: domestic travel and the environment. Both exhibitions take a look back at the life and works of Wakefield (district) lads, Charles Waterton, and Charles Pears.
Wakefield Museum’s A World of Good investigates Charles Waterton of Walton Hall. He was an avid naturalist who spoke loudly about the importance of looking after the environment (albeit unfortunately on deaf ears in his day!). The exhibition boasts some of Waterton’s own spooky creations, ringing endorsements from the likes of David Attenborough, as well as an insightful glimpse into Charles Waterton’s eccentric and controversial life through his handwritten journals. It’s also important to note that Waterton was certainly not all charm, and that his involvement in the slave trade is recognised. It’s great to see that all elements of his life are being shown, not just the good bits.
The charming animations of Charlotte Blacker and intricate paper sculptures by Andy Singleton work in tandem to shine a light on Waterton and Wakefield’s history with conservation. Both artists are truly an asset to Wakefield’s seemingly endless talent pool. This part of the exhibition especially is perfect for younger visitors as it’s both educational and engaging.
A World of Good doesn’t just look to the past either. It prompts us to think about our individual contributions and how we can better look after our beautiful big blue marble. Visitors are invited to consider what they can do for the environment and add their commitment to the growing wall of pledges- a refreshing hint of action amongst a lot of the heavy hitting reportage that has frequented the media lately.
Pontefract Museum is currently showing Bracing Air, Abundant Amusements: The Travel Posters of Charles Pears. Pontefract’s own Charles Pears was an art-deco painter whose travel posters sell Britain’s picturesque landscapes better than any brochure ever could.
The exhibition takes a look back at the heyday of British tourism and the beginning of the railways’ venture into commercial, leisure travel. Given the current risks associated with foreign travel, you really don’t need to look any further than Charles’ work to see that the UK has some truly beautiful, picture-perfect spots – featured are Greater Yarmouth or Southend-on-Sea, to name a few.
The helpful accompanying texts within the exhibition give us an insight to Pears’ artistic processes, and how his bright and bold colours were achieved. Pears also illustrated a series of well-known publications (Alice in Wonderland being a personal favourite!) which are on show alongside the travel posters.
The work of graphic designer Georgina Westley is also featured. Her huge, digitally painted view of the Buttercross and St. Giles’ Church nicely complements Pears’ more analogue methods, whilst also celebrating Pontefract. The pandemic has made us all appreciate our local area a little more, so while Pontefract might not be the traditional seaside getaway that Pears depicted, it certainly is loved just as much.
Until Friday 25 February 2022
With thanks to the Royal Society of Marine Artists.
Both exhibitions across the two museums look to the past, but also manage to help us address the current problems of today. They’re a great insight to what the people of Wakefield were thinking, doing, and celebrating back then, and now. It’s amazing to see the talented people of Wakefield get involved to create meaningful, aesthetically beautiful, and most importantly educational exhibitions.
If you’re around the Wakefield District this summer, or find yourself with a spare afternoon, I’d highly recommend that you check these exhibitions out. They’ve made me feel more connected with my community and inspired me to give a little more care to my surroundings, travel poster worthy, or otherwise!
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