London is an amazing place to work but it’s always exciting when we get the opportunity to visit other places around the UK. I hadn’t been to Leeds since my friend got married there so it was lovely to visit again and travel out to the suburbs. Middleton Park is the sort of park that Londoners dream of, basically they seem to have fenced off a forest to protect it from the city. We were there to visit the Young Archaeologists’ Club and William, one of the members who had won Young Archaeologist of the Year.
Miggy Park, as locals call it, has received several rounds of funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund which has enabled the park to explore its mining heritage and build a visitor centre that includes a flexible space that is both a cafe and community work space. The archaeologist club has grown out of a series of HLF funded programmes and was incredibly popular, with the parents as well as the young people, and we were nearly bursting out of the room. After the session William and his family showed us around the park they have grown up with and William pointed out some of the work they had completed as part of the funded project. Take a look at the final video here:
Although a flying visit, it was a real pleasure to once again visit a corner of the country that we might otherwise never have encountered and see how much pleasure people are getting from parks and heritage on their doorsteps.
Towards the end of 2015, we went back to the wonderful Dulwich Picture Gallery to prepare their 2016 preview video. It’s always exciting to hear what is going to be coming into the gallery each year, and this year is no different.
We spoke to curators Ian Dejardin and Xavier Bray about major exhibitions by artists such as Nikolai Astrup, Winifred Knights and Adriaen van de Velde. Dr Bray then also told us about temporary displays in the main gallery including an installation by contemporary artist Mark Wallinger being shown alongside van Dyck’s self portrait, revealing X-Ray images and reuniting works by Dou that haven’t been seen together since they were exhibited in 1665.
In summer 2015, we met Dr Ellen Harris, a Handel scholar that took us on a tour of Mayfair and introduced us some of the characters that were the great composer’s friends and neighbours for an insightful video for Handel House Museum. The video was inspired by an exhibition on display in the museum at 25 Brook Street which was itself based on Dr Harris’s book: George Frideric Handel – A Life with Friends
Since filming, Handel House has changed its name to reflect its fuller history and new exhibitions. Handel and Hendrix in London now includes a full replica of Jimmy Hendrix’s apartment. Hendrix lived at 23 Brook Street in the late 1960s and the museum has expanded to incorporate a fuller musical history.
Every summer, the Horniman hosts a large outdoor event and, for the second year, we were invited to capture the community coming together in Forest Hill. This yeah, Africa was the theme for the whole of the summer in the museum and gardens inspired by their incredible African collections. Africarnival was the culmination of all the events and activities that had happened before it.
We were really struck by the scale of the event and the incredible atmosphere across the gardens as audiences watched acrobats, danced to live bands, paraded in the carnival, took dance workshops, ate Ghanian street foods and generally smiled from ear to ear. It was truly joyous to share in the experience with such a diverse crowd that could only be found in London.
Thissummer we had the pleasure of working with Chelsea Physic Garden to create a video exploring the many aspects that makes the garden such a lovely place to visit and support. Through insightful conversations with staff and volunteers, it was clear how much passion there is for this “hidden gem”. It was wonderful to have the garden and its history open up to us yet still leave us feeling like there is much more to discover.
The Horniman completed their on going project to review their collections earlier this year and we were invited to capture elements of their final theme, War and Peacemaking. We worked closely with curator Tom Crowley to film a number of incredible objects from the store and were introduced to contemporary cultural practice and art pieces that are directly linked to these objects. It was a revelation to hear how seriously museum professionals take the display of weaponry and indeed how loosely the the understanding of what makes a weapon may be in some cultures. There were a great many messages, ideas and events to capture for this film and yet we still only feel like we were scratching the surface of this complex topic.
I would encourage you to watch the film and leave your comments or visit the Horniman’s website for more information.
Earlier this year we were commissioned to by Heritage Lottery Fund to capture an evening of events discussing the involvement of the Empire in the First World War. The event was to draw attention to their funding stream encouraging people to investigate how their community was involved in the war. It was a completely fascinating event and we met an exciting range of people including veterans from the West Indies, currently serving officers, actors, historians, authors and interested secondary students.
The contribution to the war effort by soldiers from India, Africa and the West Indies was not something that I was at all familiar with and the more we learned the more fascinating we realised this hidden story was. Simple facts like there were more Indian soldiers fighting in the war than White British Stories to individual stories of young black men rising through the ranks to lead troupes made me question how such fascinating and emotional stories could be missing from the narrative of the First World War. One veteran of the Second World War, Sam King, who was also the first black Mayor of Southwark, told us of one example where this was case for him:
Please watch this video and then research some the background to these stories and find out how the Great War really was a world effort, hopefully more stories will emerge thanks to this funding stream from the HLF.
We recently completed a film for the Handel House Museum exploring the composer’s connection with the Royal family during his time in London. It was a fantastic opportunity to speak with knowledgeable and enthusiastic people about a fascinating period in London’s history. We heard all sorts of rumours including one hinting that Handel may have been a spy when he first arrived in London but, as ever, not everything can make the final cut.
We spent one lovely serene day filming between the grey walls of the room where Handel died in his bed and treading on the (squeaky) original floorboards that Handel would have trodden on between bouts of writing not only The Messiah but the great pieces that can be heard in the film, all pieces that were written specifically for members of the Stuart and Hanoverian dynasties.
As part of the review of their anthropology collections, the Horniman invited 32 lucky local people to engage creatively with some key objects from that collection. The Community Fieldworkers, as they were known, were given special access to the collections store and training on how to work with and consider the objects they would be responding to. They were then sent 18 postcards, each one showing a different object. From this stimulus they were asked to create, research, respond or tell a story based on at least one of the objects they felt a connection with.
All of these responses were gathered together for public display one afternoon in the Horniman’s pavilion building and we were invited along to record the work and chat to a small handful of the fieldworkers who contributed to the project. The work was very diverse and often very beautiful. The Community Fieldworkers had really risen to the challenge of engaging with the objects and everyone’s responses were so individual that I can only say I wish I had more time to really look through it all.
Nicola Scott was one of the coordinators of the project and tells us a little bit more about it here:
Then we heard from the fieldworkers who made pieces ranging from spoken word readings to Sculpture via collage and maps!
There was a wonderfully warm and community atmosphere as visitors, fieldworkers, friends and family investigated and documented the work for themselves.