My First Experience of Lincoln and the ITP UK Partner Programme (George Peckham, ITP Assistant)

Written by George Peckham, International Training Programme Assistant

I had the chance to accompany four of this year’s ITP fellows on the first part of their UK partner placement. Nyaz Awmar (ITP 2019, Kurdistan), Diana Digna (ITP 2019, Sudan), Khine Mon Kyaw (ITP 2019, Myanmar) and Ioan Oprea (ITP 2019, Romania) and I travelled to Lincoln to visit The Collection: Art and Archaeology in Lincolnshire. Not only was this a first for the fellows, there were many firsts for me as well! As this is my first ITP, it was my first visit to one of the Programme’s UK partners. It was also my first time visiting Lincoln, so we were all equally excited to get out of London and visit a new city.

We were greeted at Lincoln train station by Andrea Martin (Exhibitions and Interpretation Manager) and Dawn Heywood (Collections Development Officer) of The Collection. We had the chance to introduce ourselves over teas and coffees before settling into our accommodation. In the evening, Dawn and Andrea drove us to the local village of Heighington for dinner in an English pub. Ioan was keen to try any of the local English specialties. Naturally, we recommended sticky toffee pudding for dessert – it proved to be a good choice! A scenic drive back to Lincoln just as the sun was setting provided us with some beautiful views of the city and the iconic Cathedral. I even learned that Lincoln Cathedral was once the tallest building in the world! We had met our UK Partners and got our bearings in Lincoln. We were ready for the rest of week.

The ITP team in Lincoln!

Day two was a tour and introduction to The Collection and the Usher Gallery. These museums host a diverse range of objects covering a comprehensive history of Lincoln and the surrounding county. It has archaeological finds from Lincolnshire’s earliest inhabitants, objects from life in Lincoln under Roman, Viking and Saxon occupation, right up to the latest contemporary art in the Usher Gallery. What I particularly found interesting about The Collection’s displays was how the museum places itself within the history of its own collection. There are illustrations which show how the streets around The Collection may have looked when the city was a Viking settlement. There are also objects you can see which have been discovered on the site of the museum! In the afternoon, Andrea gave a session on the temporary exhibitions the museum runs and how they are developed. As a Designer, I think Diana took a lot away from this session. Andrea gave her some advice about the materials she uses when making exhibition labels and displays. The day finished with the fellows giving a presentation introducing themselves and the work they do to the staff at The Collection.

The next day involved an exciting trip out of Lincoln. Our UK partner had arranged for the fellows to visit an ongoing archaeological excavation. In Scremby, Lincolnshire, an early Anglo-Saxon cemetery has been discovered which is believed to have dated from around AD 550 – 650. Researchers from the University of Sheffield have been studying the site for the last three years. For Ioan and Nyaz, both of whom have backgrounds as archaeologists, this was the perfect thing for them to visit while in Lincolnshire and it led to some very interesting discussions about how archaeological practices differ in their home countries.

On site with the archaeology team from the University of Sheffield

The team showed us some of the finds from the site, which included decorative beads, brooches and bracelets. Nyaz and the team discussed at length about the laws surrounding metal detectorists and how they differ in the UK and Kurdistan. The use of metal detectors is strictly forbidden on archaeological sites in Kurdistan. While there are laws on its use in the UK, responsible metal detecting is encouraged as it can make an important contribution to archaeological discovery. As a Conservator, Khine was interested in how these objects would be cared for following their excavation and she looked forward to have the chance to visit a conservation studio later in the week.

For the afternoon we returned to The Collection for a very fun session with Erik Grigg, the Collection’s Learning Officer. Erik took us through some the learning programmes and workshops he runs for schools. The highlight was certainly being dressed up as a Roman Centurion and being taught how to organise into the famous testudo formation!

Nyaz, Diana and Khine with Dawn Heywood (Collections Development Officer) at Belton House

Thank you to everyone at The Collection: Art and Archaeology in Lincolnshire for an enjoyable and interesting taster to a UK Partner Placement. My first visit to Lincoln was a memorable and informative one, which Nyaz, Ioan, Diana, Khine and I will never forget!