In 2022 Museums Northumberland will present ‘A Northumberland Menagerie’, a stunning series of new exhibitions by artist Bethan Maddocks.
A ‘menagerie’ is the term used for a collection of wild animals kept in captivity for exhibition, and we invite you to explore four extraordinary new animal-themed exhibitions across our four museums: Berwick Museum and Art Gallery, Hexham Old Gaol, Morpeth Chantry Bagpipe Museum and Woodhorn Museum.
Discover stories of Northumberland’s animals – past and present, real and imagined – through Bethan’s magical, large-scale paper-cut installations.
At Berwick Museum and Art Gallery, ‘Of the Sea and Of the Sky’ will shine a spotlight on the rich diversity of Berwick’s borderland coast and explore connected themes of migration, national identity, and natural resources. Follow the journeys of migratory birds through an evolving installation of national flags and discover the ‘oddest consignment from Berwick Quayside’. A spectacular, spot-lit centerpiece will encircle visitors within a swirling mass of birds, fish and mammals that underpin Berwick’s fishing and tourism industries.
‘Over Familiars’ at Hexham Old Gaol will share animal stories connected to witch craft, trials and incarceration in Northumberland. Plunge into the depths of the oldest gaol in England to discover shadowy creatures lurking within the dungeon. Upstairs in the museum, a curious collection of elevated spinning wooden plates – inspired by the story of the Witch of Seaton Sluice – will invite visitors to consider gender and class inequality within the historic witch trials and within the walls of the Old Gaol itself.
A stunning school of papercut fish will flow through Morpeth Chantry Bagpipe Museum as a playful reference to the Chantry building’s former use as a school on the banks of the river Wansbeck. ‘Thou shalt have a fishie, When the boat comes in’ will explore Northumberland’s fishing and folk traditions through local songs and lyrics held in the Northumbrian Minstrelsy.
At Woodhorn Museum, the historic colliery Cage Shop will be transformed into a giant beehive in ‘Bees, Bees, Hark to Your Bees!’. Continuing the folkloric tradition of ‘telling the bees’ important news, visitors will be immersed in stories and invited to share their own. Inside the museum, ‘Putting Out to Pastures’ will centre the stories of pit ponies, drawing parallels with the hard work, close community and environmental impact experienced by colliery communities.
You can follow Bethan’s work in progress on this page and through the Northumberland Menagerie instagram feed
Find out more about Bethan on her website. www.bethanmaddocks.com
A Northumberland Menagerie has been made possible with public funding from Northumberland County Council and Arts Council England.