Thursday, May 14, 2009

Hi honeys, I'm home! (plus a couple of photos from Wales)

Hi honeys, I’m home from our short break in North Wales! It was, by necessity, a very short break indeed, but it did my state of mind good nonetheless. I really need these completely off line/away from the PC breaks to keep me sane and functioning. ;-)

North Wales is practically on our doorstep and we try to visit once a year. The coastal scenery, the landscape of Snowdonia, the fresh air and peace -- it’s a favourite getaway destination. Luckily we can cross the border into Wales in around 90 minutes!

We pretty much always visit LLandudno -- a favorite Victorian coastal town that is especially disabled friendly with a wide, flat promenade and accessible shopping area -- but we hadn’t visited the Llandudno WWII Home Front experience before, so I put it top of the list for this trip.

This is a small private collection of British WWII memorabilia, lovingly put together to recreate the experience of living in Britain during WWII. You are led through the period from the heartwrenching announcement: "we are at war", to ration books, ID cards, clothing, gas masks, entertainment, uniforms, visual propaganda, weapons, medical equipment, and all manner of collectable items.

Here I am by the women’s landworker section. This part was especially fascinating for me. Many years ago, as part of my Masters degree, I wrote about the visual propaganda of the period and how the image of women changed and grew because of the home front needs.

At the start of the visit you are given a WWII torch to help you see everything in the displays and to find your way in the "blackout." This is especially important when you get to the air raid shelter. Here I am, amazed to be inside an actual Anderson air raid shelter!

As soon as I went in there, I was inspired. So many images and thoughts assailed me. I also thought about my author pals who write passionate novels set in the 2 world wars: Jina Bacarr and Victoria Janssen. Notice how -- in the second photo –- I’m more subdued as I listen to the sounds of war...

Once you’re in there the warning lamp flickers and the siren sounds. Then you hear the sound of the bombers coming in and children crying. Emotions tumble in. The shelter suddenly seems so fragile... You can just see me clutching my blackout torch!

This is a much recommended collection to visit if you are in North Wales. A true inspiration.

Once last photo, here I am (wrapped up warm!) on the harbour at Conwy, a walled fortress town with a stunning castle. My current work in progress, INESCAPABLE, is partly set in Conwy and North Wales. It was good to touch the place again and think about the story in situ, rather than at the keyboard.

Now I’m at home and I'm trying to get back into the groove. Honest. :)


Sue aka MsCreativity said...

Sounds like you had a fab time and the photos are great! The WW11 Home Front Experience sounds amazing! Will add it to the list of 'places to visit'. Thanks for sharing.

Sue xx

Jax Cassidy said...

Looks like you had a grand time! I love exploring and visiting museums. I really miss going to art galleries. I need to pencil it in this year. Glad you had a good time no matter how brief... :)

Elle Amery said...

Thank you for taking us along on your trip! Amazing how reenactments can link one to an event at a visceral level, isn't it? I teared up when you mentioned hearing the children crying. No wonder you look subdued in the second photo. . . .

What specialty was your MA that had you studying visual propaganda? My MA was in women's history, so I'm always intrigued when someone mentions women in history. - ELLE

Saskia Walker said...

Hey Sue! It's a small collection, but it's well worth a look.

Jax, you and me both. I used to visit the local collection wherever I went but got out of it for a while. I'm getting better at checking what is on when I'm out and about.

Elle, I bet you had a poster of Rosie the Riveter on your wall...just like I did. :) Lots of women's history for me too! My MA is in Literature and the Visual Arts in Britain 1840-1940. My BA is in Art History and Cultural Studies in Europe and the USA. I opted for courses such as Feminism in Britain and Women in American Society, and I attended a Marxist Feminist Uni for my first degree - lots of reclamining the women's angle. ;-) I began PhD research on art, race, and culture between the wars, but it was then I realised I had to write my own tales instead.

Yes indeed, the interactive aspects of a collection can really bring it to life, and that was especially true in this case. The air raid shelter was in darkness, and I didn't even realise Mark was going to take a second photo of me until the flash went. I was just sitting there listening, shivers running up my spine...

Janine Ashbless said...

Hoorah, Blogger is letting em comment again!

Love your holday snaps - I'm always keen to see other people on holiday. The museum sounds good. There's a similarly themed (but I think larger) one in Yorkshire called Eden Camp, which I really enjoyed when I visited.

Victoria Janssen said...

That museum sounds AWESOME.