‘A Northumberland Menagerie’ is 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. Museums Northumberland and Bethan Maddocks invite you to explore our menagerie of extraordinary new animal-themed exhibitions across our four museums. Discover stories of Northumberland’s animals – past and present, real, and imagined – through Bethan’s magical, paper-cut installations.
‘Work, Rest and Play’ is inspired by the pit ponies that worked in coal mines including here at Woodhorn Colliery. Pit ponies spent most of their lives underground, working and living in underground stables.
The artwork explores three key parts of pit pony life; hard work down the pit, being brought to the surface for heydays and holidays, and being put to pasture at the end of their working life. The wooden structures are inspired by woodworking ‘horses’- simple wooden structures used for making and manual work.
You can see a display of objects connected to pit ponies (including Flax) from the museum collection in the display cases outside this gallery. You can also find out more about pit ponies in the Colliery Stables during your visit.
With artist thanks to: Jona Aal for technical assistance, Catriona Maddocks and Rémi Bec for artist assistance, the Staff at Museums Northumberland, the many artists, collaborators, and researchers who helped along the way and to all the communities, both human and animal, who donated their time and stories to ‘A Northumberland Menagerie’.
‘A Northumberland Menagerie’ has been made possible with public funding from Northumberland County Council and Arts Council England.