Santa baby…

Funnily enough, it’s very much frowned upon for curators to take items from the collection home and it’s certainly something no one at MUSA would ever consider doing.  That’s not to say that we can’t dream and there are a few things we wouldn’t mind Father Christmas slipping into our stockings this year.  Here’s what some of our staff would like to find when they wake up on Christmas morning…

Ian Carradice, Director of Museum Collections:

William Murray's silver archery medal - a possible weapon?

“I don’t think the St Salvator’s Mace would fit in a stocking, so I’d settle for the silver archery medal of William Murray, later Marquis of Tullibardine (1689-1746), dated 1706.  Two reasons.1: it’s funny – try shooting an arrow accurately from a bow with your legs crossed while wearing a very big hat! 2: it’s the second heaviest medal in the collection, so I could always use it as a weapon if someone tried to do me in. On a more serious note, a sad future awaited the teenage winner of the medal: a lifelong Jacobite, he spent much of his adult life disinherited and in exile. He ended up dying imprisoned in the Tower of London after the Battle of Culloden.”

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Rebecca Berger, Trainee Learning & Access Curator:

Peter Pan - a beautiful decoration?

“The main trouble with working in and around a museum store is knowing we can never take home all the objects that would make nice home decorations. The one that tempts me most is the nice little statue of Peter Pan given to University Hall by former rector J.M. Barrie in 1922. Not only would it look lovely on my mantelpiece, those little fingers and that flute would make perfect jewellery stands! Just think, that lovely bronze statue draped with sparkly earrings and necklaces…”

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Emma Jane Wells, Operations & Projects Curator:

Achmelvich Shore by Francis Walker - memories of past holidays?

“I had to think hard about what item from our collections I would like to find in my Christmas stocking…and in the end settled on one of the artworks – mainly as it would look lovely hanging in my living room! The painting is by a local Fife artist, Francis Walker, and is entitled Achmelvich Shore. It was donated to the University by a past student, Murdo Macdonald, along with a number of other fine works by Scottish artists. The ink on paper print depicts a beach in the North West of Scotland, about 40 miles north of Ullapool. This is an area I have visited (though I haven’t been to Achmelvich before). There is a little cottage nestled up on the far hill, which seems to me to be really characteristic of Scottish wildness and remoteness, which Francis Walker’s work often depicts.”

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Matt Sheard, Audience Development Officer:

St Salvator's College Mace - a reminder of the origins of Christmas?

“Without question it has to be the St Salvator’s College Mace, a stunning piece of French silver work from the most fascinating of historical periods. It was made in 1461, when the University was in its infancy, and I love to think of the history that surrounds it and the many hands (hopefully nicely gloved to protect the gilt silver) that have gripped it.  It has St Salvator (a.k.a. Christ) himself in the centre which would nicely remind me of the reason for Christmas. And when I’m getting on in years it would be by far the best walking stick leaning against the bar of my local pub.”

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Debbie Mason, Trainee Collections Curator:

Braided River and Ancient Pines, Glen Feshie, Cairngorms

Braided River and Ancient Pines, Glen Feshie, Cairngorms - a good excuse to plug an exhibition?

“What I would really like to find in my stocking this year is this picture by Patricia Macdonald (born 1945) from the Boswell art collection. We have been working hard on putting together an exhibition of the work and I fell in love with this piece. It’s called Braided River and Ancient Pines, Glen Feshie, Cairngorms and every time I look at it I see something different. I think it would make a really great talking point in my living room.  The real thing looks a lot different, so you should come down to the Gateway Galleries and see it for real when Perspectives opens on 13th January!”

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