@MarDixon Passionate about culture. Champion for the next generation of Cultural visitors. Defender of Libraries. Digital, Wearable Tech Enthusiast. Sharing knowledge. Troublemaker and/or advocate, depending on what you need.
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    May 31st, 2017mardixonCulture

    Today we attended the Canaletto & the Art of Venice at Queen’s Gallery. Rachel has provided this guest blog – hope you enjoy!

    Canaletto, a unique artist, captures the beauty of Italian architecture and city scenes from the 18th Century, which we are able to still enjoy and recognise today.

    This morning, Lucy Whitaker, Senior Curator of Paintings at the Royal Collection Trust of the Queens Gallery (part of Buckingham palace) gave a tour of the Canaletto exhibition.

    She informs us that while 18th century’s Venice was no longer the political powerhouse  it used to be after Napoleon invaded, the City of Venice was still in its last great century of glory. This exhibition celebrates Venice at that time and the artist Canaletto forms our idea of Venice as we see it through his eyes.

    Whitaker explains that Canaletto might not have been so successful without the support of Joseph Smith, a British merchant and art collector and dealer who lived in Venice and became an avid collector of his work.

    Because of Smith, Canaletto’s work travelled across Europe and was especially popular with the British aristocracy who were particularly drawn to the city of carnivals, music and costumes.

    As we enter the exhibit, we are greeted with two great paintings of a Regatta on the Grand Canal on Ascension day in Venice. The paintings reveal the grandeur of the Regatta, as gondolas float under the Rialto Bridge.  This day was a great festival, to which many British hurried across Europe to see. A ring would be thrown into the sea from a gilded barge, a symbolism of Venice’s maritime power at that time.

    Because Joseph Smith was close to Canaletto and was his biggest supporter, he commissioned a series of six drawings of Venice in 1723. Smiths collection in the end contained 200 pieces of Canaletto’s work when Smith finally sold his collection for £20,000 to George III.

    Now the pictures are at the Royal Collection gallery infrared images have been done to see the meticulous drawings Canaletto made underneath in the process of producing his paintings.

    The gallery has made the exhibit so it seems as if you are moving through personal Palazzo of Smith. He had earned his fortune from trade and lived in Palazzo Balbi, near the Rialto, which Canaletto later included in one of his Venice paintings. Later in the exhibit there are also paintings of Rome that Canaletto completed from some sketches and his memory, while living in England many years later.

    Unlike British tourists,  Venetians didn’t buy the work of Canaletto as they didn’t like the typical views and city sights that he often depicted. In this time paintings of history and mythology were the most prestigious paintings.

    This exhibition shows however characteristics that link Canaletto with the other artists of his time by revealing his amazing knowledge of oil painting techniques.

    Alongside Canaletto’s stunning works is art work by the female artist Rosalba Carriera. It was unusual to have successful female artists at that time but she was also supported by Smith in the 1720’s. She started by painting Snuff boxes and then moved onto art pastels drawn in chalk, which became very popular. A good luck token, very common in the 18th-century, has been found hidden inside Rosalba Carriera’s pastel A Personification of Winter by Royal Collection Trust’s conservators.

    This is for me, the most beautiful of her paintings at the exhibit and I was drawn to it before knowing it was where she hid her good luck token. Hidden between the pastel’s wooden support and canvas liner, the token was found during conservation work.

    Instead of framing the good luck token, the Museum team decided to keep it on the frame of the Winter picture to preserve it’s good luck.

    A multimedia guide provided to all visitors is the perfect companion (2nd to a personal curator tour!) for interpreting the exhibition. A well written tour that presents interesting interviews and expert opinions, it’s another fine tour production from ATS Heritage.

    Royal Collection Trust/ © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017

    The learning room was also a source of joy with different activities available for all ages.

    The exhibition is on from Friday, 19 May 2017  until Sunday, 12 Nov 2017.

    Rachel Rigby is a freelance travel and events journalist who is always looking for her next adventure. For more information contact her on rachelrigby@hotmail.com.

     

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    May 26th, 2017mardixonCulture

    As Hull is City of Culture for UK, Linda Spurdle, Mark Macleod and I decided a few days there was needed. We arrived on Monday and left Thursday and took in so much culture!

    When we first arrived in the train station the first thing you notice is all the signage of how proud they are to be City of Culture. The next thing I noticed was all the volunteers – they were brightly colour uniforms and are so friendly!

    After dropping our bags off, we went down to see Spurn Lightship and walked around the Old Town. There are so many places to eat, drink, explore. Read the rest of this entry »

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    May 8th, 2017mardixonCulture, International

    Recently I was able to attend #SharingisCaring in Hamburg to run a workshop on using social media and being social about it.  I had a great time and challenge people to create social media content from random items I placed on their table.

    The brilliant thing about the timing of the conference is it fell in line with their Long Night in Museums program. I’ve been to a few Late Museums nights (in Europe and Russia) and what I really love about them is they are open ALL.  NIGHT.  Not just until 10 or 11pm – but 3-4-5 am.  In Hamburg the added bonus was the ticket price of €15 includes public transport – how amazing and inclusive is that?  Read the rest of this entry »

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    April 13th, 2017mardixonCulture, International, Tech

    Lately I noticed something on social media that I didn’t really like seeing.  I had hoped I was wrong but decided to ask others their thoughts:

     

    I felt I should share a few of the responses here.  What is important to remember is I was not talking about all museums or in one area.  It seems to be an international issue and I’m pretty sure it’s not because the social media managers like this either!  Maybe management feels social media managers have everything scheduled so can do 25 other things that really aren’t under their remit.  Social media managers rock and we shouldn’t at all blame them – most I spoke to privately hate it as much as we do!

    However, brands (and museums are a brand) do sometimes forget that numbers aren’t the answer – loyalty also plays a role and can’t always be quantified. Does that mean it doesn’t matter?  Of course not!  And does it mean that museums, especially larger, more popular museums should respond to every one who tags them?  Of course not.  But it does mean they need to at least be shown to make an effort – even just once a day to engage with visitors and non-visitors.  It doesn’t hurt to ask someone who tags you how they are doing….

    I also asked on Facebook and LinkedIn and the responses were an eye opener. What are your thoughts? What can be done to make social media more social and get us back to having conversations instead on constant marketing and pr jammed down our throats?

    And for clarification, I need to add that this is the same on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram – so it’s not a platform issue.

    LinkedIn

    Mät King
    It’s a common problem with social media. People and companies tend to spend more time trying to engage with celebrities/bigger brands/more popular museums etc than actually engaging with those who follow or engage with them. This hierarchy is a very odd consequence of class structure/knowing your place and a general insecurity common to many who have been part of an organised education system. It’s very similar to how people will listen to those with no qualifications or , indeed, abilities in a subject because they are famous or are born with a title.

    Facebook

    Look forward to hearing your thoughts!  

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    April 4th, 2017mardixonCulture, International

    I was incredibly fortunate enough to get a look at Sir John Soane’s Museum latest exhibition Marc Quinn: Drawn from Life whilst recently in London.

    Each of the twelve sculptures is created from casts of Quinn and his muse, the dancer Jenny Bastet, in a series of embraces. Their interlinked arms appear to be fighting, loving, holding or supporting – or even all at once – reflecting Quinn’s recurring fascination with the physical ambiguities of human emotion.

    Marc Quinn marries together the architecture beauty of the Soane’s Museum with contemporary art in a very sympathetic way.  I personally loved how each piece seem to have been at the location for years.  As I was there, some people walked right by without even recognizing it was a different piece.  That to me is a great sign of fitting in.

     

    Read the rest of this entry »

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    March 27th, 2017mardixonCulture, International, Personal

    It’s something we’re all too used to – funding cuts & threats in the culture sector.  Whether it’s museums, libraries, art galleries or theatres (and everything in between), culture seems to have been the easy hit for most of the people with the purse strings.

    It’s been happening globally for more years than necessary and recently the new American administration has threaten NEA, PBS and other vital funding streams many of the museums and art galleries in the states rely on to survive. [NB See #ThankyouIMLS #StandUpForMuseums #SaveTheNEA #SaveTheNEH and #ThankyouNEH]

    As many may or may not know @CultureThemes was created purely out of the funding cuts that happened in the UK.  While it was great for many museums (and social media managers) to discuss what this meant, it was vital that the conversations were open for all (eg young people and other ‘groups’ that are hard to reach, etc).  The first hashtag with CultureThemes was ‘WhyILoveMuseums’ and went world trending – why?  Because people do love museums and art galleries but we need to ASK THEM every once in awhile WHY.  This goes for staff also!

    Recently I decided to do the same thing in a subtle way.  (Any sadly the day I asked it my phone broke so apologies for the delay in getting this shared).

    For the Twitter & Instagram responses I was able to do a Storify which you can find at the bottom of this article or link is here.  For those that prefer infographics, there’s a free site for that …

    The over-arching ideas is for museums to share stories from past, present and the future.  Being there for the next generation to learn from is also highlighted.

    Read the rest of this entry »

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    February 16th, 2017mardixonCulture, International

    February 15th – the day after Valentine’s Day.  The perfect day to ask the public,  museums and culture venues internationally to share items they would like to see go into #Museum101 (like George Orwell’s 1984 book and Room 101).

    The idea came when I mentioned to Linda Spurdle I was trying to think of a hashtag that would acknowledge the current issues *cough politics cough* but didn’t create a platform that could be turned into something personal. #Museum101 was a perfect solution.

    With every CultureThemes, I try to keep the ‘this is what it is/mean’ statement to a minimum to allow people to make it what they want.

    Who knew that for over 8+ hours #museum101 would be trending?

    Read the rest of this entry »

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    February 10th, 2017mardixonCulture

    It’s been awhile since I did a review and there are two amazing exhibitions I recently saw in London, the first was the David Hockey exhibition and second is Robots at the Science Museum.

    I was fortunate to be able to attend the David Hockney press preview whilst in London.  Normally press previews are very nice events that give you time to explore the art without a lot of people and fuss.  There is also a few talks, usually from the curator, sometimes it’s the press people.  And there is usually tea/coffee and biscuits.

    This press preview was completely different.

    It. Was. PACKED.  And I mean wall to wall with people writing, photographing and filming.  I was able to go through in my normal style, pretty rushed in each room, go back the opposite way and then through again to see what I missed.  The problem: normally I go into a room to find just one or two things I like (it something me and Charlotte have always done to avoid art fatigue) but with this exhibition that was impossible – I *liked* everything!

    Read the rest of this entry »

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    February 1st, 2017mardixonCulture, International, Personal

    Almost on a daily basis I’m being contacted about a hashtag for culture to show they care about what is going on in the world. #RefugeesMakeCulture #dayoffacts #thankyouNEA #thankyouIMLS and more.

    My concern is we are going to dilute the message and overwhelm the same people we want to support. We also have to remember that not everyone wants to campaign and just want to escape to visit to see art, parks, museums etc.

    Being international I’m also fully aware that not everyone can (or should) get involved in some of these campaigns – either it just doesn’t make sense politically or with their collection.

    So while my personal account will support many, I am not sure I feel comfortable using Culturetheme, MuseumSelfieDay or AskACurator for all these events. I hope I don’t sound old and cranky! I’m just trying to respect the diversity of followers that have come to follow for fun, weirdness and escape the norm of how culture is perceived. Hope that makes sense.

    And don’t forget #Museum101 is Feb 15 🙂 a bit of fun for people to say what they’d add to their ‘Room 101’

    For more information, this is from CultureThemes:

    For February, we’re shifting gears just a bit for #Museum101 theme on February 15th.  What is #Museum101?  Well if you ever heard of George Orwell’s book 1984 he talks about Room 101 where you can put things you fear or don’t like/understand in the room (ok it’s more about torture but we’re not getting into that for our theme). 

    Lets remember that CultureThemes exists to highlight and spotlight the need for culture in our society, internationally. 

     

     

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    January 25th, 2017mardixonCulture, International, Tech

    This is a guest post from Fabio Viola.  

    Sometimes dreams come true. For a guy grew up in the ’80s with a game pad in his hands and history in his mind, the co-presence in the same space of astonishing Farnese’s collection statues and displays showing a videogame has been a “connecting the dots” moment.

    Yesterday the Archeological Museum of Naples showcased “Father and Son”, a coming soon videogame that set a first time, in Italy and worldwide, of a museum acting as a pure game publisher.  Since the’90s, cultural institutions has experienced videogames mainly as an educational platform with the aim to spread the message among a young audience (k6 target).  With Videogames entered in the adulthood and videogamers almost equally split among men and women  aged 35 years old, I strongly believe it is the right time to connect this young art form with the “established” cultural forms creating an intangible thread between on-site and online experience. A useful tool to bring the museum outside the museum and shift from the “traditional “storytelling to what I call storydoing.

    “This game helps us to achieve one of the museum’s new Strategic Plan objectives activating a new way to connect with the audiences. From anywhere around the world, you can interact with our Institute and the city of Naples. We want to be perceived in the world as an innovative hub, a place where the cultural vision is pursued without barriers”, says museum’s director Paolo Giulierini

    Father and Son is a 2D side scrolling narrative game that explores the feelings of love, dreams, fear and the passing of time through the story of an archaeologist and the son he never knew. Throughout the game, the main character crosses the lives of people from different historical eras: Ancient Rome, Egypt and Bourbon Naples. What begins as a personal experience, becomes a universal and timeless story where the present and the past are a set of meaningful choices. Players will assume the role of Michael: after receiving a letter from his archaeologist father he never knew, the protagonist goes to MANN to find out more. From here a journey through the ages begins, from ancient Rome to Egypt, passing through the Bourbon age and coming up to the Naples of today. The player will thus be able to explore the streets of Naples, along the halls of the museum and interact with the stories through the ages.

    Ludovico Solima, associate professor of Management of Cultural Organizations, Second University of Naples: 

    “With ‘Father and Son’ the museum aims to reach and engage new worldwide audiences in an unexplored way.  We’ll evaluate carefully the qualitative and quantitative results of this first time approach to the gaming”.

    In Father and Son, each player’s choice will affect the story and lead to different endings. Michael will interact with different characters and will have to make important decisions that can influence the entire narrative. The aim is to fill in gaps not only about his father’s life, but also the characters he meets along the way. And only at the end, will Michael be able to rediscover himself, thanks to meetings with characters from the past and present.

    All this would not be possibile without TuoMuseo, a no profit organization active in the intersection between cultural heritage and videogames/gamification made up of a team with years of experience in the industry: Fabio Viola (Electronic Arts Mobile, Vivendi Games Mobile,), Sean Wenham (Ubisoft, Sony), Alessandro Salvati, Arkadiusz Reikowski, Salvatore Savino, Vitalba Morelli, Massimiliano Elia, Fabio Sarracino.


    The free game will be downloadable on mobile devices, via App Store and Google Play, with furthers platform under evaluation during the 2017.

    Thanks again Mar Dixon for your hospitality and for your vision of a museum as a “wonderful playground”.

    Follow the game on the official website or feel free to reach us out on Facebook or Twitter or info[at]tuomuseo.it.

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