Thursday, November 11, 2010

Great films, inspired by our collections and made by young people from Bedford Foyer

Over 2010 the Cecil Higgins Art Gallery & Bedford Museum has been working with Bedford Foyer, Elizabeth Thomas and Orphan Pixel Company on an exciting Foyer film project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The 3 films shown here were devised by residents of Bedford Foyer who were involved throughout the whole process, from editing and sound to acting in front of the camera! The films are aimed at getting young people interested in history and their heritage by telling a gripping personal story about the past. Each script was inspired by an object chosen from the museum’s collections by the young people involved.

The photographs show the young people during the process of making the films.
Richard Fuller, MP for Bedford, has described the films as demonstrating “a remarkable combination of simplicity of execution, clarity and precision of dialogue and first class acting.”

Below are some of the objects that inspired the project.

Viking Sword - Iron sword blade from 10-11th centuries, found at Russell Park, Bedford

Crossbow bolt - good quality iron bolt from the 14th century, found in Bedfordshire.The bolt would have fitted on to a wooden shaft and been fired from a large crossbow. It was strong enough to pierce armour.

This project is part of our Audience Development Project. This is a four-year project which aims to engage a wide range of communities and groups in Bedford Borough with the Museum and Gallery collections and their own heritage through creative activities, events, consultation and involvement in new exhibitions. The project has been funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Bedford Borough Council, The Bedford Charity (The Harpur Trust) and Lousada Plc.

Friday, November 5, 2010

We aim to raise £800,000 to save a unique zodiac settle designed by William Burges for the nation - with your help!

A unique zodiac settle designed by William Burges is currently subject to a temporary export bar put in place by Culture Minister Ed Vaizey, following a recommendation from the Reviewing Committee on the Sale of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest. The export bar expires on 20 December 2010.
Following the decision, Cecil Higgins Art Gallery & Bedford Museum has been identified as the most appropriate UK institution to mount a fundraising campaign to raise the £800,000 necessary to acquire the settle and save it for the nation.

The settle (1869-70) is an ornate seat or bench that combines the form of an Italian Renaissance day-bed with a castellated canopy inspired by the English Gothic. It is made from painted, stencilled and gilded wood, decorated with rock crystal and slips of vellum. The central panel, painted by Burges’ collaborator Henry Stacey Marks, features the sun on a throne, surrounded by the dancing signs of the zodiac, while other panels show the Planets as musicians and female figures.

Designed by Burges for his own use, the settle was firstly in his rooms on Buckingham Street off the Strand in London, and later moved to Tower House, the gothic residence Burges built for himself in Holland Park. Tower House has been described as one of the most important architect’s houses of the 19th century. Burges left hundreds of drawings of Tower House showing his plans for the interior design schemes. These show that the zodiac settle was placed in the Drawing Room, decorated on the theme of love, from which Burges intended to completely remove chairs. Unlike other pieces of his painted furniture, such as cabinets and bookcases, the settle was an experiment in form and design that was never repeated in any of his later furniture commissions.

If we were succesful in acquiring the settle, it would be the perfect addition to the collection of work by Burges already held here. The collection includes the Sleeping Beauty Bed, the Narcissus Washstand and a dressing table, all from Burges’ own bedroom, as well as a pair of cabinet doors, a wardrobe and a zodiac-themed bookcase. The collection also includes a tulip vase, a decorative silver decanter, a set of knives and forks, an enamelled silver bracelet, and a set of 30 zodiac-themed tiles. The settle would form a central piece of the new Gothic Revival Gallery proposed in our redevelopment plans.

You can support or campaign to save the settle for the nation by sharing this online booklet on your website, facebook or blog page.

Just follow this link and then copy and paste the embed code into your page.

You can also add our twibbon to your Twitter, Facebook or Blog.

If you would like to pledge your financial support, contact us on 01234 211222 or at

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Extra Film Event Planned

Thank you to all those who attended the one-off screening of British Pathe newsreel on Sunday 31st October at Bedford Gallery. Record visitor numbers were reached!

Happily another film event has been scheduled. On Wednesday 24th November at 1pm we will be showing  'R100’s construction at Howden with commentary from its designer Barnes Wallis'

Not only that, Peter Rix, Chairman of the Barnes Wallis Memorial Trust will be here to give an introduction to the film, and to answer your questions afterwards.