Tag Archives: learning

Dear Amie: Inspiring formerly trafficked women through postal uniforms

During the past two years our Community Learning Officer, Hannah Clipson, has been developing our audiences in the run-up to opening The Postal Museum. Through engaging new groups we have been able to interpret our collection in new and exciting ways. We have created strong and sustainable bonds with formally under-represented groups who now see us and objects as relevant and of interest. In this post, Hannah shares what she has been up to with the Amies, a group of ten women who are survivors of trafficking.

Established in July 2014, delivered in collaboration with the October Gallery and supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, we engaged with the Amies over a 12 week period. The 10 ladies were originally brought together by PAN Arts, a London-based arts company, and The Poppy Project. This summer we built upon this project, working with the Amies and partnering with the October Gallery, The Mary Ward Centre and The Calthorpe Project. However, this time, we looked at postal uniforms throughout the ages, and used them as inspiration to make our own textile items. Through a series of images, we’ll share what we have been up to.

We started off the project looking at the various bags that have been used by postal workers over the centuries. Inspired by the telegram messenger bags, we made our own versions to practice simple sewing skills.

Leather pouches made by the women, inspired by the telegram messenger bags

Leather pouches made by the women, inspired by the telegram messenger bags

We developed our sewing skills at the Mary Ward Centre through making a bag with a zip using sewing machines. This got the whole group ready to tackle making a skirt, inspired by the post women’s uniform during the First World War. To make the skirt, we explored images from the collection and experimented with patterns, and had a fabric printed containing our favourite images.

Nanda cuts her stamp designed material to make her bag

One of the women cuts her stamp designed material to make her bag

Mani making her bag on the sewing machine

One of the women making her bag on the sewing machine

Asia and Paulina look at images from our collection to inspire our skirt fabric

The group look at images from our collection to inspire our skirt fabric

Mani shows us her ideas for a pattern

One of the women shows us her ideas for a pattern

Nanda works on sewing her skirt

One of the women works on sewing her skirt

One of the fabrics we had digitally printed

One of the fabrics we had digitally printed

Being able to build upon this project and working with these women has been an absolute joy. Seeing the women grow in confidence and help each other to learn new skills (both textile and life skills) whilst using our collection as a platform has been hugely worthwhile and humbling. Partnering with the October Gallery and The Mary Ward Centre has also enabled us to learn new skills from peers; invaluable as we continue to move forward developing our audiences for The Postal Museum. Next steps include planning our next project with the women at The Postal Museum and developing our first community inspired exhibition at our archive in Freeling House. Watch this space!

-Hannah Clipson, Community Learning Officer

This project is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

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New FREE Learning Resource for Key Stages 1-3

It has been 175 years since the invention of the world’s first postage stamp – the Penny Black. Pop It In the Post is a new FREE downloadable learning package that reveals how this little piece of paper changed the way people communicated forever.

Learning Resource - Cover

JUST A PENNY! 

In 1840 the idea that a letter could be sent anywhere in Britain for just one penny was revolutionary. For the first time ordinary people could afford to send letters, and the effect was as wide reaching as the introduction of the Internet.

Pop It In The Post supports learning across the curriculum and includes:

  • A downloadable learning resource containing lesson plans, teacher’s notes, image galleries and Powerpoints for whiteboards
  • Over 100 activity ideas, using real archival documents, photos, maps and museum objects to support subjects including Literacy, Maths, Science and Art and Design.
  • A fun animated interactive game for pupils to play and explore the story of the Penny Black
  • A short film introducing pupils to Rowland Hill, the social reformer who led the campaign for letters to cost just a penny who explains how his big idea changed the world.

This learning package was sponsored by Royal Mail Group

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Adventures in Digital

Hello, my name’s Rose and I’m a student at University College London, where I’m studying for an MA in Digital Humanities. As part of my course I spent ten weeks completing a placement at the BPMA, working with Martin, the Head of Digital, and Rachel, the Digital Media Manager.

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One of the main projects I worked on involved creating 3D models of items from the museum collections using photogrammetry, which I wrote about previously. I’d already learnt a little about the techniques involved, and this project gave me some valuable practical experience putting those lessons into action. It was amazing to be given access to photographic equipment and modelling software, and to have the freedom to experiment with different techniques. I benefitted a lot from the Digital Team’s photography knowledge, and I’m very proud of the models our experiments produced! Check them out here: https://sketchfab.com/postal

3D model of Stamp Snake. You can manipulate the model here: https://sketchfab.com/models/8c78b277cb0c4b2c9a3901970c94e2f4

3D model of Stamp Snake. You can manipulate the model here: https://sketchfab.com/models/8c78b277cb0c4b2c9a3901970c94e2f4

Another project involved digitisation work of a different kind, scanning historical maps and documents. A highlight was handling documents related to the sinking of the Titanic, and learning about the Post Office and Mail Room which were on board. This really made me appreciate how unique a resource the BPMA’s collections are.

I also digitised the negatives of maps depicting different postal routes; it was fun to take a small piece of film and digitise it to reveal the detailed and colourful illustrations it held. Digitisation can help preserve the museum and archive collections and make them more accessible; it’s exciting to think these images could help engage people in the story of Britain’s social and communications history.

Newly digitised map ready if needed for The Postal Museum!

Newly digitised map ready if needed for The Postal Museum!

I really enjoyed my time at the BPMA as I was given the opportunity to develop so many new skills and to work on more projects than I have space to mention! I’m interested in seeing how digital technologies continue to play a part in the BPMA’s work, and especially in the new Postal Museum. My placement gave me a valuable insight into life in the museums and heritage sector, and I’m extremely grateful to everyone I met who took the time to talk to me about their role.

A Bloomsbury Tale

Since August we’ve been working with local communities as part of a project for the Bloomsbury Festival. Our recent work with children from the 1A Arts Centre has been filmed and will be part of A Bloomsbury Tale, made by artist Elaine Duigenan. Funded by a cooperative of Bloomsbury institutions including the Charles Dickens Museum, Holborn Community Association and BPMA, the film showcases the wonderfully diverse nature of the cultural and historical experiences the community has to offer.

A scene from A Bloomsbury Tale.

A scene from A Bloomsbury Tale.

Free tickets to a screening of the film on Sunday 20th October are now available, and you can enjoy a complimentary glass of wine as you view it in the beautiful surroundings of the Art Workers’ Guild. A limited number of tickets may be booked online, or alternatively you can simply turn up on the day.

Children from 1A Arts Centre being filmed for A Bloomsbury Tale.

Children from 1A Arts Centre being filmed for A Bloomsbury Tale.

The Bloomsbury Festival runs until 20th October 2013. BPMA is part of a number events for the Festival – see our website for full details.

Stamps in Schools success

Yesterday, in an award ceremony held at the British Museum, our volunteer Stamps in Schools co-ordinator Erene Grieve became joint national winner of the Marsh Christian Trust “Volunteers for Museum Learning” award, 2013.

Erene receives her award.

Erene receives her award.

Erene has been running the Stamps in Schools project for the past seven years. Stamps in Schools workshops introduce pupils to the history of stamps, and the idea of starting their own stamp collection. Erene provides ‘stamp days’ in Primary schools which have been run throughout the UK, from Inverness to the Isle of Wight.

Erene running a workshop at Sherwood School.

Erene running a workshop at Sherwood School.

Erene won the award for the London region in May. At yesterday’s ceremony Erene met the other regional winners before the national winner was announced. The judges found it impossible to decide an overall winner so Erene shares her national prize with Nathan Lightowler of the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland.

Joanna Mackle, Deputy Director of the British Museum said:

Museums large and small are reliant on the contribution volunteers make to ensure the smooth and successful running of their organisation. The Marsh Awards recognise the vital work that volunteers do in museums across the country.

Upon receiving the award, Erene said:

There’s something magic about hearing a child say “Thank you that was brill”, or even “That was cool”, or even “This has been the best day of my life!” You don’t walk out of the school thinking, “I wish I’d got paid for that”. You go out thinking, “This is wonderful”.

We’d like to congratulate Erene and say thank you for her ongoing commitment to volunteering with the BPMA.

Erene with BPMA Director Adrian Steel.

Erene with BPMA Director Adrian Steel.

Visit our website to find out more about Stamps in Schools.

Marvellous Magic at Camden Family Fun Day

Coram’s Fields is once again playing host to the Camden Family Fun Day on Saturday 15 June. The theme is ‘Marvellous Magic’, but what magic do BPMA have up their sleeves….

Over the years people have been sending messages through the post in mysterious ways – secretive letters with hidden content! Join us at our stall to investigate these methods of sending secret messages and design your own. How will you make sure yours isn’t seen by unwanted eyes, a folded letter, an origami fortune teller or perhaps invisible ink?

Have a go at making your own folded letter or origami fortune teller.

Have a go at making your own folded letter or origami fortune teller.

The Camden Family Fun Day will be taking place at Coram’s Field, from 1pm to 5pm. We’ll be joining lots of other organisations from the Camden area to take part in this special family event – packed with activities, art and craft workshops, dressing up and more.

The young at heart can join in the fun too!

The young at heart can join in the fun too!

Suitable for: Any age
When: 1-5pm, Saturday 15 June 2013
Where: Coram’s Field, 93 Guildford Street, London, WC1N 1DN
Admission: Free

Stamps in Schools – a free BPMA sponsored outreach service

Hello, I’m Sally, the new Schools Learning Officer. It’s my job to develop our formal learning programme for students of all ages. I’m currently trialing workshops for Primary schools in London. You can find out more about our plans, including how to book a free workshop for your school on our website.

Another part of my job is to support the BPMA sponsored Stamps in Schools outreach service. This is co-ordinated by retired teacher Erene Grieve, and provides free sessions to primary and secondary schools throughout the UK.

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A small selection of Erene’s stamp collection.

I recently accompanied Erene on her latest Stamps in Schools visit to Sherwood Primary school in Mitcham, Surrey. I thought I’d share some of the great photos from the afternoon, and tell you about what schools can expect from a session.

Erene began by telling a story about the sack of stamps she saw advertised in the newspaper and sent away for at the age of nine. The sack cost a few shillings and was full of hundreds of stamps. She showed the original sack, and explained this purchase sparked her lifelong interest in stamp collecting.

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Erene sharing her passion for stamps.

Erene used a colourful display of real stamps and other materials from our collection in an interactive presentation about the history of the postage stamp. This included an opportunity to see a Penny Black, a quiz to identify old and new commemorative and definitive stamps from all over the world and a competition to guess the most valuable stamps.

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Here’s me getting stuck into the stamp activities.

Students completed cross-curricular tasks on Stamp Activity cards that tested their new found stamp knowledge. Then, they were given their own small ‘sack’ of stamps from around the world and arranged them symmetrically on squared paper, just like a real stamp collector!

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A neatly arranged page of stamps.

Finally, the students chose some commemorative and definitive stamps to keep and start their own stamp collection.

Sherwood Primary school is lucky enough to have a growing Stamp Club. This visit, enthusiastically described by one student as ‘the best afternoon ever’ has no doubt increased the number of budding collectors.

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One of Sherwood Primary school’s stamp collectors.

More about Stamps in Schools

  • Each session lasts for about one hour, and can be delivered to a class, or as a school assembly.
  • It has cross-curricular links to a wide range of subjects including Literacy, Numeracy, Geography, Art and Design, or Citizenship.
  • Sessions can be tailored to link to class topics such as ‘The Victorians’ and ‘Communications’.
  • All materials such as stamps, postcards and activity sheets are provided free of charge.
  • Example activities include: writing postcard messages, calculating weights and postal charges, and designing a stamp.
  • Erene is happy to provide follow up support to help schools start their own Stamp Club.

We’re currently taking bookings for Stamps in Schools book via our website.

Archivists and Academics

Last month I attended the Teaching History in Higher Education Conference at Senate House. As an archivist, rather than an academic, I was a little nervous. However I am pleased to say that I was made very welcome and came away with a range of ideas for activities that could be adapted to our future work plans at BPMA.

Alongside considering the logistics of moving our collections and the content of our new exhibition space, we are also planning the types of activities we will undertake in our New Centre, including our involvement with formal education.

A life long learning group visits our Museum Store.

A life long learning group visits our Museum Store.

We are already involved in a range of formal and informal learning activities, including collaborative PhDs and teacher placement schemes, but are keen to expand this offer in future. As such the conference provided an interesting insight into the key concerns of the higher education sector and inspiration for potential future activities.

The sessions on workplace learning were particularly relevant. The BPMA’s engagement in this area has been minimal to date, due to both limited staff resources and difficulty in designing activities which are mutually beneficial to both parties. However the presentations on this area gave an insight into the types of projects that could be undertaken and provided ideas for possible future development.

A group of student teachers tours the Royal Mail Archive.

A group of student teachers tours the Royal Mail Archive.

Allannah Tomkins’ paper on the use of creative writing was also useful. Creative writing is an area that the BPMA has explored in our work with school groups. The Post Office itself also has a strong literary tradition with former staff including Edward Capern (the Poet Postman), Flora Thompson (famous for Lark Rise to Candleford), and most notably Anthony Trollope. Therefore there is plenty of scope for exploring historical and literary links in more detail.

The conference provided some interesting ideas, and also some useful contacts. Over the coming months the BPMA will be considering if and how we can embed these ideas into our plans for the future. Watch our website for information on forthcoming activities.

Helen Dafter – Archivist

Majestic Magic

BPMA is participating in a Family Learning Fun Day at Coram Fields, near Russell Square tube station, this Saturday, 22nd September. The theme will be knights, princes, princesses, kings and queens, and it is a free fun day for families with children up to 12.

Attendees will have an opportunity to make fantastic crowns and tiaras, design their own maze and create a wonderful castle. There will be storytelling and music for the little ones and the whole event takes place indoors so you won’t need to worry about the weather spoiling the fun!

Make a crown at the Majestic Magic day.

Make a crown at the Majestic Magic day.

The BPMA will be offering two hands-on activities. In “Stamp Champs”, families will have a go at a card-matching quiz – trying to match pictures of British kings and queens to their stamps. In “Glam Stamps”, parents and children will get to practise their art and design skills, using colouring pencils, collage materials and jewels to make their own glamorous stamp to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.

The Majestic Magic Family Fun Day will take place in Coram’s Fields, 93 Guilford Street, London, WC1N 1DN, on Saturday 22nd of September from 1 to 5pm.