#hoadontour Photo Competition

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Over the summer our undergraduate students took part in a light-hearted photo competition sharing snippets of the exciting things they got up to over the break!

We promised the entrant with the most inspiring/original photo a year’s membership to either the Tate or the V&A – so not a bad prize for tagging your holiday snaps! Photographs were uploaded to Instagram and Twitter and with so many great entries we invited Professor Francis Hodgson to judge them.

Francis lectures in the Culture of Photography here at the University of Brighton and as an internationally recognised critical writer on photography we thought he was well-placed to scrutinize our entries.

Here’s what he had to say:

I find that a number of pictures competed in my mind for prizes, and several could be listed as ‘honourable mentions’. But I am asked to name three.

Kane Preston's Entry

Kane Preston’s Entry: “Ancient Greek statue with my brother filling in the gap.”

In third place is a pleasant study where a live person gives animation to a sculptural figure and by extension to the whole business of ‘old rocks’. A little tiny moment of performance is enough to make us see that a visit to the museum was fun and engaging. The near-accuracy of the match of two scales, of person and of sculpture, makes a visual pun, reinforced by the plausible ‘sky’ of the background.

All in all, a quick light way to load a photograph to make it memorable and meaningful. Congratulations to Kane Preston (Museum and Heritage Studies).

In second place, is a simple view of the Albert Dock in Liverpool in which the architectural masses counter each other nicely between old and new, former working buildings against new living spaces. Two strong dark reflective masses make the structure of the picture– water closer to the camera and a pair of dark buildings angled across the upper half of the image. Beyond these a number of well‐known towers and domes cluster as though competing for their new position in the re-shaped city. A few ships convey a suggestion of stilled maritime activity.

Alice Hudson's Entry

Alice Hudson’s Entry: “Fab weekend in Liverpool #albertdock”

A very brightly coloured lifebelt at the right front not only adds a solid anchor to the whole composition but can be read as the metaphorical indicator of the rescue of a once‐derelict area that has successfully taken place through generations of reclamation. Congratulations Alice Hudson (Fashion and Dress History).

Sarah Geissler's Entry

WINNER – Sarah Geissler’s Entry: “Archive tour at #Beamish”

In first place, a view in the archive of the Beamish Museum in County Durham. In this view, the mere presence of a modern set of steps is enough to make the picture. The bulk of the view is in a muted near monochrome, entirely appropriate to the holdings of the museum. But the vibrant blue step ladder in the foreground makes all the difference. By that gesture, viewers are reminded that the museum is not merely a frozen repository, but is a working community assembling a number of skilled activities around the shared common purposes of the museum. It is only because our attention has been held by that bright blue slash of the steps that we move further into the picture able to distinguish the elements that are not at all as ‘olde worlde’ as they appear and that we might not have noticed otherwise: archival box files, plastic crates, an electric clock, security grille and soon. The entirely contemporary powder‐coated blue metal structure was enough to lead us into a picture which is in fact quite a neat play on the two functions of the museum, to engage the new in the preservation of the old. Congratulations to Sarah Geissler (Fashion and Dress History), for making a proper little photograph from the simplest of elements in front of her.

If you want to view all the #hoadontour entries just search the hashtag on Twitter and Instagram!

Working as an Oral Historian at Eastside Community Heritage

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Paul Beard, a graduate of Brighton’s BA (hons) History of Design, Culture and Society, describes how the degree sparked an interest in capturing other people’s stories – and led to an exciting opportunity…

Oral history is not necessarily an instrument for change; it depends upon the spirit in which it is used […] it can give back to the people who made and experienced history, through their own words. – Paul Thompson, Voices of the Past, 1978

Recently I have taken a position as an Oral Historian and Heritage Trainee at Eastside Community Heritage. As a part of a Heritage Lottery Funded (HLF) project called Skills for the Future, Eastside Community Heritage and other partner organisations are working together to develop historical and heritage skills. Focusing on East London histories from 1900, the position is geared towards training a new generation of oral historians.

Eastside Community Heritage, based in Ilford, is a community history charity funded by HLF. Run by director Judith Garfield, Eastside work collaboratively alongside a number of local community groups, charities and historical societies to document and exhibit the experience of everyday life in East London. Some of the current projects being developed include: Little German, Stratford and East London (focusing on the lives of German immigrants in and around Newham during the First World War) and Jewish Migration Routes: From East End to Essex tracing the stories of Jewish families who have moved from county to county.

'Peace Tea Party' Barking and Dagenham, 1918,

‘Peace Tea Party’ Barking and Dagenham, 1918, image courtesy of LBBD Archives, Valence House

As a part of my role, I am working on a number of different projects. One is an exhibition on display from 11th August 2014 at Barking Learning Centre, entitled The Great War in Pictures and Words. The exhibition curated, researched and developed by myself and a colleague explores the stories and day-to-day experience of soldiers and families through oral history and images found in the archive from an on going project. The exhibition is a part of the centenary commemorations of the First World War and uncovers the stories of those that would otherwise be lost.

Another project that I am contributing to is Woodberry Down: The People’s Story aimed at engaging the community in one of the largest housing estate in Europe with their own heritage. Woodberry Down is located in Manor House in Stoke Newington, Hackney and is currently under redevelopment by Genesis Housing Association. Woodberry Down: The People’s Story aims to document and record the experiences of living in Woodberry Down in light of the redevelopments that are happening. By using reminiscence sessions, oral history interviews and vox-pops, Eastside are working alongside the old and new communities to facilitate cohesion in the community.

Woodberry Down is an interesting case study for a number of reasons. As one of the pioneering new council estates to be built in post-war Britain, various buildings received awards at 1951 Festival of Britain for architecture. Fast-forward forty years, the same estate that represented utopian ideologies, it was then used in Spielberg’s Schindler’s List as the setting for the Jewish ghettos. These contentious issues of race, religion and class still remain contentious issues and are causing tension in the local area. With plans of redevelopment, Genesis and other organisations view it as crucial to ensure that the potential two-tier community in Woodberry Down are brought together to re-establish the old community atmosphere.

The importance of documenting oral history and life stories is become more and more prominent in cultural history. In areas such as Newham, Redbridge and Hackney it is becoming a key tool in re-engaging communities with their heritage. By putting on a range of different events, Eastside Community Heritage bring history back to the people and allow those who do not necessarily have the option to participate in heritage to have the opportunity to do so.

Studying at Brighton on the BA History of Design course gave me a solid understanding of life in the cultural heritage sector. Oral history was a method that I was eager to explore at undergraduate level. The degree gave me a good grounding in oral history as a method. Being introduced to it in the second year module entitled Constructing Historical Research, it was something I wanted to explore in my research; after completing my first interview for my dissertation research I was hooked. Curating has also formed a key part in this position; as skill that I only briefly explored in my studies. From a first year Interpreting Objects module to the final year exhibition (and a couple of small projects I had volunteered on) I had little experience curating an exhibition. This role has allowed me to build upon the skills that I had developed on the course.

There is something special about listening documenting the stories of those who are not ordinarily heard in history. After gaining a strong background in memory as a method, it was something I was eager to take on further in my career.

For more information on Eastside Community Heritage please visit the website: www.hidden-histories.org.uk.