A beekeeper's suit
People with disabilities are the world’s largest minority group, making up nearly 20% of the population. While many people are born with a condition, anyone can become disabled at any time. And yet, in so many contexts, disabled inclusivity is lacking. People’s needs are not anticipated, asked about, or accommodated for. But the disabled label [...]

Cardew | Shonibare | G.A.S

This exhibition celebrates creative links between rural England and West Africa. It explores the mid-century work of potter Michael Cardew, who founded a studio in Nigeria in 1951, and takes as its starting point a giant teapot made by him some years earlier. Here, Magdalena Kaggwa of the Yinka Shonibare Foundation, brings this story of […]

1918 Allotment, Oxford

Close up of snail on a leaf from JC Niala, 'Portal: 1918 Allotment' (Fig: Oxford, 2022), p.2

Between Spring and Autumn of 2021, JC Niala recreated an allotment in the style of 1918 on one of Fig’s plots on Elder Stubbs Allotments in Oxford. This online exhibition shares images and reflections from the resultant book. Entitled Portal:1918 Allotment, this formed a document of the project through poems, journal entries, and images. The […]

‘Be ye kind to one another’: rural togetherness in times of crisis

A Friendly Society festival.

People in the countryside have always had a strong sense of community, and this has always been the most apparent during times of hardship. Whether these crises throughout history were caused by pandemics, natural disasters, or socio-economic factors, many examples can be traced throughout English history of rural people banding together to survive. In this […]

Changing Perspectives in the Countryside

As part of The MERL’s Building Connections project (funded by Arts Council England), we have sought to explore different stories and themes that live within our collection from the history of the English countryside. As we researched a range of themes and topics—from LGBTQ+ rural experience to the history of migration—it became clear to us that there were many [...]

Life Stories

Five children/evacuees standing in a row, smiling in the sun

Throughout the last year, The MERL has had the opportunity to partner with Age UK Berkshire and Younger People With Dementia to deliver a storytelling project focused on capturing the life stories of Reading’s older population. Age UK research suggests 16% of the over 65s often feel invisible or ignored. Loneliness can happen at all […]