New Memories made at the Great North Museum

We held our last two workshops at the Great North Museum in Newcastle on 9 and 10 May.  Our deepest thanks go to Alex Boyd for making us feel so welcome, and especially to Andrew Parkin for all his help.

Andrew showed us around the Museum’s extensive collection of Roman objects with a Middle Eastern or North African connection.

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Andrew also made available a range of different Roman objects that we could use in the workshops.

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We were allowed to handle these for closer inspection – provided we were careful!

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As at our workshops in the Petrie Museum in London, participants had the chance to explore how best to light and photograph these objects, under the guidance of Rory Carnegie, our professional photographer.

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People also enjoyed drawing these objects, and others in the Museum’s collections, helped by our artist, Miranda Creswell.  Many used silver leaf to enhance their pictures.

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Participants were also inspired to write about objects, with the assistance of Sarah Ekdawi. Sometimes they described memories evoked by the objects, or they imagined how the objects themselves might feel about taking part in the workshops. We also experimented with the use of thin metal foil that could be embossed with images and words  – with or without the help of a mirror!

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All the participants could take home with them the drawings, photographs, writings, and memories that they created.  With their permission, we have posted copies of their creations on our Gallery page.

We are very grateful to the Great North Museum, and the Petrie Museum, for being such welcoming and generous hosts. We are particularly grateful to everyone who came along and participated in our workshops. They all said how much they enjoyed themselves, and we have certainly been impressed by the quality and range of works that they were inspired to create. We are thinking about how we can preserve all these creations more permanently and accessibly – please watch this space!

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An Eastern Empress remembered in the North

Making pots in the form of a moulded human head was a unique Romano-British fashion in the 3rd century. This example in the Great North Museum seems to have the face of the Roman empress Julia Domna, one of the most powerful women in the ancient world.

Julia Domna pot - Copy (364x500)

Julia Domna came from a prominent Syrian family and married the future emperor Septimius Severus, who was born in what is now Libya. She was a patron of writers and philosophers at Rome, and travelled to Britain with the imperial family in AD 208.  She probably lived in York while the army campaigned north of Hadrian’s Wall. They left Britain after Septimius Severus died in York in AD 211. Her sons Caracalla and Geta became co-emperors, but Caracalla soon murdered his brother and ruled alone. Julia Domna remained at the centre of power, managing all imperial correspondence until Caracalla was killed by a bodyguard in AD 217.

Was this pot a souvenir made to commemorate Julia Domna’s time in Britain? What memories would people have had of this remarkable empress when they saw it? What memories does it still hold? We will explore these ideas in free workshops at the Great North Museum in Newcastle on 9 and 10 May. Come along on one of the days or email us in advance to book a place: rememberingromans@gmail.com