12 October 2013

Let them eat cake?

You can't have a celebration without cake!

There are a few things guaranteed to get the busy South Lakes team together in the same place at the same time – cake is definitely one of them (beer is probably the other!). There is cake to be had in the next week though as we celebrate 100 years since Beatrix and William got married.

I often wonder what Beatrix would make of the ideas and initiatives we come up with, but the longer I work with her legacy, the more I come to realise that she was in fact years ahead of us. Beatrix was a shrewd businesswoman and innovator. She thoroughly exploited any opportunities that presented themselves, she was the first to see the potential of her characters as merchandising gold mines – long before Walt Disney was putting Minnie, Mickey and Donald onto lunch boxes and T-shirts, Beatrix was putting Peter, Jemima and Benjamin onto Tea sets, slippers and, well, pretty much anything. So a more appropriate question might be; are we living up to her entrepreneurial example? There certainly isn’t a shortage of ideas around here.

October may be our last month fully open but we’ve got plenty going on. Tuesday 15th is the actual anniversary date and if you’re lucky enough to be in Sawrey that day, look out for members of the team wearing appropriate accessories, you may even be offered cake… well it would be rude not to!
Remember that the current Gallery exhibition ends on 3rd November, so all the artwork on display will go into storage for at least 8-10 years. As well as the artwork; we will certainly miss the eight Pettitoes piggies who have been in residence for the children’s trail throughout the season. Hill Top will also close its doors for winter conservation work and repairs and say good bye to the wedding theme, which so many visitors have enjoyed this season.

Pigging out at the Beatrix Potter Gallery

Next years theme is “On holiday with Beatrix Potter”; we want to explore how Beatrix’s travels throughout mainland Britain inspired her art. There is a wealth of material in the collection of artwork and also amongst the objects at Hill Top. We hope to bring these to the fore - highlighting items you may not have seen before and featuring some items currently hiding in corners or stored away behind the scenes.  One such item is Helen Potter’s (Beatrix’s mother) favourites album. This was a sort of elegant Victorian version of a ‘Facebook profile’. The Potter’s entries are both witty and beautifully executed and we hope visitors of all ages will be inspired to fill in their own versions.

Helen Potter's own page in her "favourites" album

The Potter holidays were documented through Rupert’s photographs, as well as in Beatrix’s journal and correspondence. There are wonderful accounts of trips out, sightseeing and even the souvenirs the family collected, some of which are amongst Beatrix’s treasured possessions preserved at Hill Top. You will find the holiday theme running throughout the property and there have been some great ideas which I hope will show Beatrix that we are determined to continue her work as an innovative and inspirational conservationist.

Now, about that cake…..