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Marsh Award Winners 2020
4 May 2020
Every year the Marsh Christian Trust recognises some of the outstanding contributions made by volunteers of The Arts Society in the field of heritage conservation and arts education.
Brian Marsh OBE, Chairman of the Marsh Christian Trust, comments:
We are pleased once again to be working with the Arts Society to recognise volunteers across societies both in the UK and internationally who are committed to helping to conserve and promote the decorative and fine arts in their local communities. The Awards were first presented in 2013, we have been able to celebrate the work of a great range of volunteers doing some incredible work, and I would sincerely like to pass on my congratulations to this year’s winners.
We are delighted to announce the 2020 prize-winners:
Society Committee Award
THE ARTS SOCIETY Mid Wales and Borders
In recent years the Society has overcome a decline in membership numbers by moving the location of their meetings to a more convenient location in the town centre, within walking distance of the station, parking and restaurants.
The Society provides a stimulating lecture programme and social activities such as an annual Garden Party and a concert in Welshpool in the spring. They have organised some wonderful trips to places of interest such as Chatsworth, the Egyptology Gallery at Bolton Museum, Anglesey to visit Oriel Ynys Mon and Plas Newydd, Kilpeck in Herefordshire and the Mackintosh Exhibition in Liverpool. Many of their members would not be able to visit these places were it not for an organised trip.
The Society has seen a growth not only in members but also in visitors, some of them young and the Society hopes to encourage them to join.
The Committee are an enthusiastic team and work well together. They produce a newsletter three times a year which informs members and others about what the Society has done and is about to do. They advertise in local papers and on social media.
They make a significant difference to, and imact on, their wider community and they are not resting on their laurels; they seek other ways to reach out, such as to schools encouraging Sixth Form students to join relevant lectures and they are looking to accommodate less fortunate members of the community.
Society Committee Award, Highly Commended
THE ARTS SOCIETY Southampton
The Arts Society Southampton is an exemplary Society that lives and breathes the values of the organisation, whilst developing pragmatic solutions to challenges and opportunities for its Members and non-Members.
Their most recent initiative was a project to support the Southampton City Art Gallery, who had been invited to have a pop up gallery at the London Art Fair. The Society committee agreed to provide stewards for the Gallery at the Fair, for six days, 10am-9pm. Not only did they draw on existing Members, they successfully invited new Members to join just to be part of this project. One Member created a resource pack for the other volunteers, giving information about each painting on display. During the Fair, an average of three volunteers is on hand to tell visitors about the Gallery, displays - and The Arts Society.
On the daily commute from Southampton to London (the costs are covered by the Society, as the Gallery could not afford this), Committee members agreed that they would do a Dementia Trail next: showing their versatility to give help where it is needed. The welcome at the pop up gallery, the ideas coming from the Committee members ("why not have a lecture on the art of computer games, followed by one on a traditional subject") and generosity of the Society (under 25s go free) all demonstrate that this Society is pushing in the right direction.
New Society Committee Award
The Arts Society Maidenhead
The Arts Society Maidenhead started in 2017 and has just celebrated the end of their second active year. There was no Arts Society in Maidenhead at all, so when Marsha Carey-Elms, the Chair, was first approached to found a Society, it was rather daunting to start from scratch and the first task was to find a Committee.Within weeks an incredible group of enthusiastic, committed and resourceful people came together from a variety of sources mainly by word of mouth and visits to local groups such as the Civic Society and local Rotary groups. Each one of the group brought a unique skill and all complemented each other perfectly. They worked as a team so effectively, that within the first year of the Society, membership grew from one Member to around 250. Many new friendships have been formed.
The Society has been innovative and immediately embarked upon a quest to attract sponsorship which has been very successful. The local auction house, Dawson’s, gave a grant in return for publicity. A number of social/ educational events have since taken place in partnership with the auction house. These have been very popular and successful and also enabled the Society to hold evening events in addition to their regular day time meetings. Sponsorship and grants have also been arranged with the local travel agent, dentist and media and building companies.
The committee has also organised a number of trips and guided tours during its first two years. These have included one on Stanley Spencer in local Cookham.
It is well known that the arts in schools have sadly been pushed to the margins in recent years so through its Arts Volunteering projects the Society has been able to fill some gaps, making a significant impact on the provision and enrichment of the arts education for the local young people and helping the staff in these establishments who already are over stretched.
The Arts Society Maidenhead has made remarkable progress in a very short space of time. It has an established reputation locally with good media coverage and exciting wide ranging lecture programmes which have been compiled by the whole committee’s input and which has received resounding praise from the memberships’ feedback.
Heritage Volunteers Group
ROSS-ON-WYE / Malvern Hills / Hereford
Arts Society Heritage Volunteers have been conserving needlework for over 20 years at Hellens Manor in Much Marcle in Herefordshire, one of the oldest dwellings in England, primarily composed of Tudor, Jacobean, and Georgian architecture, but the foundations date from the 12th century, with some elements older still.
Two years ago the team which is drawn from three Societies at Ross-on-Wye, Malvern Hills, and Hereford, decided on their most ambitious project to date - to make a brand new piece of crewel work, depicting the history of the house in its context of local and national history. It is designed to hang in the minstrels’ gallery at Hellens.
Crewel work, which dates back at least a thousand years is a type of surface embroidery on linen, using 2 ply worsted wool. The oldest surviving known piece of crewel work embroidery is the Bayeux Tapestry, and this piece is very reminiscent of the Bayeux design. 40 different kinds of stitch are used in the Hellens piece and these have been taught to the twelve individual needlewomen by Sally Ziesler who is leading the project.
Some of the team, together with the house management, researched the first thousand years of the history of the house in its context of local and national history, and others designed the piece which, when finished will be nine metres long. The design was then drawn onto tracing paper, and the stitching, which will take about five years, has begun. Sally has recruited and trained people who have never sewed before and will be able to pass on their skills to others.
Along the top is the history of the house and along the bottom key events in history in words. The central zone contains most of the action in pictures, which takes place in chronological order. Events take place in a long series of scenes which are generally separated by depictions of various kinds of trees. A frame has been designed to hold the finished piece in the minstrels’ gallery, where it will fit exactly round the room, and will be seen by the public from the Great Hall below.
People who visit Hellens are able to see the work in progress and to put the manor into its historical context.
Young Arts AWARD
Jenny Gilks, THE ARTS SOCIETY Wessex Area
Jenny Gilks has been a member of The Arts Society North Wilshire since December 2009 when she was immediately approached by Julie Price to become the Wessex Area Young Arts Coordinator.
With her art and museum education background and skills she was the ideal choice to become the Area Coordinator. Over the years she has developed the role to provide active support for all the Young Arts Representatives in the area. She feels strongly that if they all know each other, they can learn from each other and work more closely as an effective team. Jenny organises events and provides speakers to inspire and challenge their thinking.
Jenny is a strategic thinker and planner, who has developed an extremely strong ability to quietly steer the Reps to see the benefits of collaboration, which has made Young Arts in the Wessex Area a strong and successful financial and educational support for schools and other organisations. Jenny spends a huge amount of her time visiting, contacting and thanking the Society Representatives for their work and financial contributions.
Jenny is an active supporter of the RBA Star Students programme. She also encourages the continual progress of lectures in schools following the successful launch of The Golden Lectures. She has spearheaded Wessex Areas initiative into the CPD Programme and has developed resource packs and How To leaflets to support Rerpresentatives. Under her leadership Wessex funds one of the largest and most diverse set of Young Arts projects in the country and Jenny gives her expertise willingly in London and in other Arts Society areas when requested.
Rosalie Gowlland, The Arts Society Greater London Area
Rosalie is a dedicated Volunteer of many years and is the Heritage Volunteering Area Representative for Greater London, an Area with many diverse projects being delivered by many volunteers drawn from Societies. Originally this role was shared by two people but since the other volunteer stepped down Rosalie has covered it on her own.
Rosalie is very interested in Heritage, enjoys her role and successfully inspires people to volunteer and matches them to suitable projects. She is careful to try and include people from all the Societies in the Area so that they all have the opportunity to participate.
Rosalie handled the recruitment of a large number of volunteers for the substantial and complex Parliamentary Archives project and helped with the discussions at Westminster to agree the process that all would follow.
She is patient, supportive and enthusiastic with all volunteers, a great all-rounder and always cheerful and positive.
Society Committee Volunteer
Helen Sijsling, The Arts Society Nerja
Helen has been a Committee Member for the Nerja Society for 12 years.
As Chairman, she has overseen a halt in declining Membership numbers which saw an increase from 119 to 167 in 2019. From a mainly British membership the Society now has an international ratio of 57% British and the rest from 13 other countries.
Helen promotes the Society within the community by liaising with local businesses and has instituted better relationships with the most 2 local Societies including an annual joint Committee meeting as a social, cultural and idea swapping medium.
Under Helen's Chairmanship, the Society has supported projects relating to the Arts and in particular youth art for the disadvantaged. For example, immigrant youths in temporary shelter undergoing patriation were given art classes resulting in a major exhibition of their work in the Jorge Rando Gallery attended by senior local City dignitaries and the production of a huge exterior wall mural in the sheltered accommodation block.
Also under her Chairmanship, the Society has initiated a Biennale Art Exhibition of Members' works of art in the Town Hall’s Exhibition Centre, and for the Society’s 25th Anniversary they commissioned a sculpture created by a Member which was presented to the Town Hall and is permanently exhibited in the town’s Cultural Centre promoting The Arts Society to the general public, Spanish and worldwide visitors.
Runner-up Award, Highly Commended for Church Recording
Wendy Woods, THe Arts Society Horsham
As well as being an active Church Recorder in her local group as well as Group Leader of the Horsham Society's church recording activity, Wendy has also been a member of the National Church Recording Team since 1997 advising the Team on issues arising with the recording process and going to groups to train and advise on the methods of recording the contents of our places of worship.
On retiring from the National Team in 2019, Wendy has continued to audit the completed Church Records to ensure that they are correct before they are sent to the Victoria and Albert Library and the National Archives and she is jointly responsible for building up the database content behind the Church Record Index - a secure database of information which can be used to find information in the Church Records.
Wendy was a Church Recording Area Representative from 1996 to 2005 and also had a major role in setting up the Church Recording Style Guide in 1997. Wendy has been involved in the training of members to use the Style Guide - the key document for all Recorders to enable them to produce a Record in the same format. She was one of the team of four who worked in the Museum of London listing the James Powell archives of stained glass windows, an activity which took 4 years to complete.
Lifetime Achievement Award for contribution to Church Recording
Church Recording began in 1973 and Angela was one of the small team of members researching, working with the church, devising and creating the first edition of the Church Recording Handbook (the ‘bible’ for all individuals doing Church Recording). She soon became a Group Leader working with individuals in her Group to train them in what they needed to do to create an accurate Record. In 1985 she became a team member and then Chairman of the committee in 1992 until 1996, with 11 individuals, all recorders, on her team. She has continued as an invaluable senior team member since then being fully involved in every aspect of supporting individual recorders, as well as devising new processes and working closely with the volunteering team in central office. In 2019 she was the lead member of the National Church Recorder team updating of the current 98 page Church Recording Handbook – a huge task.
She has given 150% of her time to working with, advising and helping individuals. Angela has been and continues to be a key member of the auditing team of 3 experienced Recorders who check, and correct if necessary, all completed Records before they are sent to the archives at the National Art Library (V&A), Historic England and Church Care. She is very highly regarded throughout the entire Church Recording family which covers almost 1800 individuals actively recording the contents of their church. This year there will be 2000 Church Records completed and almost every Record will include some measure of Angela’s involvement.
Angela has made a huge contribution to the value of Church Recording within the Arts Society and externally. Without Angela’s involvement, the Church Records stored in the national archives would not be acknowledged as the excellent resource they are: hugely important records of the nation’s heritage.
Congratulations to all the winners!
The awards will be presented later in the year.
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