This blog tracks the development of a commission based around a residency at the Norfolk Record Office (NRO) in Norwich and the Parliamentary Archives (PA) in London. The project links the parliamentary outreach project People and Parliament: Connecting with Communities with the Arts In Parliament programme. The outcome of the commission will be shown on the Parliamentary website in 2013


Was the 17th July the hottest day of the year so far?

Well it felt like it, London was busy and hot, very hot. Yesterday was the Westminster launch of the artworks. This launch was both Trevor Woolery (the other commissioned artist) and myself talking about residency / project processes to an audience of around 35-40 before showing the final artworks.

Situated in a room just of Westminster Hall I had thought previously that I was the first one in the family to visit the Palace of Westminster however it transpired that my grandmother had attended a Queens speech at some point, her cousin worked in either the House of Lords or House of Commons and managed to secure her an invite.

On the train home I took the opportunity of a 2 hour journey to start sorting some of my erratic file saving the latter phases of the artwork. Deleting works in progress, duplicate files and some of the many emails (I did wonder if I should be archiving them) and today filing things away, the talk at Westminster really did mark the close of the project for me.

Time spent looking out the window allowed me to consider my next couple of projects which are currently in development. When to start the blogs for these? Onwards and upwards.


The launch event and the final post

We had the launch event today. It was a good opportunity to show the final artwork and for me to talk about the process. I like artist talks and use them to elaborate but not to explain necessarily. It was good to be able to draw out some wider research I undertook into the nature of archives and to share the editing processes.

Showing the artwork at a larger scale on the projection screen was odd, it was designed to be seen at Youtube scale, and I’ve been editing in that scale for the duration of the project also. It becomes something different at a large scale but good to see never the less. Opens up new possibilities for new projects. And this is where I find myself, people keep asking me what is next. After a bit of a rest I have some other projects on the go to move forward, but also I’ll be back at Norfolk Record Office to follow up Chase’s Directories and look at the Norfolk Annals some more. I also want to make another trip to Parliamentary Archives so I can follow up a relative who was a MP sometime in the relatively recent past.

There was talk at the launch about the digital preservation that is a central part of this project. The preservation copy will allow the artwork to be re-made in different formats in the future as necessary. My question is at what point might a decision be made not to re-make the artwork in a new format.

There was a conversation about recording my talk, it would offer a good contextual reference for anyone looking at this artwork in 50 or 100 years time. It didn’t happen at the launch but I may do a Q&A which is recorded in the next month or so.

This project has truly been an Artist Response, the project board trusted me when at interview I couldn’t exactly tell them what they would get. Being a process led artist all I can do is say how I usually work, what I am interested in and how I document everything. This was enough to secure the commission and the project board allowed me to be led by the process of the research, of working with the group – the History Detectives and the walking tours and the conversations.

My final paragraph of this blog is for thanks. To the History Detectives who were so generous with their time, knowledge and enthusiasm for the project and to the staff at the Parliamentary Archives, Curators Office and Norfolk Record Office for their ongoing support and dedication to the project.


Technical run through

Met with Susan at NRO today for a technical test ahead of the launch. Quite easily we managed to get the images matching on both laptop and projector screen. The audio was a bit more complicated, with only two audio jack sockets to choose from, I selected the wrong one which when combined with another issue, a low volume setting, it presented a problem none of us knew how to solve. Luckily Peter from the East Anglian Film Archive came along and all was sorted out very quickly. Always good to do a technical run through to ensure as smooth a delivery as possible.

The film archive has a fantastic online resource – I have chosen this film Proud City from 1955:

At the beginning of the film, people are shown participating in a walking tour of the city – passing sites I walked with the History Detectives last year.


The other side of the country

The Connecting Communities project consists of two commissions, this one and another one in Wales.

Artist Trevor Woolery worked at the Glamorgan Archives with the Grangetown Local History Society in Cardiff. Sea of Words is an animated film exploring the history of the Cardiff docks. Its a really engaging work and the singing sets its off beautifully. Take a look….…