Children from two primary schools (Derby City and Derbyshire) and volunteers have curated an exhibition about the First World War, which is being launched at Sudbury Hall on Friday 6 March 2015 at 1pm.
Derbyshire Remembers is a project run by award-winning theatre company Fifth Word in partnership with the National Trust, Derbyshire Record Office and Derby City Local & Family History Library. The exhibition uncovers the story of how the First World War changed the lives of people across Derby city and Derbyshire. This project has been made possible thanks to a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).
Over a period of 6 months local volunteers received training and prepared a list of archive materials at Derbyshire Record Office, Derby Local & Family History Library, National Trust properties and local museums.
From this research, child friendly archive cards were created as a starting point for working with schools. Fifth Word Theatre led two, week-long intensive school sessions where pupils worked ‘in role’ as expert museum curators tasked with the responsibility of designing a brand new exhibition for Sudbury Hall. Using specialised drama techniques, the children delved deeper into what really happened in Derby during the First World War and selected the themes and sources they found most interesting. At the end of the sessions each school created mock exhibition panels and presented back their ideas to be realised by a professional designer.
Year 6 pupils from Dale Primary school in Normanton transformed their classroom into an office where they were known as ‘Dazzling Designs’. As ‘experts’ they researched the effect the war had on the home front in Derby City and the families who were left behind. They explored the Zeppelin raid (which happened only minutes from their school) and the plight of the munitions workers from across Derbyshire. With help from the archives and volunteers, the children were able to analyse and interpret images, objects, newspaper cuttings and Art to tell the story of life on the home front a hundred years ago.
The second design Team came from Sudbury Primary School. Their class were known as ‘Super Sudbury Designs’ and their detective work enabled them to delve into personal letters, soldiers’ diaries, memoirs and official documents such as call-up notices and killed-in-action telegrams. They imagined what it might have been like to be in their shoes and used the expertise of drama practitioners to build up a picture of life on the frontline during the ‘War to End All Wars’.
The exhibition is open to everyone and will be housed at Sudbury Hall from the 6 March- 17 May. It will transfer to Kedleston Hall from 23 May – 3 September 2015 and will then travel to local schools across Derby and Derbyshire. A digital resource pack for teachers will be available online to provide a rich resource for local studies and First Word War teaching and learning across primary schools.
If you’re planning to visit the National Trust properties at Sudbury or Kedleston do keep an eye out for the exhibition!