Journeys of Discovery

Made in China

Made in China Updates


It's been a busy two months of recruitment. Matt has been going into schools and colleges around Durham talking to assemblies. We've had losts of interest in the project and over 30 people have signed up. This year's project looks to be fantastic!

Saturday 16th July

The first meeting of the Stories of the World project group at the Oriental Museum, 14.00-17.00. Come along to hear all about the project, what we'll be looking at and get chance to sign up for the Stories of the World archaeological dig! 

Saturday 23rd July

The Stories of the World team led the 2012 Open Weekend events at the Oriental Museum! They gave three 30 minute guided tours around the museum to the general public and also led a Ancient Egyptian clay Shabti making session! Lots of fun was had by all!

Tuesday 26th July

The first object handling session was held! The Stories of the World team got the chance to handle real museum objects and archival manuscripts. They learnt about the issues surrounding conservation. We also started preparing for the Stories of the World archaeological dig next week!

Tuesday 2nd August

Why are museums full of stuff? Where does it come from? The Stories of the World Durham team are off to excavate a roman fort at Binchester! From the same time as much of  the museum's Egyptian collection, we are going to consider how archaeology contributes to museum collections and the process involved. So roll up those sleeves, fire up those trowls and lets get digging! 

Thursday 4th August

We had a fantastic two days at Binchester Roman Fort. The archaeologists showed us how to excavate the site and we had loads of time in the trenches. We made some amazing dsiscoveries, including loads of cattle bone, a few glass beads, lots of pot and samien ware and even a roman coin! The dig has made us question where museums get their collections from and how, when they're displayed, the objects look entirely different from when they were first found. See below for some pictures of the dig and the things we found!


Friday 5th August

It's going to be a busy day! A group from the Stories of the World youth forum are giving guided tours around the Oriental Museum for the general public. Tours will last half an hour and will begin at 1.30. 2.30 and 3.30. Try and make it if you can!

Saturday 6th August

Never a dull moment here! The Stories of the World team will install a temporary exhibition at the Oriental Museum. The exhibition will be of the porcelain plates produced by the 'Spinning Plates' project. Steady hands people! Here's a few pictures of it being installed!


Thursday 11th August

Fighting through rain and storm, the Stories of the World group went to St John's College, Durham. We went to look at an archaeological 'rescue' dig behind the buildings to compare with what we saw at Binchester. Although it was tipping it down with rain we still heard all about the site and what had been found from our friendly archaeologist Garry. It was really good to see this site as it was really different compared to Binchester and it also made us think about where museums get their stuff from. It's starnge to think all of the muddy-pot coming out of the ground could soon site, polished and prestine behind glass in a museum. We then had a tour of the old buildings from the social historian Adrian and finally went down to the Old Fulling Mill Museum of Archaeology to handle some Chinese porcelain that had been found right here in Durham! From China to Durham.... quite a journey!

Monday 22nd - Thursday 25th August

The Stories of the World Summer School! A number of the Stories of the World team joined a University Summer school exploring the history of Britain and China, 1500-1860. They studied early-European contact with China, how relations developed overtime and the importance of trade. This wasn't done in a boring classroom but through university-style teaching, object handling sessions at the Oriental Museum, and original research at the University archives (handling original archival documents, some of which were oiver 400 years old. The team also clambered aboard the two hundred year-old HMS Trincomalee to experience the sights and smells of British trade with China!


September 2011

We started work on the Made on China exhibition! We did an object handling training session with the museum's collections manager and have started to select objects for display. This has been a really interesting process: from exploring the stores, to searching the museum's database, Adlib. Last Saturday we also got to explore the museum's porcelain collections, from seventeenth-century dinner plates to an eighteenth-century porcelain beer mug, all of which were.... Made in China!

Saturday 1st October

Wow! What a day! The sun was shining, Durham was heaving with new students and we were deep in the archives exploring British relations with China. We got to see and HANDLE four-hundred year old books, including early British maps of China, alongside household receipts from the 1700s. We actually got to see what local north-eastern families were buying in the 1700s, from porcelain plates to Chinese tea from London! What suprised us was that people in the past bought and ate things from really far away, not just local produce. We then explored the Wolfson gallery at Palace Green and thought about how we could display books in our exhibition.

See the photos move!

Saturday 8th October

We spent a rainy afternoon in the stores of the Old Fulling Mill of Archaeology! This is the museum that houses all of the archaeological materials relating to Durham city.... a real treasure trove! After briefly exploring the museum galleries we went into the museum's stores and archives to see whether we could find any evidence of Chinese porcelain that had been discovered in Durham. Wow, what a result! We found box after box containing porcelain, which although it wasn't always Chinese, was often based on Chinese designs! Whether they were fragments of 'willow pattern' blue and white plates or smashed bone China tea cups, it was really interesting to see that people in Durham really appreciated oriental designs and Chinese produce in the past.  

Saturday 15th October

Today we were back at the Oriental Museum! We were exploring Chinese relations with Britain in the nineteenth century. We handled a number of luxury items designed for export including two amazingly carved sowing boxes. Although these looked very Chinese on the outside, on the inside they were designed the same way as English sowing kits. We also looked at some more porcelain and a decorated tea caddy. It wasn't all about trade though. We also looked at items connected with the opium wars between Britain and China in the 1840s and 1850s. Although it was terrible to hear what Britain had done in China we still want to deal with the topic in our exhibition. Here are some photos of the session.

Saturday 22nd and 23rd October - Gibside residential

Stories of the World groups from Durham, Newcastle and Middlesbrough met up together for a weekend residential at the National Turst Gibside estate near Gateshead. We had a great weekend with Dr Bernadette Lynch who spoke to us about dealing with contentious objects when planning our exhibition. We found this really useful, especially because we are dealing with the 'opium wars' in our 2012 exhibition. It wasn't all work though and there were plenty of opportunities to explore Gibside and even to make 'willow wands'. We finished the Saturday evening with a glow-stick-lit walk to a log circle where we sat and drank hot chocolate, ate marshmellows and told the occasional ghost story! For the full write up, see Georgina's blog entry 

Tuesday 25th October

We visited members of the Chinese Association of Newcastle to ask them about their experiences of coming to Britain and about our exhibition generally. It was really fantastic to hear what they had to say and the advice they gave us. Not only this, but we also got to have a free meal! Afterwards we explored the Great North Museum to get some more ideas for our own exhibition.

Thursday 3rd November

A quick session after college. Three of us started planning our video paper for the Stories of the World conference at Leeds.

Saturday 5th October

A really busy session. Half of us began filming the video paper for the Leeds conference whilst the other half started grouping different objects into topics and themes. Things have really started to move, and although arranging objects into themes was quite tough, the exhibition is starting to get a little clearer. We ended the session with a discussion about how the exhibition might look in the gallery.

See the video here - 

Wednesday 9th November - The Stories of the World Conference!

Seven of us went to the Stories of the World conference at Leeds. It was really interesting to hear what other groups from around the country were doing and to have the chance of showing our paper. Matt introduced the project and then pressed play. Everybody was really supportive and people actually came up to us saying how much they liked what we are doing!

See the video here - 

Saturday 12th November - London trip!

We went down to London to visit the National Maritime Museum's new 'Traders' gallery. After an adventure-packed journey across London, we were met by one of the gallery's curators, John, who told us about the process of arranging the gallery and selecting the objects. It was really interesting seeing how they arranged the gallery and presented different topics. In particular, we asked John about how they dealt with the opium wars.