Preview: A Northumberland Menagerie @ Various Venues | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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A Northumberland Menagerie is a series of intricate paper cut installations from visual artist Bethan Maddocks, which tells unique and untold stories about animals, people and places from across the county.

Woodhorn Museum, the colliery’s historic cage shop, will be transformed into a giant beehive where audiences are invited to take part in the tradition of ‘telling the bees’, which involves sharing important news with the hive to help ward off bad luck. The beautiful beeswax carvings will line the windows, and a soundscape by musician Bridie Jackson will fill the room with folksongs and tales from local beekeepers.

Putting Out To Pastures, the second installation at Woodhorn Museum, opens in May and will commemorate the colliery’s pit ponies. It features three sets of pony headgear surrounded by intricate papercut coal, candyfloss and pasture plants representing different aspects of the life of pit ponies and the members of our colliery communities.

In addition to the exhibitions at Woodhorn Museum, A Northumberland Menagerie also includes Of the Sea and Of the Sky at Berwick Museum and Art Gallery, which explores themes of trade export and greed. Over Familiars at Hexham Old Gaol looks at stories of witchcraft, trials and incarceration in Northumberland, and the animals connected to them and ‘Thou shalt have a fishie, When the boat come in’ explores Northumberland fishing and folk traditions at Morpeth Chantry Bagpipe Museum.

Rowan Brown, Chief Executive of Museums Northumberland, adds, “Whilst Bethan has exhibited at Woodhorn Museum before, this will be the first time her work has been on display across all four of our sites.

“Her highly intricate artworks, which often use paper, light and fabrics, always have a commanding presence and wow audiences young and old.

“A Northumberland Menagerie is a beautiful exhibition that uses animals and the natural world to address important issues in our society and share stories from Northumberland’s past.”

A Northumberland Menagerie opens at Woodhorn Museum, Hexham Old Gaol, Berwick Museum and Art Gallery, and Morpeth Chantry Bagpipe Museum on Saturday 9th April and runs until Sunday 30th October. For more information and entry prices head to

Bethan Maddocks

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