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Culture Heritage Learning

WW1 South African Native Labour Corps

7th November 2017 by Scran | 0 comments

Original caption reads ‘At the window of one of their huts’

Amongst the many thousands of photographs from the National Library of Scotland to be found on Scran, there is a collection called Images of War. These were taken by official War Office photographers during World War One and form part of the Haig Papers. This astounding and often arresting war photography contains a small set of 21 images, which tells the story of the South African Native Labour Corps, referred to as the SANLC.

Some 20,000 South Africans worked in the SANLC and took part in World War One, however due to South Africa’s segregationist policy, black South Africans were restricted to non-combatant roles. The SANLC were discriminated against because of the racist attitudes of the period which meant that black South Africans were not enlisted as combat troops, but only in the Labour Corps. They laboured in the docks, in salvage, supply, burial and other non-military jobs. They were used as cheap manual labour but were denied the right to serve in the army or to be given any recognition of the role they played. In part this was due to the South African government’s fear of the native claims for land.

Labourers display shell damaged radiator to the camera

When the SANLC were recruited, the units tended to be organised on the basis of their homeland tribe or region. In part this was to avoid problems from traditional tribal feuds, but it also reflects the fear of the South African government that the different native groups would combine against the existing white rule.

Although the SANLC were not meant to be deployed in combat zones, there were inevitable deaths when the docks or transport lines on which they worked were bombed. The greatest tragedy was the sinking of the troopship SS Mendi on 21 February 1917, when 617 members of the SANLC were drowned in the English Channel. The SANLC had operated in the fight against the Germans in South West Africa since September 1916, but the Labour Corps for the Western Front was established and camps set up in 1917.

Original caption reads ‘Smiling and Warm’

The various Labour Corps included many non-European groups such as the South Africans (SANLC), Egyptians, Chinese, Cape Coloured and Indian Corps. They were not only restricted from contact with white Europeans but were also segregated into different racially-determined Corps. Unlike some of the other labour contingents, the SANLC were not awarded any medals after the war.

World War One saw the development of a system of ‘official’ reporting by professionals especially recruited into the forces. Several of the SANLC series of photographs have been attributed to photographers John Warwick Brooke and Ernest Brooks.

SANLC dancers performing a traditional war dance

Initially reluctant to allow cameras near the fighting, it took some time for authorities to appreciate the propaganda and recording potential of photography. The cheerful appearance of the SANLC men is possibly deliberate propaganda on the part of the photographer, to counterbalance the reports of strikes and unrest among the various nationalities of Labour Corps, when they felt their conditions were unreasonable, or their original contracts had been broken. These photographs provide us with an invaluable record of how the Government and Military wanted the war perceived. 

Images © National Library of Scotland Licensor Scran

 

 

Heritage Arts Award in Stirling

26th September 2017 by Scran | 0 comments

Stirling Townscape, Valentines postcard 1878 – University of St Andrews Library

Guest blog by Sarah Longfield, all about our new project.

Our partnership project led by See Think Make CIC & Scran part of Historic Environment Scotland, will take place during Year of Young People, 2018.

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Arts Award is a series of qualifications for children and young people accredited by Trinity College London. Heritage is very much seen as part of the arts world and young people can focus on any traditional craft or more broadly heritage based creative roles, such as curating as part of their Arts Award Portfolio.

To date, there have not been many heritage organisations in Scotland taking up Arts Award. However, at the Museum Association Conference at the SEC last Autumn, we were blown away by the amount of interest in the awards and by the open friendliness of all the creative learning professionals we encountered.

So, we decided the best way to promote Arts Award’s potential in the heritage sector was to put our money where our mouth is and go out there and deliver a fabulous project. We found Jackie at Scran who was enthusiastic about working in collaboration and also hooked up with Fiona from Scotland’s Urban Past. From there we talked with lots of partners in Stirling, including The Stirling Smith Museum & Art GalleryThe Engine Shed, St.Modan’s High SchoolStirling Castle, Forth Valley College, Culture Stirling and the project started to take shape.

At the beginning of this month, we heard we had got a grant from Heritage Lottery’s Young Roots fund so we’re now getting ready to launch!

So what is the project?

Map of Stirling 1820

To start with, a group of around fifteen 15-25 year olds will come together to use the heritage of Stirling as inspiration and resource for a Silver Arts Award.

Silver Arts Award encourages young people to develop their artistic practice (any art form), delve further into the world of the arts in the locality and to work together on a leadership project.

The group will have the opportunity to work with a range of artists and heritage experts including the outreach team at Scotland’s Urban Past and take part in a traditional arts workshop at the Engine Shed.

Then, next April, the group’s leadership project will be to devise a creative virtual and/or physical heritage trail for other young people. This trail will involve arts activity, discovering artists and some way for those taking part to share what they have created/discovered. All young people who have completed the trail will receive a Discover Arts Award.

The young people will chart their progress in a digital Arts Award portfolio, culminating in achieving the Silver (equivalent to level 5 on the SCQF). More details on the awards can be found at www.artsaward.co.uk or for Scottish specific case studies: www.seethinkmake.co.uk

 

 

 

 

Images © National Library of Scotland & University of St Andrews Library Collections Licensor Scran

John Duncan

22nd August 2016 by Scran | 0 comments

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Saint Bride, 1913

John Duncan was born in Dundee in 1866, and began his career at the Art School at the age of 11. He went to London and Germany and spent four years as Professor of Fine Art in America. It has been said of some of Duncan’s work that it is “transportation from the land of fairy fancy“.

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The Evergreen, illustrated 1896

 

 

 

Duncan was one of the most eclectic and idiosyncratic Scottish artists associated with the Celtic Revival movement which encompassed both visual arts and literature during the 1890s and in Edinburgh derived its guiding inspiration from the philosophy and aesthetics of Sir Patrick Geddes.  Duncan believed that art would and should play a part in shaping national identity.

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Joan of Arc & her Scots Guards

 

Steeped in the study of early Italian fresco painting, Duncan familiarised himself with experimental techniques of tempera then widely practised by his own contemporaries among the mural painters of France. He amalgamated the flattened linear forms of the Renaissance and the modern tradition with the spirals and interlaces of Celtic design to create a distinctive style which was deliberately dreamlike and otherworldly.

9Although known for his painting & illustration he is also responsible for the Witches Well at the Esplanade,  Edinburgh Castle. This ornately designed bronze well was made in 1896 and erected in 1912, following a suggestion by Patrick Geddes. It commemorates the witches and warlocks who were burned at the stake on the Castle Hill from 1479 to 1722. It is believed that no fewer than 300 were dragged up to the spot, tied to a stake, and burnt.

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The plaque inscription reads: ” This fountain, designed by John Duncan, RSA is near the site on which many witches were burned at the stake. The wicked head and the serene head signify that some used their exceptional knowledge for evil purposes, while others were misunderstood and wished their kind nothing but good. The serpent has the dual significance of evil and wisdom. The foxglove spray further emphasise the dual purpose of common objects.”5 (1)

 

 

 

 

 

He died in Edinburgh in 1945.

Image © National Galleries of Scotland, Mike Small, Estate of John Duncan, Historic Environment Scotland  Licensor Scran

Treasure, Targes & Tartan too.

25th February 2016 by Scran | 0 comments

Following on from our engagement work discovering Jolomo, there was whole-school learning through the visual arts in both Dunbarney & Abernethy Primary Schools – it could be said there was a hive of artistic activity.  So, let’s have a look at some distinctly Scottish outcomes.

P1/2 – got to grips with all aspects of tartan, weaving & some Katie Morag for good measure

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P4 – carefully considered and constructed a targe each to carry into battle

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P5 – created treasures inspired by Mary Queen of Scots through jewellery design &  feltmaking

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P6 – updated Burnsimage using Pop Art to produce drawing & painting portrait work

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All of this fantastic artwork was celebrated in an exhibition Inspired by Scotland, visited by family & friends over the course of several days.  Pupils also performed song, dance & poetry in an expressive arts event, drawing the whole project to it’s conclusion. Finally Scran would like to congratulate the staff & pupils on a job well done!IMG_1125

Images © National Museums Scotland, Blairs Museum, James Gardiner | Licensor Scran 

Dunbarney Discovers Jolomo

23rd February 2016 by Scran | 0 comments

IMG_1074Last month we told you about Scran working with Art & Design in Perth & Kinross, well here’s some of what we got up with Primary 7, in Bridge of Earn. Armed with a mobile art studio, laden with materials the class found inspiration in the work of Jolomo.

Through a series of research tasks and group conversations the class got to grips with heaps of visual and contextual information from Scran.  They expanded their visual literacy skills, extended their vocabulary with such terms as impasto and gained a new appreciation of Scottish Art.

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To deepen this understanding the pupils then created their very own paintings influenced by the techniques used by Jolomo.  The class had gone walk about with their cameras to capture the local landscape using photography. Their pictures were then used for each individual composition on canvas.

FullSizeRenderFullSizeRender (1)FullSizeRender (3)FullSizeRender (2)The pupils were able to explore using new materials such as texture medium to build up the surface of their work. Next they considered the vibrant palette and colours often used by Jolomo and mixed similarly lively hues for their own landscapes.

FullSizeRender (4)FullSizeRender (5)FullSizeRender (6)IMG_1099The culmination of the P7s’ hard work & focused learning was a whole-school exhibition Inspired by Scotland, which not only included these great paintings but all sorts of  arts activity – but more about that later…

Meanwhile over in Abernethy, Primary 7 were busy exploring their locality through Jolomo as well! They got creative with their texture too, adding in mixed media & all sorts, to create impressive effects too.

IMG_1146IMG_1147IMG_1151IMG_1153Thanks to Mrs McLaren & P7, all the staff at both schools and not forgetting the pupils, for making this successful partnership project and learning adventure happen – keep on creating!

Art & Design in Perth & Kinross

22nd January 2016 by Scran | 0 comments

049446This term in Perth & Kinross, two schools are working in partnership with Scran to focus on Expressive Arts. Both Abernethy Primary School Dunbarney Primary School are taking a whole school approach to teaching Art & Design.

Before Christmas staff came together for the project brief. The challenge was to come up with common schemes of work for each year group, across both schools. Below are the topics each year group is investigating at present;

  • P1/2 – all aspects of tartan & weaving01980159
  • P2/3 – Roman life & collage
  • P4 – Wallace & Bruce through targe construction
  • P5 – Mary Queen of Scots through jewellery &  feltmaking
  • P6 – Burns by drawing & painting portrait work
  • P7 – Scottish Landscapes looking at Jolomo

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As well as these Studying Scotland themes, classes will be identifying opportunities for IDL. Significant aspects of learning and progression pathways are being addressed throughout the teaching & learning activities which are currently underway. This area for development is set to conclude during mid February, when both schools will exhibit the pupil outcomes, inviting parents to come in to celebrate the pupils’ achievement.

08470019Evaluation & moderation is an integral part of the project. Exemplars of pupils’ work will then be used during InSET on as the basis for a school Art & Design moderation.  Scran continues to provide support, subject specific knowledge and will also be doing Kite Aerial Photography, as an extension activity during the Spring with selected classes. We’ll keep you posted on their progress & share some of the outcomes in the coming weeks.
Images © Historic Environment Scotland, Trustees of Burns Monument & Burns Cottage | Licensor Scran 

The Christmas Card Phenomenon

9th December 2015 by Scran | 0 comments

Festive Greetings06712558

Christmas greetings cards have become a regular feature of the traditional British Christmas with billions changing hands within the UK each year, but where did this tradition begin and why did it continue to thrive?

Humble Beginnings?

The first Christmas card is thought to have been designed by British artist John Calcott Horsley in 1840. With the invention of the telephone still over 30 years away, sending hand-written letters by mail was the primary means of communication. Faced with the tedious task of writing to all his friends and family members with Christmas greetings, a friend of Horsley, civil servant Henry Cole, conceived the idea of a printed card bearing a suitable message which could be signed and sent to one and all. Horsley embraced the idea and produced a design which was published in 1843. Cole had 1000 of the cards printed and placed on sale at the rather princely sum of 1 shilling each. Little did he realise just how popular his idea would become!

National Mania

09230757Times have changed since Henry Cole’s moment of inspired laziness: mail is no longer the mainstay of communication. The telephone network has joined up the remotest corners of the world and the cheap, paperless, instantaneous communication afforded by e-mail has threatened to make ‘snail mail’ altogether obsolete. The Christmas card, however, goes marching on, and in no small way.

We are still crazy enough about Christmas cards to cause enormous disruption to the postal system every December. This year, postboxes will be stuffed with an estimated 2 billion cards and on the busiest day the national mailbag will contain almost double its usual 84 million items. Such is the congestion that Royal Mail recommend posting second class seasonal dispatches 8 days in advance to guarantee arrival in time for the big day.

Conscientious Choice

06712561Two billion cards amounts to a lot of paper and a lot of spending. Many consumers are now looking for more conscientious ways to enjoy the tradition. Each year, around a quarter of shoppers will choose charity cards in the hope that good causes can benefit from their seasonal spending. However, the percentage of proceeds finding their way to good causes varies widely. Research by the Charities Advisory Trust suggests that some charity cards are just not all that charitable after all: the most miserly example they uncovered passed only 0.3% of proceeds to the named good cause. Others will aim for a more ethical celebration by boycotting Christmas cards altogether, feeling that their seasonal goodwill is better expressed by not contributing to the tonnes of paper waste generated from cards each year.

‘Tis the Season to Recycle?

  • 06710368An estimated 1 billion Christmas cards and 83 sq km of wrapping paper will end up in our bins this year
  • We bought around 7.5 million Christmas trees in 2001: at least 1.1 million were recycled
  • 20 – 30% more glass and cans will be collected for recycling over the festive period

Christianity back into Christmas?

Horsley’s original card had its opponents too, but for different reasons. It bore an image of a family raising their glasses to Christmas which incited fury amongst Puritans of the time. In what was still very much a Christian state the uproar was caused by the association of the evils of alcohol with the sanctity of the feast of Christmas. It is interesting to note that, while scenes of the Nativity and other connected imagery went on to become regular features in the design of Christmas cards, the genuine article was quite secular in its design.

Controversy about the presence or absence of Christianity in Christmas traditions rages in Britain to this day with many Christians bemoaning the seeming transformation of the feast from a religious event into an orgy of consumerism. Others would praise the fact that in our modern British society, one characterized by a far more diverse range of religion and cultural traditions than the Victorians would have recognised, the goodwill of Christmas is now often shared across faiths and cultures. The disagreement reaches beyond the UK too. In 2005 the president of the USA received angry feedback about the official White House Christmas card: the secular design of the card horrified some recipients (it featured two of the head of state’s pet dogs frolicking in the snow on the White House Lawn).

Question of Taste

The official White House card illustrates how the sending of Christmas cards has become protocol in the USA. The same is true in Britain: businesses are careful not forget their customers, and refuse collectors all over the country will receive cards from perfect strangers during the season. Is a Christmas card from the paperboy evidence of lasting Christmas spirit or just a hint that a tip might be in order?

A wide variety of designs have evolved to suit these myriad purposes. Horsley’s original design showed a scene of Christmas cheer. Cards like this are still popular, alongside Nativity scenes and informal cartoons. When the Christmas card was still a relatively new idea the Victorians became very fond of elaborately engineered pop-up and trick cards. Nowadays, hand-making cards is a popular hobby and parents everywhere are still best pleased with the lovingly prepared designs in glitter and glue brought home by their sticky-fingered schoolchildren.

What makes a good Christmas card? Can a piece of stationery really embody the Christmas spirit? Why not try making a Scran card to find out? Search for an image and click Create to make a greetings card in a few easy steps and see if you can make someone’s Christmas!

Images © Scottish Life Archive, The Scotsman Publications Ltd | Licensor Scran

Views of North Berwick & Vicinity (3)

20th October 2015 by Scran | 0 comments

Here’s the final update on the partnership work with Mrs. Dalgleish’s wonderful Primary 5 class, at Law Primary School in East Lothian. After bated breath, the wind got up enough strength allowing us to complete our exploration of aerial photography. The sun shone, we went outdoors & finally flew the kite aerial photography kit. See how we fared by browsing through the gallery below.

During an InSET session yesterday Law Primary School staff had a presentation detailing the full project. It was agreed that the class had achieved their learning intentions & much more besides.

  • I will be able to use Scran confidently to research a topic
  • I will have a better understanding of aerial photography
  • I will help to curate & create an exhibition

You can download the attached CfE learning experiences & outcomes for the project.

Before signing off, we’d like to say a big Scran thank you to Mrs.Dalgleish and everybody in P5 who made this such a success!

Imagery © Portrait of John Marr, East Lothian Museums Service / Various Aerial Images RCAHMS – Licensor www.scran.ac.uk

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Local Art meets Local History

9th October 2015 by Scran | 0 comments

Killermont get creative with Scran - Collage Frieze

You may have read about our collaborative school activity at Killermont Primary School, in Bearsden? This 6 metre long frieze is the result of P6’s hard work & creative flair.

After thinking about the work of Willie Rodger, individual figures were printed by each pupil. These silhouettes represent Bearsden commuters, dashing to and from the railway station. Next, the class cut up pictures of local housing built following the arrival of the railway in 1863 – bringing businessmen & prosperity to New Kilpatrick. Finally, the local buildings & commuters were collaged together.

The class proved to be highly successful art detectives too – at home they researched the artist Willie Rodger using Scran. They shared their findings in class the following day. Astute observations were made & we discovered plenty of visual clues hidden in the imagery.

Following a group vote, with 6 votes each from of a class total of 32, the two most popular Willie Rodger artworks were The Chess Players & Honeymoon.

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