Spotlight Exhibition: MIX: artwork by Maddy Down , Helen Francis and Peter Runeckles

End of Summer by Maddy Down

‘End of Summer’ painting by Maddy Down

From 4th February 2017 to 25th March 2017, The Dorset County Museum will host an temporary exhibition showing the work of three local artists.  They all have a long association with the Museum through their voluntary work in various departments. 

Maddy Down, Helen Francis and Peter Runeckles work in a wide variety of styles and media including oils, watercolour, pastels, textiles and enamels.  They have arrived at this point on their creative journeys by very different routes.

Maddy Down‘s interest in painting was prompted by gaining a degree in Art History at Winchester in 2001.  She was brought up in the Yorkshire Dales but has lived in Dorset for 45 years. The Dorset coast, cliffs and landscapes are her inspiration.  She conveys what she feels rather than a purely literal response.

Helen Francis trained at Loughborough College of Art gaining a BA (Hons) in Textiles specialising in embroidery.  After graduating she worked at the Hampton Court Palace and the Victoria and Albert Museum as a textile conservator.  An interest in historic needlework and costume continues through her work as a volunteer at the Museum.

Influenced by her garden, flowers and everyday objects Helen makes still life pictures using fabric, paint and thread.  Layers of dyed silk are used to create depth and intensity of colour.  Mark making with hand and free machine embroidery are added to accentuate the design.

Peter Runeckles has been painting since his school days when he was taught by R B Talbot Kelly the wildlife artist.  Since then he has worked independently producing paintings and sculptures.  He also joined a print making group at Bournemouth Art College.  Peter’s works in this show include paintings in oil and acrylic, Humbrol enamels, water colours, etchings and screen prints.   Peter has exhibited previously in Poole, Bournemouth and Dorchester.

For further information contact the Museum on on 01305 756827 or check the website on or follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Lecture: Bird Migration and the Campaign to stop Illegal Hunting by Andrew Morgan

Avocet, Malta

Avocet, Malta – Birdlife

BirdLife Malta is a society for the protection of birds and natural habitats in Malta. The organisation monitors activity that threatens wild birds, such as illegal hunting and trapping and urban development in conservation areas on the Maltese islands.

This year BirdLife Malta celebrates the 50th anniversary of its campaigning, research and conservation work. Founded in January 1962 it is the oldest environmental organisation in Malta.

Malta lies on one of three routes used by birds on their biannual migration between Europe and Africa.  There are over 12,000 licensed hunters on the Maltese islands and many will illegally shoot protected birds as there is a large bounty on the rare species.

To help Birdlife Malta stop this tragic waste, Andrew Morgan is giving this lecture, entitled Bird Migration and the Campaign to stop

, to raise funds and awareness for the campaign which he has been supporting since 2008.

The lecture takes place at 7.30pm on Wednesday 26th June and doors are open from 7.00pm.  The lecture is FREE but a donation of £3 is encouraged to cover costs.

Everyone is welcome and there is no need to book.

For further information contact the Museum on 01305 262735 or check the website on

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Lecture: Taxidermy – Past and Present by Jonathan McGowan

Dorset Naturalist and Taxidermist, Jonathan McGowan

Dorset Naturalist and Taxidermist, Jonathan McGowan

Taxidermy is a skilful traditional craft. It dates not just from the days before the camera and guide book were invented, but is still a highly sought-after profession even today. These skills are needed by naturalists, museum curators, teachers, photographers and interior designers to name but a few. Whilst taxidermy may sometimes be associated with ‘arty’ types, many traditional taxidermists still continue the craft in the most old fashioned of ways.

The art is all about removing the skins of animals, preserving them and recreating a life-like model and mounting it in a natural-looking setting. Taxidermy need not be just about hunting trophies – it is also about safeguarding the memories of loved family pets, or the recycling of dead animals that litter our roadsides from time to time and indeed much vital information can be gained from collecting road kill and passing it on to relevant conservation authorities.

A mounted wild polecat.

A mounted wild polecat.

Jonathan McGowan’s illustrated  talk touches on the history of the craft from the past to the present day, with insights into how it is carried out, the ups and downs (including the perks and horrors) of the trade, and strange oddities of nature.

The lecture takes place at Dorset County Museum at 7.30 on Wednesday 29 May and doors are open from 7pm.  The event is free but a donation of £3 is encouraged to cover costs.

For further information contact the Museum on 01305 262735 or check the website on

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