Our session was held at The British Museum, their Access and Equality Manager, Jane Samuels, introduced us to Judy Joseph an ESOL tutor (English for Speakers of Other Languages).
Jane introduces Judy to the Tower Project
Judy picked out several objects from the Enlightenment Gallery, our Co-researchers really enjoyed the session and were able to concentrate really well.
Judy explained the history and geography of the objects and also added some sensory information including a sachet of drinking chocolate that Judy brought out when we looked at chocolate cups in the collection.
Chocolate cups from Sir Hans Sloane’s collection
Judy explained It was Sir Hans Sloane who introduced milk chocolate for drinking. He had drunk chocolate while working as a doctor in the West Indies, but found it ‘nauseous and hard of digestion’. So he made it taste nicer by boiling the beans with milk and sugar.
Judy also told us about Sir Hans Sloane’s medical specimen collection. Judy added sensory information including spices such as nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon bark and explained how they were used as medicine. For example Judy described how clove oil was used to help soothe toothache.
Judy Specimens and Spices
Judy also told us about a wooden shoe from India, Judy asked who would wear the shoe? It would be worn by someone rich who didn’t have to walk very far as it would be very difficult to walk in.
Judy showed us a replica of the Rosetta Stone, she asked the group if they could find a label saying you could touch the replica. The group found it under the stone it was quite hard to find, then we all touched the stone, some tapped the stone and we found the replica sounded hollow as it was made of fiberglass. We learnt about the languages on the stone, Greek, Demotic and Hieroglyphic and how the stone holds the key to understanding Egyptian hieroglyphs.
Touching Replica Rosetta
After lunch we went to look at the original Rosetta Stone in room 4 the picture below shows the stone in its glass case.
Group visit RosettaStoneOriginal
There were many people in the gallery looking at the stone, you could not touch this one.
After Judy’s tour our Co-researchers continued to gather information to create sensory labels for a chosen object in the Enlightenment Gallery. We had a new member of the group Ashley he chose a stuffed Rat.
Ashley chose a Rat
The picture below shows some of the objects the group has chosen, Sam continues to be interested in shells, Judith in the leather bag and sandals and I think Adelana looked at more rings.
We are going to have talks and demonstrations about the project on Tuesday 10th of June the Seminar is part of Universities Week Below is a flyer in easy read version and with more text about the Seminar. Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to attend the seminar its free but places are limited.
The main focus of our workshop was for our co-researchers to try out some of the Sensory Objects in development. Sian’s mooing boot was first, the group enjoyed stroking it, sometimes if fell over which surprised people, but the boot has been rebuilt by Nic with it’s electronics inside, to be pretty robust. We did wonder if we need to weight it down in someway, although some co-researchers would like to pick it up and stroke it others wanted to just pat it, which could make it topple over.
Sian with a pair of mooing boots
Sian was clear that she preferred hearing her own mooing rather than having sounds of real cows, so we recorded her mooing and will change the sound track. She also painted another version of Old MacDonald for the New Boot.
Luke tests his bucket
Luke’s ‘Hole in one’ bucket was next, Nic tested out flag poles that would alter the sound track when the egg/ball went down the hole. Luke definitely preferred it when he heard his own voice. We discovered the hole to put the pole in was had to find and that wooden poles were easy to break so Nic suggested aluminium poles. We recorded Luke speaking some more to add to the recording.
Then we tested out Skye’s Farm in a bucket, Skye had asked for the sound to be on constantly so the sounds of the farm were fitted with a timer.
But the group had become used to touching to trigger sounds from their previous experience with the boot. We wondered if we should add a touch sensor too?
We also tested the sensors for Rachel’s pig it still needs a bit of work we demoed it with NIc making the sounds as the sensors are not quite ready yet. Rachel also made a fantastic drawing of animals
We also made smoothies which we had after another delicious lunch with freshly churned butter supplied by Robyn. We drew on and planted out some more Wellie boots with plants that smell good. Rachel and Guillermo concentrated really hard on this task and collected some stones from MERL’s garden for drainage.
This testing session the first of six was a chance for Nic to introduce the Cookbook to a new group, and to introduce Sudley House. The picture below shows our Co-Researchers looking at the Cookbook.
Cookbook Test at Sudley House
Stephen Hogg, Angela Green, Gerry Regan and June Jenkins were Sensory Objects Co-Researchers 2012-13 at Speke Hall Liverpool. We asked them along with Ticky Lowe and Nic Hollinworth to meet and introduce John, Keith and Pauline and support worker Anita from Stockbridge Day Centre to the Sensory Objects project Cookbook. John, Keith, Pauline and Anita are new to the project and we wanted to show them the Cookbook and see if they found it easy to use as a guide to planning sensory activities at a new venue. Led by Ticky we explored Sudley House focusing on and recording textures of actual objects, costume and objects in paintings.
Sudley Hall Textures
Then back in the workshop room we used Ticky’s collection of fabrics to choose textures like the ones we found in the house to make a “textural” record of our visit. For the next sessions Anita will be using the cookbook to plan and deliver workshops at Sudley House herself. Ticky’s role will be to document the sessions and find out how Anita finds using the cookbook to plan and deliver the sessions.
We focused this workshop on the sense of TOUCH in the morning, we had seven bags each with a collection of materials inside. We asked the Co-Researchers to feel inside the bags first and try to describe how the materials felt, some of the words the group used were rough, smooth, soft, hard, cold and warm. The picture below shows the group touching objects in the bags then using some pictures to discuss the types of materials and how they felt touch.
Seven bags with materials inside
After our Co-Researchers had described how the materials felt we asked them to place them in order of preference, the objects nearest the smiley face were their favourites the ones near the sad face our Co-Researchers least favourite material to touch. Luke chose his favourite as the milk bottle as it reminded him of breakfast, the softer materials such as the fleece and wool blanket were very popular as were the root vegetables, but the piece of sweetcorn was too cold and slimy to touch, the metal hard and cold. The picture below shows the lineup of the groups choices.
Favourite and least favourite materials to touch
Then our Co-Researchers were asked to choose one of the objects in the bags that they really liked to touch, could they find something in the museum that they associated with the object? This was quite a difficult task, the picture below shows Rachel who chose a Parsnip, Sian chose a plastic milk bottle, Guillermo chose some pop corn and Rumena who chose an egg, they are photographed holding the object next to what what they found to connect it in the MERL collection.
Materials we like to touch and things that link to them in MERL
We also asked the group to link one of the objects in the bags to a sound from the sound boxes. Rachel could remember where the sounds were on the dial! The image below shows Sian with an egg pressing the sound box to make the sound of hens, Luke he chose a potato and played the sound of a steam engine and Skye also chose the egg but continually pressed the button on the sound box so the clucking sound of the hen started to sound like barking and she pointed to the picture of the dog on the image sheet, we thought this was good observation of an accidental invention.
Adding sounds to objects
Robyn made us a great lunch again with salad, pizza, popcorn, sweet corn, bread that we sliced on the table and carrot cake. This time Robyn decided to keep the food on plates that could be passed around by the group rather than plating it up first the group were able to pass the food around to everyone.
After lunch we asked the Co-Researchers to try the littleBits electronics kit that we had used in the last workshop. We asked the group to make LED’s light up using different sensors. The image below shows the Rachel altering the pulsing of the LEDs with a small screwdriver and Skye trying out the pressure sensors from the littleBits electronics kit. Rumena and Rachel are becoming experts with the littleBits kit!
Skye uses pressure sensor
We also used a sound sensor, connected to the sound box, the picture below shows Sian and Guillermo clapping to activate the sound sensor.
Guillermo claps to activate a sound sensor linked to the sound box
Sian claps testing a sound sensor linked to the sound box
We practised using littleBits triggering the sounds from the sound box and LED’s with different sensors, then we opened some parcels, inside were various types of containers linked to farming, there were Buckets, Baskets and Boots.
These objects were inspired by the museum and the idea of a container to collect sensory information in. We wanted to experiment with objects other than plain boxes that we used last year at Speke Hall. We explained to the group that we chose these objects because they linked to the MERL collection, farming and they were all objects that could contain things. We asked the Co-Researchers what you could put in a bucket? Luke said water and Skye said eggs, she also mentioned that you could collect eggs in baskets too. Rachel had seen baskets in the museum and she linked the parsnip she chose earlier because she liked how it felt, to collecting vegetables in baskets.
Rachel links baskets to collecting vegetables such as a parsnip
Sian and Guillermo gave a practical demonstration of what goes inside a Wellie boot as they both decided to wear them. The picture below show them wearing the boots and caring the buckets and baskets.
Sian and Guillermo bootsbucketsbaskets
Luke, Guillermo, Skye, Sain and Rachel (Rumena not in pic)
Then we thought we’d try out the baskets and buckets, we asked the group to choose one of the containers and we went outside into the MERL garden to see what we could collect to put inside our buckets or baskets. The picture below shows the group outside collecting lots of autumn leaves, stones, apples etc.
inside the buckets and baskets
The picture above shows some of the objects our Co-Researchers collected in their buckets and baskets from the MERL garden, the leaves were beautiful, their reflection in the shiny buckets were great and to capture them we finished off our workshop by creating some textured rubbings from the leaves we collected see the picture below.
Leaf texture rubbings
During the last part of the workshop we introduced the idea to the group that we had made art from what we had found, outside enjoying how the materials looked in the buckets, how stones sounded when dropped in the bucket and also how interesting the leaves looked when we rubbed crayons over them to see the pattern and texture of the leaf. We also mentioned that these buckets, baskets and boots could have the potential to be containers for sensory information in the museum, we will continue to explore them in the next MERL workshop.
This was a really busy workshop our Co-Researchers impressed us with how focused and engaged they were all day.