Visiting Trinity College

We had a fantastic trip to Trinity College a great opportunity to get inside a college we usually just walk past on Broad Street.

It began with a fascinating tour of  the buildings with Professor Bryan Ward- Perkins. He showed us some of the oldest original walls of the buildings, the chapel with amazing Grinling Gibbons carvings and into some of the halls.  He also told us about life at college when some of the wealthy students brought their own servants and had wine cellars in the basement as well as showing us photos of recent women alumni on the dining room walls.




We all enjoyed the gardens and were excited to meet Librarian Sharon Cure for a tour of the incredibly old college Library. Sharon showed us a book which had belonged to Henry the eighth, explained  how chained books were used in libraries. We were amazed to see a medieval edition of The Canterbury Tales and a first edition of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.

Finally, we had a fascinating hour exploring the college archives with College Archivist Clare  Hopkins. We were able to handle rare medieval manuscripts from farming and land related to the college, see old rent books and college records of who had eaten what.It was a fascinating insight to college life throughout the ages.

We ended with a wonderful picnic in the gardens with Clare. It was really interesting to find out the story of how she became the archivist.

Huge thanks to Mark Shelton for arranging the visit and providing our picnic and the Bryan, Sharon and Clare for a wonderful and informative morning.

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Live Friday – planned and delivered!

We had a great time planning our collage and colouring activity for America’s Cool Modern Live Friday. Our first task was to sort coloured scraps for a huge media media collage of ‘Le Tournesol’ by Edward Steichen. We created colouring sheets and designed a huge board for  our collage.

On the night we had lots of visitors and our activities work equally well for the whole range of ages, interests and experiences. We enjoyed watching the drama, fashion show and dancing  as the Museum was buzzing with activity and music. We had learnt a lot from past Live Fridays and kept our activities short and simple.  The location in the Cyprus gallery worked really well as people could drop in as they passed by.

 All in all it was  a great success- we plan to run lots more activities at future Live Fridays!

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Printing and Book Binding Workshop

Artists Ellen Love and Lauren Baldwin ran two fantastic workshops teaching us about printmaking and bookbinding. Taking inspiration from William Dobson’s painting created during the Civil War in Oxford at the Ashmolean, we gathered textures and fabrics to make mono prints on paper. We were shown how to fold and cut paper into 15 equal squares for our final book’s pages. 

Ellen demonstrated mono printing and we worked with blues, rich burgundy reds and black inks to create a final piece of work to send through the printing press. Printing from the remaining plastic sheet provided equally stunning results.

Cutting the paper 

Lauren showed us alternative ways of cutting our sheet of prints to create different fold out books. She took us through the process of creating a beautiful concertina book with hand marbled covers, tied with a ribbon. Lauren also showed us the stunning range of hand made books she has created including stitched fabric books containing collages of textiles to others made from maps and other pieces of her artwork. We all went away inspired to try these new techniques and make books for ourselves.

 We were all thrilled with the final, completed books to take away. Thank you Lauren and Ellen for your inspiring session!

arrange  pieces

ink with a roller



use the printing press to create a print

cut the finished piece to create a concertina shape



bind in a hand made book tied with a ribbon






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Journey to the Ancient Near East with lunch at St John’s College


Thank you to Paul Collins, curator of the Ancient Near East for a fascinating tour of the Ancient Near East gallery on Saturday. We got an insight into some of the choices and challenges curators are faced with when planning new galleries and heard some hidden stories about ancient objects on display. Paul told us about an object he had chosen to take out from storage and display- a fragment of a  decorative wall made of small clay cones with coloured ends.  This object revealed the roles of many different people in its manufacture and construction and started us thinking about the lives of the people who might have made it and built it. Thank you Paul for a thought provoking tour. 

It’s a challenge to create resources which different teachers and students can use to explore galleries when they come on a self guided visit. Today the CREATIVES gave feedback about resources which are in the process of being developed for the Greek and Roman galleries for secondary schools. Everyone had plenty of ideas and suggestions for improvements all of which will feed into the final design- thanks team!

A highlight of the term was lunch at St John’s College. We all tucked in to the great selection of food on offer, caught some organ music in the chapel and enjoyed the sunshine in the quad.

Thank you to Ruth and Katherine, access officers at St John’s, for having us!

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Following the acquisition of a painting by William Dobson set during the Civil War, The Museum is creating a new app for use by families and secondary school students. It will take people on a walking tour from the Ashmolean and its Civil War related objects around the city to visit key sites in Oxford linked with the Civil War.

The CREATIVES helped to edit the scripts which actors will use in some short films which will be on the app. Everyone agreed that taking a light-hearted approach would make the tour more interesting and enjoyable for the participants so shared ideas for clues and multiple choice questions for the app.

For example…..

What is written inside the scroll Prince Rupert is holding?

a. A design for a new hairstyle.

b. A recipe for roast pigeon with all the trimmings

c. Nothing.

Answer-c.  Nothing! 

Royalist Prince Rupert had lost Bristol in a battle and was in disgrace. King Charles I sent him a blank scroll to compose his confession of guilt. He was so adamant that he was innocent that he sent it back to the King empty.  Charles I appreciated this gesture and eventually Prince Rupert was reconciled with the King.

America’s Cool Modernism…. coming soon….

We  started to plan our ideas for a Summer Live Friday based around America’s Cool Modernism exhibition which opens on 23rd March. Taking inspiration from the stunning paintings in the exhibition, we planned and tried a collage activity to see how we could make it work for visitors on the night. Watch this space for more information about the event in the Summer!

Next meeting 24th February 10- 12 in the Education Studio. Come and join us as we meet Curator Paul Collins and hear about the Ancient Near East gallery and its collections then plan new activities for drop-in visitors aged 11- 18.




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