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Toy Turtle from Brazil - part of the Moving Here project

Responding to Artefacts

People have always come to Exeter for all sorts of reasons – to retire near the sea or to make a new start. And some of the museum’s objects have made long journeys too.

Many were collected in distant lands and others show influences across continents.

During the Moving Here project, we’ve shown artefacts and recorded responses of a variety of people: the local synagogue and Hindu temple, women learning English, a black and ethnic minority disability support group, community interpreters, senior citizens and local history enthusiasts.

Here are some of the comments we’ve collected:

Tasmanian Aboriginal basket

Moving Here Tayenebe basket (266x265)

Delicate woven basket, called tayenebe, made by Aboriginal Tasmanian artists and gifted to RAMM in 1997 as a mark of friendship when RAMM had returned two pieces of shell jewellery to Tasmania because of their cultural significance

“Baskets are my least favourite, because they’re not visually appealing, but now I know the story, it’s interesting [and]… their significance is working for me…. The longer I look at it, the more I like it.” (Alan, local historian in Exwick History Group)


Silver amulet

Moving Here Silver Amulet (271x265)

19th-century silver amulets from Oman, made to contain a piece of text from the Koran

“The idea is similar to the mezuzah… we put on the doors of our houses. It’s a small container which holds a parchment of a prayer – the Shema – …which should be recited every morning and evening. In Cornwall, the Jewish community produce their own mezuzahs from Cornish tin.” (Richard Halsey, member of Exeter Synagogue, dealer in 17th and 18th-century furniture)


Chinese hairpin decorated with kingfisher feathers

Moving Here Chinese Hairpin (271x273)

19th-century brass hairpin. The head of the bird is set on a spring so that it moves.

“In ancient times, ladies used to wear these in performances. Nowadays in China, people like to decorate themselves a lot; they follow the old designs. I have a hairpin like this, but it is black. My grandmother came from a rich family and my mother still has some decorative clothes. They live near the mountains.” (Jo from China, just moved to Exeter)

“In Korea, older generations of married women have similar ones, called pinyo. They were… longer and they’re prettily decorated. It reminds me of those. High class, married ladies would wear bigger, longer, more beautifully decorated ones and lower class ladies would wear more simple ones – always on long hair, to hold it together.” (Deborah Kim, Korean student at Belmont Chapel English class)

“[I’m] amazed the feathers are still attached. The work in reproducing the peacocks is amazing and the colour is brilliant. It’s a colour you could see today in a store like Accessorise.” (Kathleen Moolman, TEFL teacher & Ruth Flanagan, teacher of English at Belmont Chapel)


Arctic map

Moving Here Arctic map (271x225)

Carved caribou antler map used by Inupiaq–Inuit fishermen. The map represents a short length of Arctic coastline. The user can work out where he is by feeling its edge.

“I think this is very interesting as a map. We are used to maps being visual with the landscape laid out from an aerial perspective. We are used to seeing everything. But it is tactile. It’s a different way of understanding the world. If it’s from within the Arctic circle, then four months of the year is spent in darkness.” (Rosamund Davis, RAMM volunteer)

“You have to be clever to read it.” (Caito Herreros, Spanish interpreter for Multilingua and art lover)


Tunic from Pakistan

Moving Here tunic from Pakistan 271x335)

This chola from Sindh would be worn by women in the desert regions of southern Pakistan and western India. The colours and designs relate information about the wearer’s age, marital status, religion and community. This photo shows the reverse of the tunic, which incorporates a piece of embroidery worn by the woman for her wedding. Over time, the garment becomes part of her daily life.

“In Algeria,… Women wear silver and pink embroidered clothes at a wedding. Men wear a burnous that’s brown or white. If it’s brown, sometimes it’s made from camel hair. For my wedding, I wore six outfits during [the course of] the day. Each one comes from a different place in Algeria. First the shadda, from the west of Algeria. It’s traditional… an outfit with a crown. Lots of necklaces and bracelets with silver. It’s very long, down to the floor…. There was a big party [for my wedding] with couscous with meat or chicken. [I come from] Relizane in the west of Algeria. It’s much bigger than Exeter, with a university. (Somia, Algerian student at Belmont Chapel English class)


Black burnished Roman bowl

Moving Here Black burnished Roman bowl (271x183)

This bowl – made in southwest Britain in the 2nd century – was found in Bartholomew Street East, Exeter, in 1959.

“It’s very delicate. I’ve seen people [in Turkey] using this kind of thing for drinking water. It makes me think of old ladies bending down. In rural areas, my dad used to teach…. [where they don’t have tap water]. They bring water from a spring and put it on a wooden slat. Then they dip into it with something like this.” (Anil Lee, moved to Exeter from Istanbul in 1988)


Nigerian headdress

Moving Here Nigerian Headress (271x310)

Yoruban headdress in the form of a face with intricate hair design

“[I am from Cabinda, the region between Congo and Angola]. The men have short hair and wear a single piece of cloth draped around them over the shoulder. Only the women have long hair…. The kings also wear an animal skin of leopard or lion, also draped over the shoulder. Sometimes they wear necklaces made from carved ivory.” (Marie-Therese, member of Rejuve-nation, from the Democratic Republic of Congo)

“It is worn during a masquerade. The museum acquired it in 1959 but it’s a lot older than that.” (Tony Eccles, Curator of Ethnography)

“I don’t think I’d be able to dance with this on my head! It would be nice to see someone with it on their head…. [I like African art]…. I’ve got African paintings on my wall…. A man sitting under a tree, women carrying water…. I’ve got a carving at home. But it’s not wood, it’s graphite…. And I’ve got a couple of heads. One reminds me of my son….” (Audrey Toms, Jamaican member of Rejuve-nation)

“Apparently there are 40 million Yoruban people around the world…. A lot of items we (RAMM) have were gifts given to the Reverend Henry Townsend which he then gave to the museum. He was a missionary in Yorubaland in the 19th century. He developed a good relationship with the people there.” (Rowena Hill, Conservator)

“You’d have a headache after wearing that all day!” (Simon Tootell, volunteer)


 Burmese jacket

Moving Here Burmese jacket (270x186)

Man’s jacket in red and blue from Myanmar (Burma)

“My mother’s half Karen (a tribe in northern Burma)…. The hill people wear similar clothes…. The men wear [a loose top and] trousers tied with a knot…. They still wear that… traditional people. It’s quite cool up there….

“In Burma, most females still wear traditional clothes, …more than the men. [Sarongs would be traditional] but I suppose trousers are easier. [For] high days and holidays they have very expensive sarongs, from silk…. It’s very attractive, I think. It makes a very feminine shape, especially the top [which would be] long-sleeved, semi-transparent – just tantalising glimpses!” (Captain James Fressanges, retired master mariner originally from Burma)

“It reminds me of South American [clothing]…. It’s quite a simple design…. It’s funny how people do similar things all over the world. (Doreth Lawrence, mother and nurse, born in Jamaica and living in Honiton)

“It is so gorgeous. The change of pattern and the trimming on the sleeve. Brilliant. I suppose it would be for cold weather. [It reminds me of] Tibetan people [I’ve seen on television]…. Look at the stitching…. If that’s the jacket, I’d like to see what goes with it.” (Audrey Toms, Jamaican member of Rejuve-nation)



Moving Here silk and wool shawl (271x176)

Blue silk and wool shawl from about 1800.

“Shawls were originally men’s clothes from northern India…. Europeans who travelled to India brought them back and they became fashionable.” (Shelley Tobin, RAMM Assistant Costume Curator)

“It looks very traditionally English. I can see the same style as from Romania, a little Russian, but more Romanian. For a middle-aged woman, not young, worn on her head to protect… from the wind, cold. If it was worn on the shoulders, it would be to look pretty (in Russia). Two hundred years ago, this would have been very, very pretty, but probably not very expensive.” (Zoe Isopova, housewife and English student)

“These patterns could be used on a dress. This could be used as a head scarf. I recognise this pattern – [it’s the sort of thing my mum would wear.] I like the blue colour.” (Aysegul Safitürk, teacher from traditional Turkish family)

“Shawls are still traditionally worn in Romania, for special occasions such as on a Sunday. The colours of these shawls are white, embroidered with blue, red and white and are specific to region. They are still worn by country not city folk and are now made commercially.” (Roxanne Pintilie, student in English class at Belmont Chapel)


Tillet block

Moving Here Tillet Block (271x304)

Early 18th century tillet block. A tillet was a loose woollen cloth wrapped around a bale of woollen cloth. Woollen cloth was exported from Exeter to many other countries. The tillet block was used to stamp the tillet to show that it had been through customs, was of good quality, the merchant it had come from and its destination.

“It’s so light. I was expecting it to be heavy. It looks like a block for batik designs in the Far East. [Looms] are still used in rural Turkey. Ladies – not men – still weave…. My mother had two looms – one carpet one and one for dyed rags to make rugs.” (Anil Lee, moved to Exeter from Istanbul in 1988, in a Moving Here session organised by RAMM Exeter)

“It looks German. It looks like a picture in an old manuscript. I associate the history of the book with Germany.” (Anne-Flore Laloe, historical geographer and French interpreter, in a Moving Here session organised by RAMM Exeter)

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Venue Hire Terms Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery (RAMM)

Conditions of Hire1 (a) The council reserves the right to refuse any application for the use of the venue or any part thereof without stating its reason for such refusal.(b) Should the hirer cancel the booking within 28 days of the booking then 50% of the hire fee shall be forfeited.(c) The Council reserves the right to cancel bookings at any time by not less than 24 hours previous notice in writing to the Hirer, and the Hirer shall not be entitled to any compensation in consequence thereof or in connection therewith other than the refunding of appropriate hiring fees agreed.(d) The Council reserves the right to cancel at any time any booking of the said premises should the venue be closed in consequence of any public calamity, Royal demise, epidemic, fire, act of God, war (or its consequences), or is not available for the purpose of the hiring in consequence of the withdrawal or suspension of any license, or by reason of any work required to be done by the Licensing or other Authority, to be any reason of any combination or any strike or lock-out of any workman interfering with the efficient working of the premises, or from any cause whatsoever not within the control of, or not occasioned by default of, the council.(e) The Council’s decision upon the above matters shall be final and conclusive, and in such circumstances the Hirer shall not be entitled to any compensation in consequence thereof, but any charge for hire previously paid shall be refunded.(f) The Council reserves the right to terminate any hiring in the event of the hire committing a breach or failure to observe or perform any of the regulations or conditions.(g) The Hirer shall not without the previous consent in writing of the venue management, use the venue or any part thereof for any purposed or purposes other than those specified in the letter of hire confirmation without prior agreement of the venue manager(h) The Hirer shall not without the consent in writing of the venue management, sub-let the venue or any part thereof.(i) These conditions and regulations for the use of the Royal Albert Memorial Museum and any part thereof may be amended by the Council at any time, without notice and, if so amended, shall apply to all hirings taking place thereafter regardless of the date of such hirings.(j) The term ‘Hirer’ in these Conditions shall be taken to mean the person, persons, or body incorporate making application to hire the venue and any part thereof.(k) The term ‘Venue’ in these Conditions shall be taken to mean those parts of the venue booked as noted on the letter of hire confirmation.2 (a) The Hirer shall be deemed to have notice of the Conditions attached to such licences and shall observe and perform such Conditions insofar as they affect the hiring.(b) The maximum capacity of the venue is 500 persons however a smaller maximum may be enforced depending on the particular event and set-up required. You should check this with the venue management before finalising your plans for an event.(c) Any bar operating as part of a function may be closed by the duty manager at any time if any person using the bar shall behave in an unruly, disorderly or unseemly manner or it, in the exercise of his absolute discretion, he is of the opinion that such unruly, disorderly or unseemly behaviour may occur there.(d) the Hirer shall comply with the Conditions endorsed on the Premises Licence, and shall not do or permit any act which may imperil the Licence held by the Council or be a nuisance or annoyance to any person and shall not commit or permit any breach of the statutory provision, or regulation for the time being in force relating to the licensed premises.3 (a) The Council shall not be liable for any accident or injury sustained by the Hirer or any person present in the venue or any part thereof arising from the negligence or default of the Hirer and his servants or agents. The Hirer shall indemnify the Council against all costs, claims an demands in respect of any such accident or injury as aforesaid. A copy of the hirer’s public liability insurance certificate should be made available to the venue management on request. Such public liability should be in force to a limit of £5,000,000.(b) Where requested, the Hirer must provide a copy of a risk assessment for the event at least 7 days prior to the event being staged.(c) The venue shall be in the care and custody of the Hirer and the Council accepts no responsibility for any loss or damage sustained in respect of articles, wearing apparel or other property brought into or left in the venue or any party thereof by or on behalf of the Hirer or any other person.(d) The Hirer will be held responsible and accept full responsibility for any damage done to the venue or any part thereof, furniture, utensils or other property of the Council during the period of or otherwise arising out of the hire of the venue or any part thereof. All internal or external decorations shall be subject to the approval of the management. These should not be fixed to the fabric of the building or internal walls and should be removed to the satisfaction of the venue management.(e) No entertainment shall be held or given which will involve any increased risk of fire unless previously agreed by the venue management.(f) The Hirer agrees not to fix decorations or any other material to the walls, floors, stage, furniture or any other part of the premises.(g) Any liability or expenditure incurred by the Council on behalf of and at the request of the Hirer shall be discharged by the Hirer and the Council will not accept any responsibility in connection therewith.(h) Any caterers engaged to provide food or other refreshments as part of a function shall be taken from RAMM’s list of approved caterers.4 (a) All seats and tables will be arranged with sufficient gangways in all respects to afford means of rapid exit and the Hirer shall keep such gangways, together with all passages and exits free from obstruction.(b) All doors giving egress from the venue or any part thereof shall be kept unfastened and unobstructed and immediately available for exit during the whole of such time as the venue or any part thereof is being used by the Hirer.(c) All enquiries regarding the facilities available, layout, times of entry etc should be made to the venue management.(d) The Hirer should not use, or permit to be used, any electrical equipment in the venue without the prior consent of the venue management. The Hirer must ensure that a competent person is in attendance during the operation of any additional special effects, stage lighting, additional venue lighting, audio visual equipment or any electrical equipment.(e) All arrangements in connection with the hiring of the premises or any part thereof shall be to the approval of the venue management and the Hirer shall comply with all reasonable requests made to him at any time in respect thereof.(f) Naked flames, including gas ovens and candles, shall not be used on the premises. Red wine, orange juice and other staining or sticky drinks are not to be provided or drunk on the premises without the former consent of the venue management.(g) Balloons cannot be used to decorate rooms or galleries without the express permission of the management due to the risk of them setting off the intruder alarm systems.5 (a) The removal from the venue of all goods and/or equipment belonging to the Hirer, or brought into the venue in connection with the purpose, for which the venue was hired, shall be the responsibility of the Hirer. In the event of failure to discharge the foregoing responsibility within 14 days of an event, the Council may dispose of the goods and /or equipment as it thinks fit without being liable to the Hirer in respect thereof. The Hirer shall be liable to pay the Council’s costs of so doing save to the extent they are recouped by the Council from any sale of the goods and/or equipment.(b) If the Hirer shall continue his/her occupation of the venue or any part thereof after the designated period of hire for which he/she engaged the same, he/she shall pay such additional hire fees as may be deemed appropriate by the venue management. The Hirer shall also, in addition, be responsible for any loss or damage occasioned by the Council for exceeding the designated times. The designated times being those booked by the Hirer and stated in the letter of confirmation.6 Sufficient staff shall be provided by the Hirer to supervise properly the function in the venue or any part thereof as the venue management shall, in their absolute discretion determine.7 The Council’s officers and servants are not permitted, under any circumstances, to accept gratuities of any kind.8 (a) The Hirer shall not use the venue or any part thereof for the performance in public of any dramatic or musical work or for the delivery in public of any lectures in which copyright subsists without the consent of the owner of the said copyright. The Hirer shall indemnify the Council against all sums of money, which the Council may have to pay by reason of any infringement of copyright occurring during the whole of such time as the venue or any part thereof is being used by the Hirer.(b) The Hirer shall comply with the provisions of the Children and Young Persons Act.9 (a) The hirer shall not be entitled to grant sound, television broadcasting or filming rights without the prior written consent of the venue management.10 (a) Smoking is not allowed in any part of the venue.11(a) In accordance with RAMM's responsibility under the Data Protect Act 1998 the information you provide will be held in an Exeter City Council database for the purpose of fulfilling your venue hire arrangements.  It will not be used for any other purpose unless you opt in to receiving communications from RAMM.12 (a) a 50% non-refundable deposit is required to be paid upon booking and the remaining 50% one month before the event.