World War Two: The People’s Story
4 July – 12 September 2015
To mark the 70th anniversary of VE Day, Braintree District Museum will be bringing World War Two to life in a new way this summer. The museum will be exploring what the war was like for those living on the Essex Home Front in a thought-provoking exhibition running from 4th July to 12th September 2015, but we will be telling the story of life at home through the voices of local people rather than a museum professional.
The museum has been interviewing people from across Braintree and surrounding villages as part of an exciting local oral history project. Visitors can hear the testimonies of evacuees to the area, Land Army girls, those who contributed to civil defence across the District and even the experiences of a German POW in Essex. As John White, an evacuee from Edmonton, recalls on arriving in Rayne, “when we got to the poultry farm, Mrs Smith introduced us to Mr and Mrs Moss. I was frightened as they were complete strangers. Then we were shown around the farm and we saw animals we had never seen before like cows and chickens. I was terrified of the goats with their strange staring eyes, thinking they were unicorns because of their horns. I remember being afraid that I was going to be fed to them.”
Come and hear how local life was affected by air raids, the arrival of American GIs at nearby airfields such as Wethersfield and Andrews Field, or learn about the work undertaken in local factories – Courtaulds, Crittalls and Warner & Sons. Art enthusiasts will also be able to enjoy work by the war artistsEdward Bawden and Eric Ravilious who lived in Braintree District, including Bawden’s print of Dunkirk and Ravilious’ submarine series with kind permission from the Towner Gallery, Eastbourne.
Visitors of all ages are welcome to join in this evocative and moving exhibition, discovering how the impact of war could be felt not just on the continent or over London but much closer to home too. Could you have been a roof spotter, recording enemy and allied planes above? Make some VE Day bunting to decorate our walls and see how much food a child of the 1940s received as part of rationing restrictions.
The Museum will also be hosting a World War Two Event Day on Saturday 1st August.
26 March – 29 May 2015
Sara Impey and Anglia Textile Works
This latest exhibition at Braintree District Museum features quilts by internationally acclaimed local quilt artist Sara Impey, plus eight quilts by Anglia Textile Works.
Sara Impey specialises in stitching text with the sewing machine, writing her own material and using the textile surface to experiment with wordplay. She originally trained as a journalist and uses her textile pieces to explore social and personal issues through texture, pattern and colour. Every exhibition is therefore not just visually beautiful but also thought-provoking. Sara exhibits nationally and internationally, including at the Museum of Arts & Design in New York, and has won many awards. Her work is incorporated in public and private collections, including at the Victoria & Albert Museum. The exhibition at Braintree District Museum also features quilts by members of Anglia Textile Works which formed in 1997 and is a nationally recognised exhibiting group of well-known contemporary textile artists, all of whom live and work in East Anglia.
We are really pleased to be hosting Sara’s exhibition and making an internationally-acclaimed artist’s work accessible to local people. The museum is also delighted to be promoting and celebrating the design achievements of all the local artists involved in the exhibition. Sara’s unique blend of the written word and textile design, created through her intricate stitching, makes this a distinctive exhibition that appeals to both those interested in craft and in social commentary and the written word.
Sara Impey will be giving a talk on her work at the museum on Wednesday 22nd April at 3pm. Tickets for ‘Writing with a Needle’ will be just £3 on the door, please call the museum on 01376 328868 to book a place. Copies of Sara’s book, ‘Text in Textile Art’ is available in the museum shop, along with beautiful hand-crafted cards by members of Anglia Textile Works.
‘Between the Lines’
An exhibition by EAST (The East Anglian Stitch Textile Group)
This exhibition will showcase work by textile artists who have explored the First World War from different perspectives, from life on the Western front and the role of women to the effects on landscape and nature, allied armies, mapping, armaments and the reflections of writers and artists in the1920s.
Braintree District at War: 1914 – 1918
5 August – 19 December 2015
This exhibition forms part of the museum’s First World War Centenary programme. Key items on display include an exhibition unique to Essex of uniform, weaponry and equipment relating to British, French and German soldiers at the beginning and end of the war, and an original ‘Roll of Honour’ film produced in 1919 for the Braintree Picture Palace. This contains photographs of local men who fought and died in the war.
There are also a range of items on display relating to the Home Front, from local industries which made vital contributions to the war effort to ration books and a fragment from the Zeppelin bomb that killed 4 people in Braintree in March 1916. This was kindly lent to the museum for the exhibition.
Around the gallery is an interactive trail for families and schools, which includes an interactive map of Braintree at the end of the war and the chance to try on a Brodie helmet and replica gas goggles to help imagine what it would have been like for the men at the front.
Jennifer Brown, Collections and Interpretation Officer, says: ‘This exhibition has Braintree’s role in this global conflict at its heart. It is made from the stories of local people and an amazing collection of artefacts that have been donated or lent to the museum. Hopefully visitors to this exhibition will feel that they have had the chance to connect with the experiences of local men who fought in the war, and also find out some interesting facts about life at home and the vital contributions of Braintree’s industries to the war effort.’
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