Elliot Douglas reviews the Bell Pettigrew tour whilst Yu Ching Yau reviews the Bell Pettigrew Sessions
Bell Pettigrew Tour Review Elliot Douglas
The Bell Pettigrew Museum is a hidden gem of St Andrews which I am, on some level, loath to see opened up to the general public, given its current status as a secret study space for me. Nevertheless, it is fantastic to see spaces like this used in new and unusual ways. This On The Rocks festival saw two different performances take place there: A Performance Tour of the museum and a jam session with Music Is Love.
Bryn Jackson-Farrer and his team with the performance tour did a wonderful job in educating and entertaining the public. With numbers kept to a tight minimum, over three tours in one evening, St Andrews stalwart Oli Savage served as the first tour guide, welcoming us into the space with typically engaging and ingratiating style. His fellow hosts were a little less comfortable in their roles, and there were a few line stumbles and nervous moments apparent as they talked us through the history of the exhibits in the Bell Pettigrew Museum. The frequent change of host kept the audience guessing and kept us moving around the space, largely allowing us to see the entire space and the most important exhibits in a crisp 20 minutes. Having seen the specimens on more than one occasion, some of the facts were a little underwhelming to me, and I wish that the dramatic aspects of the show could have taken up more time. We experiences a meeting with the bearded Dr Bell Pettigrew himself and watced his attempt to fly, and Savage told a tear-jerking story about a lonely cassowary, but largely the content was purely informational. Nevertheless, the event was a great way to use and showcase such a little-known space.
Bell Pettigrew Sessions – Music is Love x MUSA Yu Ching Yau
There is no better way than this to experience the Bell Pettrigrew museum for the first time. It was a delightful surprise to find that the overwhelmingly vast collection of colourful animal displays, brightly lit in a blue-green hue, perfectly complemented the simple combination of singing and acoustic instrumentation. The display room not only provided a comfortable level of intimacy but also created an acoustic environment that elevated the stripped-down folksy style of music to an ethereal level as the melodies swelled to fill every corner of the room. Making it a non-ticketed event contributed to the laid-back vibe as audience members floated in and out of the room between songs. It is a credit to the musicians that there was a captivated audience even as I arrived one hour into the event, unfortunately missing Casper Sanderson’s set but managing to catch the tail end of Evelyn Benson’s performance and the beginning of Finfolk’s forty-five minute set. Having only formed two months ago, the band comprising of vocals, a violin, mandolin, acoustic guitar, cello and drums (not present on the day), left the audience thoroughly impressed with a vast repertoire of covers and originals, my favourites being “Lonesome Moonlight Waltz” and a sweet version of “You are my sunshine”. It’s a shame that the organisers seemed to have accidentally cut the evening short as a misleading announcement led audiences to quickly filter out even as a final performer was due to take the stage.