A guest-post from Judi Alston of One to One Development Trust - about a project funded by Wakefield Council's Creative Partners Grant Scheme, working with Wakefield Museum...
Most people have something that holds a special significance to them, it may be a piece of jewellery, a picture, a toy from their childhood, an ornament from a grandparent or parent, a tool from a trade, or medals won in a war.
Curate Your Own is an inter-generational digital media project encouraging participants to explore their personal heritage through storytelling whilst contributing to a 3D virtual People's Museum installation.
The canvas for Curate Your Own was blank until our participants started contributing their stories and photos. A rich and diverse tapestry of life and human experience began building up.
The artefacts are the key to this beautiful project, the triggers that encourage and sometimes unlock participants to share something special. A modern dictionary of anthropology defines an artefact as ‘an object of any type made by human hands’. It is the human connection between the ‘object’ and our participant that is all important. The question is asked ‘what is it in our lives that is significant and has value’. Often these artefacts lack financial value what sits behind them is a deeper mindful connection, often to times past and people who have gone. Reminiscing is life affirming and promotes a sense of self identity so often lost through old age or lack of opportunity or aspiration.
|Horse Groom for the Queen|
As a participant holds up a doll she’s had for 90 years, her eyes sparkle and an infectious smile lights the room, she talks of her family, what they ate, the games they played, the clothes they wore – a vivid picture of life in Knottingley in the 1920’s. She laughs with embarrassment ‘you’re not interested in this surely’ the other members of the group hanging onto her every word reassure her they are, and its true they are. Photographs are taken, filming is done. A younger participant contributes a photo of her xylophone, it’s from the 1970’s and is her ‘antique’ – its pop art style face ‘makes me happy and reminds me of my childhood’. The generations are talking, laughing, sharing and telling.
Research in early sessions showed that the majority of participants had not been to any cultural attractions in Wakefield including museums or galleries, trips were organised, large coach booked and plans made to introduce them to the new Wakefield Museum. The results were amazing. A consensus of awe, excitement and enthusiasm.
|Addy Luncheon Club at Wakefield Museum|
“I can’t believe this is in Wakefield”
“I will tell our lad about this so we can come with the grandkids”
“Its free, certainly not boring and the people working here are sound and tell you all about whatever you want to know”
“when are we coming again?”
|Sharing memories at Wakefield Museum|
Stories triggered by the museum exhibitions flowed freely, local knowledge was abundant, staggering even the knowledgeable and hospitable Curator John Whitaker. The process of successful community engagement was realised, it began where it should on the doorstep of participants, in the community, in a local safe environment. Without building confidence and a relationship between participants, their stories, and the digital artists – the trip would not have been so successful or creatively rich.
|Doreen Z having fun with wigs|
The 3D Peoples Museum is curated by the participants who've contributed. Visitors who will explore the virtual environment, can navigate through a 3D space, they are accompanied by Poppy the museum cat. The contributions from all the participants are on the walls and on display, there are interactive video and audio clips that can be accessed.
|Curate Your Own Gallery|
As digital artists we are pushing the boundaries of storytelling by seeking new and interactive ways to make the stories of the past accessible to new audiences in the future, it’s important we strive forward with our own creative practice and Curate Your Own is a great platform for stretching what we can do . This creative process is attractive to many of our older participants who want their stories preserved and valued and appreciate the process of creative exploration within this project.
Participants will all get a printed booklet from the project celebrating their stories as well as another trip to the museum to see the installation in place in situ. Curate Your Own will also be available online and DVDs of the stories will be distributed freely to contributors.
Curate Your Own is working with groups in Knottingley, Portobello, Airedale and Kinsley as well as encouraging contributions through social media via twitter #curateyourown
The installation and booklet will be launched in March 2014. Curate Your Own is run by One to One Development Trust a Creative Partner of Wakefield Council.
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