I have spent the greater part of yesterday in the Moseley Room in the basement of the Museum photographing finds from the excavations that took place in Whitworth Park during the summer. Or rather, helping Alan Seabright, photographer at Manchester Art Gallery, to take pictures of the finds.
Alan’s work has already been featured in this blog. It was Alan who photographed the figurines from Koma Land, Ghana, that are now on display at Manchester Museum. We were joined by Ruth Colton and Melanie Giles from the University’s archaeology department.
They kindly brought over a selection of the best objects to be photographed, including complete glass bottles, stoneware vessels, children’s toys and games such as marbles, jacks and a knucklebone, lead pencils, including one marked VIENNA, ceramic figurine fragments, miniature plates from a doll’s tea service, a brush handle, a lead soldier… Gosh this is sounding like the conveyor belt voice-over for an Edwardian edition of the Generation Game! Was Bruce Forsythe on the go even then?
Sam from Conservation brought some of the objects from the excavations that she’s been looking after, including a toy gun (but or maybe it’s a real one), a penknife, a button, leather shoe soles and so on. We worked our way through it all, recording the dimensions as we went, sometimes putting a scale in shot for publication purposes, sometimes leaving it out for marketing and publicity use.
The preservation of the glass is extraordinary. Only occasionally is there a chip missing. Many of the bottles have writing on them, giving the name of the manufacturer, sometimes an address. One manufacturers at Upper Brook Street is not very far from Whitworth Park. One of the more unusual pieces was a small glass vessel with a corroded top, sealing the contents, which we speculate to be either perfume or medecine.
My thanks to Alan, Ruth and Melanie for supporting this session. Parklife: Pleasure, Play and Politics in Whitworth Park opens in May at Manchester Museum and will run until October 2014.