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Curator's Pick: Clare Hunt

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Paul Sargeant Paul Sargeant | 16:39 UK time, Friday, 13 August 2010

Clare's pick from the siteHere's another in our series of Curator's Picks, where we ask a curator to take a look at the objects that have been added to the site and pick out a few that catch their eye.

This week's curator: ClareThis week our curator is Clare Hunt, Keeper of Art for Southend Museums Service. She starts with an object from their own collection, and one which is particularly appropriate for a website accompanying a radio series.

The EKCO AD65 radio from our museum is a real source of wonder to me. Never mind it being a style icon of the classy art deco period, it also represents the innovation in materials and technology that EKCO always strived for.

The factory in Southend on Sea employed thousands of people in its heyday but most of them could never have afforded the top of the range AD65. No wonder - it is still one of the most sought after radios for museum and private collections alike.

And, if you are lucky enough to come across a working model, the sound is deliciously undigital ...is that a word? Perhaps not, but those who like the sound of vinyl records over CDs will understand completely!  

Radio is certainly something that the UK gave the world (via an Italian with a factory in Chelmsford) but her second choice is something that the British imported with envious greed. It's also another object that was once coveted by the wealthy but slowly became more affordable: fine china.

I have chosen this Chinese bottle vase for no better reason than a love of Chinese ceramics and their simple beauty. But I am also fascinated by the story of Chinese porcelain and the west's addiction to it.

Because the secret of how to make fine china was kept for so long, it was desperately bought up by western countries that were addicted to the fineness of the clay and the wonderful painted designs. In my opinion, you still can't beat a bit of good blue and white willow pattern!

After two expensive rarities, Clare has picked something which was brought to a BBC Somerset event that a working person could afford: a bonnet. In fact, it's the bonnet's humble origins that make it special.

A bonnetI love to see costume that was worn by everyday, working people. Strangely enough, these are rarer in museums than the fancy clothes of the upper classes; loads of museums have a pair of Queen Victoria's stockings - just how many did she have exactly?

It never fails to amaze me the sheer amount of clothing that women wore all year round. This bonnet, made to keep the sun off the face and the back of the neck, must have been hot in the summer. Add that to the many layers of petticoats and corsets and yes, you would have fainted too.

And finally an intriguing object that may be an early draft of the famous map of the London Underground or may just predate the map all londoners rely on. Though as Clare points out, it's a map that isn't really a map.

I love maps (hate 'sat nav') and wish everyone was able to use them in order to appreciate their surroundings. The tube map, however, is a special case. It is easy to forget that it is actually a piece of iconic design.

This map of underground railways reminds us that the one we are so familiar with doesn't represent the distances between stations or their relationships to each other at all. You might not believe it when you see their confused faces, but it does make the tourists' lives a little easier.    

You don't have to seek out a tourist to see tube confusion in effect. Just look at me trying to figure out an alternative route any weekend when my usual line is suspended for engineering works.

Thanks to Clare for her pick of objects from the site. We'll have another Curator's Pick soon.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Great choice of objects and particularly interesting about the radio factory - have found all the blogs so informative.

  • Comment number 2.

    Fascinating objects; particularly the tube map. Thank you.

  • Comment number 3.

    What a fascinating contribution to a fascinating series, a real turnaround from the sometimes precious and fusty image of museum and art treasures. Clare makes it all so accessible, many thanks to her. I especially liked the bonnet!

  • Comment number 4.

    Original and fascinating,and for a change objects that lesser mortals can really relate to.Well done indeed.Someone lent me a Satnav once;I got it wet and got lost.

  • Comment number 5.

    Glad that people are enjoying the Curator's Picks. We've had some great objects added to the site and I particularly enjoy some of the more modest ones.

    Nearly everyone has something at home that they can add to the site, if they look at it in the right way and think about how it fits in with our daily lives and how they've changed - even just in the last few decades.


    Paul
    AHOW blog editor

  • Comment number 6.

    Great selection of objects - I especially like the lovely round art deco radio.
    It would be nice to see the tube map close up so perhaps I'll pop in and take a look next time I'm in Southend.
    Clare's background knowledge about the objects really makes them come alive.
    Thank you!

  • Comment number 7.

    My mother worked at the Ekco factory in Prittlewell from about 1957. And it's true what you say about the workers there not being able to afford to buy what they were busy soldering.
    However, the factory did have a rather good gala every year, if memory serves....
    .

 

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