A profile of Botanical Gardens apprentice, Joanne Evans. Discussing how a Cultural Heritage Venue role has helped her discover new ambitions and interests. From university to apprenticeship, Joanne discovers a new path to entering a career in heritage.
Please tell us about yourself and your apprenticeship with the Botanical Gardens.
Hi, I am Joanne, a Cultural Heritage Venue Apprentice working for the Regency Restoration Project at the National Botanic Garden of Wales.
Before working at the Garden, I was completing my Master’s Degree in Ancient Narrative Literature, having completed my BA in Ancient History and Classical Studies back in 2016. Focussing my degree on mythological writings, I was able to combine my love of stories with my passion for history.
Always knowing that I wanted to work with heritage and surrounding myself with history, I began looking for heritage jobs long before my course was due to end. This was when I came across the application for the apprenticeship: I knew immediately that I wanted the position, as it would be the perfect opportunity to get into a heritage career.
Having come from a classical background, I have never really had the chance to learn about local Welsh history, so I’ve really enjoyed learning about the history of the estate, and everything associated with it. I’ve especially enjoyed researching about Paxton’s influence on Tenby. Having been to Tenby multiple times growing up, I was really surprised to learn just how much of an affect Paxton had on the town, having never heard about him before working on this project. I am excited to be helping research and prepare an exhibition about Paxton’s influence in Tenby, which will be displayed in Tenby Museum this summer.
I have also been working on writing up display boards to re-launch our Discovery Space. I have had to go in-depth into the lives of all the people involved with Middleton Estate after it was purchased by Paxton, and this has meant learning about lots of different areas within Britain. We’re hoping to have a summer packed with events, and I’m really looking forward to it. I am most excited for Regency week, where we are hoping to demonstrate different aspects of living within the Regency Period. I am also really excited about seeing the lakes filled with water and the bridges being built in the Landscape.
If you could plan an event in any cultural heritage site in the World, where and what would it be and why?
If I would host an event at any heritage site in the world, I would choose the Flavian Amphitheatre, also known as the Colosseum. The event would be a gladiatorial show where people get to watch re-enactment actors battle against each other. They will wear historically accurate costumes and carry safe, accurate re-enactment weapons. There will be posters up explaining the details of each warrior garb. Between each battle, a person will come out and give a quick explanation of who each person is meant to be, such as a celebrity gladiator, or a prisoner of war, or a criminal.
After the battle, people would be given the chance to dress up in gladiator wear, carry weapons, and be shown how to wield them. There will also be a talk and tour explaining the history of the site. From it being a populated area to the fire of 64 AD, Nero’s Domus Aurea to its creation into the Flavian Amphitheatre. This would be held in many different languages.
The Colosseum is one of my absolute favourite historical sites in the world. It has such a rich and various history. The event will allow people to experience a spectacle in a similar way to those who visited the site when it was built, while also teaching them about the tragic and violent past. Most historical sites are surrounded by controversy, but it shouldn’t be ignored. Teaching visitors about the good and bad history of the site will give people a well-rounded learning experience while providing them with an exciting and fun experience will boost public opinion and visitor numbers.