Art work by students at Four Dwellings
Hello today we are going to talk about Four Dwellings High school and Waverley school working to make everything go together. The launch is on 22 march 2012.
Everybody involved in the children’s life project has their own part in our making of the archive. Four Dwellings High school are going to explain the project at assemblies this week.
Tia, one of the Four Dwellings curators
Later this week the curators and recorders from both schools are going to meet with the designers from a company called 24design.
This has been another blog from Raheem, Lucy and Herikles.
One of Four Dwellings's pet turkeys!
Documentary photography workshops started in school this week, the second of our skills training workshops for the young people creating and curating the 21st century part of Children’s Lives.
Last week we focussed on story telling skills, how to listen to the stories of others and how to tell the stories of your own life in a confident way with lots of description and detail. See Juliet Fry’s Blog post for more details.
Re-visiting some of the photographs we had seen in collections in the archives a couple of weeks ago was useful, both for reminding us of images we liked and for triggering a discussion on which photos were effective in telling a story of the past. Everyone seemed drawn to a different style of photo and it gave us a sense that there were many ways to take a documentary photo and many different styles to consider when trying to capture something that may tell us things in the future. We considered landscape photos (Warwickshire Photographic Survey), posed studio photos (Dyche Collection), school photos (Waverley School Collection), photos taken by charities working with poor children in early 1900s and more contemporary photographs by Vanley Burke and George Hallett. The focus for the workshop was thinking about how we could capture our own documentary photos for the project and how to select the right photo that would say something about the contemporary life of young people. We had a good discussion on whether posed or natural photos were more effective as documentary photos and which of these styles would tell more about the lives of young people in Birmingham now.
There was just time to practice taking a few photos in the playground and around school and to have a chat about photography permission forms before our session came to an end.
With half term next week, the idea is that the young people on the project will have some time to start documenting their lives through photography, where they go, who they hang out with, what sports, clubs and activities they do, what it’s like living in their house, down their street, in that area of the city. Keep a look out for the results…..
I was lucky enough to work with four groups of Year 8 students from Waverley and Four Dwellings Schools to help them begin to be storytellers and talk about different aspects their lives and to explore what kinds of things they’d like to record for the Children’s Lives exhibition at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery.
I found the young people in both settings to be very open, funny and confident in telling us their stories even though for three of the groups we had never met before! During the session the students were asked to describe and talk about what they did after school, what their bedrooms were like and to share with each other their most precious objects and what they did to escape into their imaginations.
What came across was how much technology is a part of their lives and a tool for their continuing friendships out of school and how important their families were to them. It’s going to be very exciting finding out what stories make it to the exhibition and how the young people will respond to becoming archivists and part of the archives themselves!
Juliet Fry, Head of Projects at The Play House
Image used with kind permission of Vanley Burke. Not for reproduction
We have begun the selection process of archive material to show the two groups of young people from Four Dwellings High School and Waverley School when they come in to the archives in two weeks time to kick start the Young People’s Archive part of Children’s Lives. This project has been long in the planning…..so both Izzy and I are itching to get started, to meet the young people we’re going to be working with and start talking to them about the project.
Looking at the material with Nicola today felt exciting and affirming of the young people’s part of the project; there are some fantastic archives of children’s lives in Birmingham Central Library Archives, beautiful images which tell you much and raise many questions, funny, quirky and sad accounts of children’s lives from school records to instructional manuals to youths on how to stay healthy: “Every morning take a cold bath……”1 But, as you would expect, the voice of the child is very quiet. And, that’s hopefully where the young people come in…
In our first workshop we are looking back at the lives of children in Birmingham through official records, through memories in oral histories; through photos, manuals, reports and newscuttings. There are rich and diverse collections that tell many stories. The Young People’s Archive part of the project will add to these collections in an important way, especially by helping to include more young people’s voices.
We are starting the project knowing that that this is only a beginning. We are excited to be adding to a collection in the words of young people – and equally important is that the young people themselves record these stories and experiences. These stories will form part of the Young People’s Archive, which will be found at the Library of Birmingham.
Hope you enjoy reading the blog!
1 From Suggested Rules of Health and Other Information for Youths at Bournville, MS1536, Box 5