Octavius Morgan, an Antiquarian with a passion for Collection and Curation.  By Mary Evans In early February before lockdown would radically affect our way of life I joined a group of National Trust volunteers from Tredegar House on a visit to the British Museum. The morning was given over to a guided tour of the Horological Collection with one of its curators Oliver Cooke. We were accorded this privilege because of the connection between Tredegar House and one of the Collection’s most significant benefactors, Charles Octavius Swinnerton Morgan.
Charles Octavius Swinnerton Morgan (1803-1888)

Known as Octavius Morgan he was the fourth son of Sir Charles Morgan 2nd Baronet (1760-1846) and Mary (née Stoney). This rare picture of him is featured in a profile by David H.Williams. Until 1839 he lived at Tredegar House, for over 500 years the home of the powerful Morgan family later Lords Tredegar. Octavius’s eldest brother Charles Morgan Robinson Morgan became the first Lord Tredegar, in 1859.…

Newport Doll, A Memory

Sylvia Mason writes about her visit to Newport Museum in 1982
We were visiting in May 1982 when an Argus photographer asked me if he could take a photo of my little daughter with the newly acquired Newport Doll. After that we always looked out for it. Now I visit with grandchildren but haven’t seen it for ages. I hope it’s OK. If only the photo had been in colour!

When lock down is over we will ask if it can be put back on display. 

Christina Mitchell writes about the ideas behind her creation of the Newport Doll. 'This was commissioned on the theme of Newport and it was the aim in the 1970s for Newport Art Gallery to commission a work of art on that theme every year. She was born in 1943 and came to Wales in 1974. Christina Mitchell states, Newport Doll was conceived as a figurative three dimensional painting about the city of Newport. The moving image at the centre of the piece is the Transporter bridge, probably the most iconic monument in the whole of South Wales. The image is d…

What happened to the Roman mosaics in the old Dock Street Museum?

What happened to the Roman mosaics in the old Dock Street Museum?
by Oliver Blackmore
Newport’s old Dock Street Museum displayed two fine Roman mosaics from Caerwent. The black and white photograph below shows them grandly flanking the museum stairway. The Dock Street Museum was demolished in 1967. However, many Newportonians still remember the mosaics from their childhood. One such person recently asked what had happened to the mosaics? This presented the ideal opportunity to tell their story.
Both mosaics date to the third century AD – often called the ‘golden age of mosaics’ in Britain. Discovered in a Roman house in Caerwent, the mosaics are from and associated with, a room called a ‘triclinium’. A triclinium (named after the Greek ‘triklinion’) was a formal oblong-shaped dining room, composed of three (‘tri’) couches (‘klinon’).Triclinia were where middle and upper class Romans would eat, relax and entertain. Diners would recline on the couches, whilst their slaves brought them vari…

Art UK's Sculpture Project and Newport Musuem and Art Gallery

Art UK’s Sculpture project and Newport Museum and Art Gallery
Art UK serves a valuable purpose and allows small galleries with limited space but important interesting works of art to allow the public to see the collections.  Newport Museum and Art Gallery was the pilot collection for Wales. The sculpture project coordinator for Wales was Andrew Deathe. The Sculpture project photographer was Rolant Dafis, an independent photographer with over 20 years’ experience.

The UK has become the first country in the world to create a free-to-access online photographic showcase of its publicly owned sculpture. The first records began appearing on Art UK in early 2019. Prior to the project, many of these works were without records, images or online access, and many public monuments are not fully recorded and are at risk. The three-year project focused on sculpture dating from the last 1,000 years, held in public collections and outdoor locations across the UK. The national sculpture collection is …

Josef Herman, 'Women in the Fields'

Women in the Fields Josef Herman(1911-2000) Oil on canvas Newport Museum and Art Gallery

I first became aware of Josef Herman while studying fine art at the University of Dundee in 2006. At the time, I was experimenting with ink, drawing industrial buildings when a lecturer suggested looking at Herman’s graphic works. Herman’s confident line, either in charcoal or ink displayed an immediacy to record while simultaneously expressing the artist’s internalised encounter with his subject. The works Herman made while living in the mining community at Yystradgynlais were of particular interest. 
I first encountered Women in the Fields after a re-hang of the permanent collection at Newport Museum and Art Gallery. The work made an immediate impression, and it sounds strange, but one way I believe the effectiveness of a work of art can be measured is its potential to persist while your back is turned to it. Women in the Fields persisted through the exaggerated monumental female figures arched over…

A Visitor to Caerwent in 1786


An antique plan of Venta Silurum or Caerwent’ drawn by Thomas Morrice
When the Bristol clergyman and schoolmaster Revd. Samuel Seyer visited Monmouthshire in 1786, he was ‘repeatedly assured’ at Chepstow ‘that there was nothing to see at Caerwent and that it was not even mentioned in the guidebook’. When he got there, he found,
‘a poor miserable village, containing the parish church, one large farmhouse, three alehouses, three shops and about a dozen mean houses within the walls and about half a dozen against the walls outside’.
Despite this unpromising start, his account of the Roman town, his sketch map and detailed account of the Roman walls as they then existed, precede Coxe’s better known account and his excellent plan of Caerwent (above) by the surveyor Thomas Morrice by almost twenty years. Seyer saw a Roman mosaic which had been preserved under a protective shed and described Roman roads leading from Caerwent to Sudbrook and U…