Open Treasure – How I See It!

For this month’s blog post, we’ve asked our Young Curators to share their thoughts and experiences of Durham Cathedral and Open Treasure.

Young Curators provides unique opportunities for young people aged 11 to 16 to engage with the Cathedral and its collections. Over the last few months, our Young Curators have enjoyed a Show-and-Tell session in the Cathedral Library as well as workshops with local artists including Mick Stevenson, who created Litre of Light for Lumiere 2015, and Northern Print, who are helping the Young Curators produce lino prints inspired by the architecture of Durham Cathedral.

The Young Curators have also been developing a new guide book for younger visitors to Open Treasure, the Cathedral’s new world-class exhibition experience due to open in summer 2016.  So this blog post is not about how we see Durham Cathedral and Open Treasure – it’s about how our Young Curators see it!

What does Durham Cathedral mean to you?

  • Durham Cathedral is more than just a church. It’s rare that I walk in and don’t just stare in awe or learn something new. Most importantly, one feels at home here (James, age 13)
  • Durham Cathedral is a place of remembrance and infinite possibilities (Caitlin, age 14)
  • It’s all about peace for me. I come to get peace and happiness. I’m not religious but I love to sit and think (Abigail, age 13)

 What is your favourite fact about Durham Cathedral?

  •  It may not be a fact but a myth, however the story that the Cathedral was going to be bombed in WWII but clouds covered it (Harry, age 13)
  • Possibly the different stories behind the stained glass windows… there are too many to list! (Daniel, age 15)

What is your favourite thing about being a Young Curator?

  • Being able to make a lasting imprint on the history of Durham Cathedral (Harry, age 13)
  • Being a Young Curator, you are able to contribute to the Cathedral and learn new things every session (Declan, age 15)
  • Getting to see precious objects and explore the most wonderful building in the world (possibly the universe: still pending discussion) (Daniel, age 15)

 Why did you want to become a Young Curator?

  • It was suggested by my history teacher whilst I was on holiday with my school and I thought it could be fun. I love being involved in different projects (Abigail, age 13)
  • To discover more about the Cathedral and to broaden my horizon of knowledge (Harry, age 13)

What skills have you learnt since becoming a Young Curator?

  • How to develop ideas from an early stage into a polished and finished piece of work (Harry, age 13)
  • I have learnt how to take prints and learnt how to store artefacts (Lauren, age 13)
  • Handling artefacts, art skills, everything really! (James, age 13)

What did you enjoy most about the ‘Show-and-Tell’ session?

  • I loved seeing the old books which had hand-drawings of unicorns and griffons among real creatures like lions and whales. It was nice to think how strange and un-explored the world was back then (Daniel, age 15)
  • Being able to see the beautiful books and the images inside them (Declan, age 15)
  • Looking at a nineteenth-century geological survey (Mackenzie, age 12)

 What did you learn from your session with artist Mick Stevenson?

  • How awesome recycled things can be and what you can make from them (Lauren, age 13)
  • I learn that anything can become a master piece (Abigail, age 13)
  • That art can be made from anything and nothing is a waste (Caitlin, age 14)

What did you learn from your session with Northern Print?

  • To experiment and try new things which may be outside your comfort zone. To take your time with a project in order to develop your skills (Harry, age 13)
  • I learnt how different inks can produce very different results and that you can use more than just one type of ink. There are no rules! (Daniel, age 15)

 What have you enjoyed most about creating a new guide book?

  • To be able to learn and then teach others what I’ve learnt (Abigail, age 13)
  • Being able to have my own ideas for it (Lauren, age 13)
  • Looking at other guides and taking ideas from them (Declan, age 15)

What aspects of Open Treasure are you most looking forward to?

  • Being able to say ‘I did that’ (Harry, age 13)
  • All the artefacts being more accessible (James, age 13)
  • I am looking forward to being able to add my own labels and descriptions to items (Caitlin, age 14)

 How have you been inspired by Young Curators? Has it changed your attitude towards Durham Cathedral and its collections?

  • Yes it has because the Cathedral didn’t interest me before but now I am anxiously anticipating my next visit! (Caitlin, age 14)
  • My attitude towards Durham Cathedral and its collections have remained the same as I knew they were fantastic. However the Young Curators has made me want to take part in more projects (Harry, age 13)

Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time?

  • I see myself in University studying archaeology, forensics, history or geography (Abigail, age 13)
  • Academic work in the humanities (James, age 13)
  • Being a policeman or a detective (Nathan, age 13)
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