From today’s EDP. We will be visiting the exhibition tomorrow, along with two of our volunteers who are part of the MA Museum Studies students curating team.
Who was Rhoda Gray? Can you solve mystery of Gorleston collector
When a Gorleston woman died she bequeathed a varied and fascinating range of curiosities to a university, and now students are appealing for more information about her.
Rhoda Blanche Helen Gray spent the later years of her life living at 71 Chestnut Avenue, Gorleston. Her mother was called Lilian Marian Gray, nee Frost, and possibly lived with Rhoda for all of her life.
Rhoda lived in the Great Yarmouth and Gorleston area from 1920 to 1987.
Throughout her life, Rhoda had collected curiosities, which she bequeathed to the University of East Anglia in 1987 and which will be going on display for the first time in an exhibition at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, organised by a group of MA Museum Studies students.
The collection includes royal memorabilia, souvenirs from around the world and items which relate to Rhoda’s personal life.
Rhoda wrote descriptive notes for many objects in her collection, one of which relates to the curious combination of a holy stone and a shoehorn. She writes: “Cut foot on holy stone and discovered shoehorn on way to Jetty, Marine Parade Gt Yarmouth.”
She kept many objects which related to events in her life such as this, which the rest of us may pass by.
The details of the collection’s many international souvenirs are less clear.
Charlotte Stace, one of the exhibition’s student curators said: “There isn’t anything to suggest Rhoda ever travelled overseas. When we began investigating the collection we had an idea that Rhoda was the landlady of a guesthouse and the souvenirs were gifts from her boarders. But looking at the letters in the collection, it seems she never met many of the people who were sending these gifts.
“We are starting to wonder whether she actually corresponded with them through a network of global penfriends. We’d love to know more.”
Working with the collection has led the students to become curious about Rhoda’s life and family. They are appealing to local people who may remember her to help them build up a picture of this her, and in doing so unravel some of the many mysteries of her collection.
The exhibition “Who was Rhoda Gray?” opens on Friday, May 22 in the school court area of the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts.
Further information about Rhoda Gray, including a blog exploring objects in her collection, can be found at http://www.rhodagray.com
Anyone with information about Rhoda Gray can write to: Marketing Department FAO. Emma Reeve. Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TP, email: email@example.com or call 07910 341518.
You can also write or email the Mercury, and we will pass on the details.