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Archive for April, 2013

A Stroll in Grove Park

By Tina Paphitis, on 26 April 2013

Last week Andrew Flinn, Gabriel Moshenska and I met with Stephen Kenny at Grove Park Community Centre to discuss how we could help the community develop their heritage project. We were met with a warm welcome and a cup of tea! The Ringwood Centre is an inspiring place that survived being torn down for a major road development in 1972, and it is clear that the community really care about the Centre and Grove Park. The Centre consists of a house and relocated pre-fabricated buildings partly occupying land where the writer Edith Nesbit’s (author of The Railway Children) house once stood! It does everything, from hosting regular activities and events (such as folk singing, lace-making and fitness classes), to circulating a local newsletter and providing a place for people to visit, meet and chat with friends or get on with their own thing. Grove Park itself has a fascinating history: as well as being the home of Nesbit, who entertained her friends H.G. Wells and Oscar Wilde in her gardens, it was also where Desmond Tutu ministered in the 1970s, and has a rich railway heritage.Grove Park Station Sign

Grove Park Community Group are developing a heritage and literary trail to reveal this hidden history, and hope to develop an audio-visual guide for walkers, which will include information about the history of the place, and of recollections of local residents. In this, we (Andrew) aim to provide training and equipment needed for conducting oral histories that can be used for the trails and other activities. Additionally, we (Gabe and Tina) hope to add to this history by running a week-long excavation where local primary school children can come and learn about archaeology – and who knows what might turn up?! This will all take place around a Grove Park Summer Fair to be held on 6 July, which promises to be a fun event, and where people can contribute their own tales, recollections and sentiments about Grove Park.

After discussing all of this, we were taken on a lovely walk around the Park, during which we could plan potential trench locations and take in the wonderful views! We went away feeling enthralled by the place and the work of the Group, and excited to be part of this project. Watch this space for updates on our progress and information on events!

Capturing the Spirit of Southwark

By Anna K Sexton, on 19 April 2013

Last Monday I had the pleasure of visiting the Dragon Cafe for the first time.  The Dragon Cafe is the meeting place for the  Mental Fight Club which describes its mission as being:

‘…to put on imaginative events for people of all mental experience. All our events seek to connect our inner and our outer world and ourselves to one another, whoever we may be…’

The Dragon Cafe itself is like nothing I have ever experienced before.  I went not knowing anyone and had the usual mix of dread and excitement when you go to something for the first time…When I entered there was Latin American dancing in full swing, there were people sitting chatting to each other around a cafe area, there were people working together on a collective art project.  I had a cup of tea and sat and watched and felt comfortable – there was a vibrancy and a buzz of activity around the place but surprisingly it simultaneously felt calm and relaxed.

I went with the intention of joining the photo group who contribute to Mental Fight Club’s ‘Spirit of Southwark’ project. They are using disposable cameras to take photos and they go on photo walks around Southwark as a collective activity.  The group decided to explore the theme of reflections together, so off we went!

There are three observations I want to make about the experience of joining in with the group:

-Firstly, I realised that on my way to the Dragon Cafe, I did the typical thing that I always fall into when travelling from a to b.  Head down, only looking around me out of necessity – tracing street signs to work out if I was going the right way, or looking left and right at roads to prevent being mown down, but basically ignoring everything and everyone around me.  The deliberate act of going on a walk to take photos opened the possibility to see things.  I was looking up at the skylines of the buildings, I was interested in the alleyways, and I was looking for the detail and the beauty of what was around me.  This in itself is a rewarding outcome – its good to be appreciative and notice, and to question what surrounds us.

-Secondly, this experience was distinct because it was not an individual activity – it was something I was doing with others.  The enthusiasm of the other members of the group had engulfed me before we had even left the dragon cafe as they talked about photos that they had previously taken and showed me the archive they were creating.  While walking they showed me interesting shots I could try, and as I was using my camera phone, suggested playing with the settings to get different pictures. Sharing knowledge and skills on a practical level was one enjoyable element connected to doing it with others, but also one member of the group knew the area very well and hearing him talk about his life in association with the place meant I was gaining insight that I would never have got if I was doing the activity alone.  And then aside from the specifics of the photography and the connection to Southwark there was just the pleasure of walking, talking, and getting to know people.

-Thirdly, I think the end results are pretty good! I didn’t completely stick to the ‘reflections’ brief but it is definitely an element in a lot of the photos.  The credit for these goes to the co-ordinator, Liz, and the rest of the group who were the inspiration and guide.  Have a look and see what you think……

Photo Walk date: 15 April 2013. Starting at 5ish.

Starting point

Starting point

Alley b

Alley b

Alley C

Alley C

Reflecting on the shard

Reflecting on the shard

Playing with reflections

Playing with reflections

Inspired by Max

Inspired by Max

The group

The group

Fading light - getting cold

Fading light – getting cold

more london riverside 37

more london riverside 37

tourist pic

tourist pic

Meet the ECRs!

By Sarah Dhanjal, on 5 April 2013

“So, what are ECRs?” I hear you ask…  An ECR is an Early Career Researcher.  This project has 3 ECRs, who are all at early stages of an academic career.  The project gives them the opportunity to further develop their skills in working in community heritage.  Their role is to provide support to HLF ‘All Our Stories’ funded groups and to assist with our ongoing project partnerships.  Here they are to introduce themselves…

Anna

DigWWStand pic of Anna

My name is Anna Sexton and I am a PhD student in the Department of Information Studies at UCL.  My current research is being carried out in partnership with the Wellcome Library.  I am looking at how mental health has been represented over time in the Wellcome Library’s archives and manuscripts collections.  I am particularly interested in exploring ‘voice’ within these collections, and I have found that despite shifts in collecting patterns in recent decades, the ‘voice’ of the professional expert is still the predominant representation through which concepts of mental health are shaped.  I am actively seeking to contribute to redressing the balance of ‘voice’ within the collections by working with a small group of contributors with lived experience who are building digital archive collections based on their personal stories of mental health recovery.  We are hoping to launch these digital collections in November 2013.  Through this work with the Wellcome Library, I am able to explore the concept of ‘participatory practice’ and what it means in an archival context and in particular I am able to look at issues relating to power, control, authority and representation in the creation and ongoing preservation of archives.

Prior to starting my PhD, I managed the Archives Service in Peterborough where I was able to work with a range of community groups on heritage projects.  My highlights involved developing a ‘Young Cultural Creators’ programme aimed at 16-19 year olds outside mainstream education who came to create and perform poetry that used our archive collections for inspiration.  I also enjoyed working with local occupational therapists to develop local history courses for mental health service users; and I enjoyed partnering with local community groups such as the Baker Perkins Historical Society in celebrating their heritage.  I am also still involved in Peterborough as a board member for the HLF funded Forty Years On project: http://www.vivacity-peterborough.com/libraries-and-archives/forty-years-on/ Working with Eastern Angles Theatre Company on the bid and securing the funding for the project was definitely the highlight of my time in Peterborough!

 

Tina

DWWS pic of Tina

I am a PhD student at UCL Institute of Archaeology, where I also completed my BA and MA degrees in Egyptian Archaeology and Archaeology respectively. After my undergraduate degree I worked as the Institute’s Undergraduate Administrator, and I have also worked as an administrator for the Egypt Exploration Society (EES). I have worked on a range of archaeological projects in Britain, Spain and Egypt, and co-ordinated and contributed to various outreach projects, including the Festival of British Archaeology, Young Archaeologists’ Club (YAC), taster days in archaeology and adult education talks.

My doctoral research examines the role of folklore in archaeological investigations, particularly examining the emergence and reproduction of folktales associated with archaeological sites in Britain from the medieval period to the present day and the role these play in the construction of local and national identities and identity movements, as well as how such folklore represents the diverse engagements with archaeological sites by various social groups. I use historical, folkloric and archaeological archives in my research, as well as collect primary data from site visitors and local residents through questionnaires, the latter contributing to an assessment of what kinds of stories the public today tell about archaeological sites and how these fit into notions of ‘heritage.’ I am co-organiser (with the Folklore Society) of the annual ‘Popular Antiquities: Folklore & Archaeology’ conferences. My other research interests include the use and role of archaeology in popular culture, predominantly in fantasy, Gothic and horror literature and film, and in the interplay between archaeology, folklore and fantastic fiction. I am also involved with the British Film Institute’s (BFI) ‘British Gothic’ programme, for which I am contributing to the creation of educational resources using the BFI’s film and special collections archives pertaining to this theme.

 

Sarah

DWWS Sarah

Like Tina, I am also a PhD student at UCL Institute of Archaeology!  I also completed my BA in General Archaeology and MA in Public Archaeology at the Institute.  Between my undergraduate degree and my MA, I began working in museums.  I was an Explainer at the Science Museum, which was a brilliant experience and taught me a lot about presenting sometimes complex ideas to different audiences.  They also allowed me to go part-time to do my MA.  Since then I have worked at UCL as a Widening Participation Officer.  I also work as a freelance archaeology and education specialist.  This takes me to all sorts of sites and museums, working with schools (outreach and organising visits) and communities.  I have also been involved in creating interpretation for sites.  I am one of the leaders of UCL’s branch of the Young Archaeologists’ Club (YAC).  I have worked on Dig Where We Stand since it began in 2012.

My PhD research is about how people in Southall, West London, view the past.  My research is influenced by the theory of social construction, which suggests that we co-construct our knowledge and understanding of the world around us.  In particular, I am interested in exploring the relationship between people’s identities and the past.  As an archaeologist, I am interested in whether archaeology is part of this relationship or the role it could play.  My other research interests are related to the public relationship with heritage, the role of archaeology in education, and communicating the past.