The start of the Change Minds Creative Term began with a visit to the Castle Study Centre, Shirehall in Norwich. Many thanks to Ruth Battersby-Tooke, Curator for such an inspiring talk and showing us some of the museum artefacts to give us an insight into what life may have been like at the Norfolk County Asylum.
Above: Black handmade shoes with STAH stamped on the bottom of the shoes, possibly size 7. Made for people resident in the workhouse.
We were shown some strong clothing. This clothing was not used for restraint but to stop people from harming themselves or taking off their clothes but not to restrict movement.
Above: Strong shirt, there is a brass closure on the back of the garment secured with a security screw.
Above: Strong dress, reinforced heavy cotton twill material which also would have been worn with a heavy petticoat underneath.
We were shown the attention to detail when this dress was made, using a nice flowery material with a fake collar embroidered onto the top of the dress. The back of the dress had metal eyelets and would have been laced together. The closure was discreetly hidden from view at the back of the dress. This dress had the St Andrews Hospital laundry mark.
Above: Ruth showed us an embroidery showing the evacuation of Dunkirk, created by John Craske, a patient who had frequent admissions to St Andrews Hospital.
John was born in 1881, lived in North Norfolk and was a fisherman as well as having a fishmonger business. When Johns health declined and he was no longer able to work as a Fisherman, he began to paint. John obsessively started to paint maritime scenes and was able to sell some of his paintings. When John became bedridden he learnt how to embroider, using an old deckchair frame as a stretcher for the fabric, he was able to work on small sections of the picture at a time.
This was the last embroidery that John created. When his health declined, John sent for this embroidery to complete whilst in hospital, sadly he died before being able to complete it. You can see the space at the top of the picture where he was trying to finish the sky scene.
Above: Embroidered letter created by Lorina Bulwer.
In 1895 Lorina went to stay in the lunatic ward of the Great Yarmouth workhouse which is where she stayed until she died in 1912. Lorina’s story was a very interesting one as she wasn’t from a poor background. She had lived with her mother but it seems that after her mother died Lorina couldn’t cope living on her own. Soon after Lorina was moved into the Lunatic ward of the workhouse, possibly to be close to where her brother lived so that he could visit her. Through her letters, Lorina expresses her feelings about being in the workhouse and the other people who were living there as well as her thoughts about her family. The language used in the letter is at times challenging and there is no punctuation, which can make it difficult to read. Ruth estimated that it would have taken about six months for Lorina to create this embroidery.
(Link to transcription on webpage https://frayedtextilesontheedge.wordpress.com/links/)
Looking forward to the next session on Thursday 26th July for a creative writing workshop with Martin Figura.