As some of you may know, the gallery and museums teams have been involved in moving the reserve collections into their new home at Northfield.
This has been going on at the same time as the work was taking place to reinstate the Art Gallery, as well as all the other activities the staff do on a daily basis. Recently we have upped our effort to finish the safe transfer of the collections to their new home and visitors to the Hub will see the difference with the passing days.
It is very easy to get sidetracked by the fascinating objects that we are preparing to transport. Recently a letter I was packing reminded me of my great grandfather who, when he thought he was too old to go to sea, passed his final days plying a ferry on the Clyde.
The letter I was packing was written in the early 20th century by Richard Irvin to a woman in Aberdeen asking her to persuade her husband, who thought he was too old, to return to sea in command of the newest vessel in the extensive Irvin fleet. Irvin’s, at the time, were one of the largest fishing fleet operators in Britain as well as abroad.
Another item that I recently saw for the first time when we came to move the collection is a simple brown enamel teapot. What sent a shiver down my spine when I held it? Well, it was the inscription on the side.
Quest was the name of the ship that took one of Britain’s greatest explorers, Sir Ernest Shackleton, to the Antarctic on what was to be his final voyage.
He died soon after arriving at South Georgia in January 1922. A quick check to see who had gifted the teapot and I had to sit down.
The donor’s name was Mrs D Marr, who was the wife of James William Slessor Marr. He was born at Cushnie in Aberdeenshire, but educated at Aberdeen Grammar School and also university. James, at the age of 18, was aboard the Quest as part of Shackleton’s expedition team when they set out in 1921 for the Antarctic.
Marr went on to have a distinguished career in marine biology and arctic exploration. So the teapot may have held tea not only for Shackleton on his last expedition but also for one of the north-east’s greatest explorers!
Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums:
- Aberdeen Art Gallery
- Aberdeen Maritime Museum (open 7 days, admission free)
- The Tolbooth Museum (open 7 days, admission free)
- Aberdeen Treasure Hub Museum Centre
- For visiting information go to www.aagm.co.uk
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