Exhibition – The Amazing Pop Up Archives Project

Sadly we have completed our year of gallivanting around the county taking our archive collections out into the community and collecting people’s stories along the way. To celebrate the culmination of our project a special exhibition is now on in the reception area of the record office which tells the tale of a fascinating, exciting and rewarding year.

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“There are people out there with stories that will never be heard and this project was a way to tell them, a chance to be a part of something bigger in the long run.”  Emily, Pop Up volunteer

This exhibition takes us on a journey which started in Wirksworth, popped over to Ripley, down to Swadlincote, and ended in Gamesley. It features the contributions of the local people we met when we visited their neighbourhood along with songs, poems and musings created as part of the project – all inspired by Derbyshire’s archives and it’s people.

We can’t possibly fit everything we did into one exhibition so in the next few weeks we will upload a film of the project, with performances of all the songs and poems and footage from each event to the blog so keep an eye out for that.

The Amazing Pop Up Archives Project exhibition runs until the 16th March 2018.  Normal record office opening times apply.

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Collecting stories

That was what this was about. There are people out there with stories that will never be heard and this project was a way to tell them, a chance to be a part of something bigger in the long run.Emily for blog

There was uncertainty when this project began, a sense of unknowing, what we would do? Where it would take us? Who would be involved? We kept going. There were three of us to begin with, the three musketeers if you will, students of Highfields School, yet it gradually decreased to one, me. Three had gone down to Derbyshire Record Office, were introduced to the project, some of the people involved, it was interesting.

Wirksworth was the first event, a chapter covering two days. Placed on the vicarage lawn, tents housing a storyteller, dramatizing a mother’s opinion of her lady’s maid daughter’s letters from France, on how she hated the country, the food and the people. Another housed documents linking to the church and the town and the intrepid people who were faced with the task of deciphering the swirling handwriting. The sun shined over the people that day, but the wind bit the people within.

That day was the door to a wider space, one that would allow us to expand what we were trying to achieve, a collection of stories.

The second chapter was a car boot. One place where there was a greater sense of unknowing. There was a Lady of the Car Boot, collecting bits and bobs, nicks and knacks. There was cake and objects that people could find fascinating. One story told was that of the man who asked “what was being sold?” and in return was “records” to end with “have you got any Elvis”… what a day!

Next chapter was Ripley Music Festival. People of different backgrounds, professions and ages converged together to witness local music. Some visited our bright yellow tent near the playground opposite the stage, a tent that you could see from the end of the street. Filled with documents, maps, performers and archivists that wanted to hear your stories about the man that lived in the butchers at the end of the street from where you lived or that strange women that collected tins of sweets or even about how your cat escaped. It was fascinating. Everyone had a story to tell, most heart-warming of all was a man who had found a relative, one that he knew of but had never seen documentation of and a child who kept coming back for more with the promise of taking our accordion player on Britain’s Got Talent with her!

That day gave us the push that was needed to go into new places.

The final chapter was that of Gamesley. A place that was so closely intermingled yet so far apart. A divide between the new and the old, an estate so close that you could sneeze on one side to be offered a tissue at the other. There was a bucking bronco, barbecue, animals fluffy and feathered gathered together with this bright yellow tent placed in the centre. Stories collected there were intriguing, a man who remembered as a child playing on the tips, collecting circuit boards and taking them home to later in life becoming an electrician in New Zealand. Another of a man who as a boy played in an old hospital for diseases and turned to his mother when realisation kicked in to question “why?!” This was the last of the Amazing Pop Up Archives adventures, but one that rounded everything together. The efforts of the Musician, Storyteller, Poet, Student, Archivist, Photographers and Lecturer joined together to complete a story within its own right.

To end this story, there is the beginning of a new one. One that has become bigger than it was, one that would involve more people, collecting more tales and objects to have a place in history. Wirksworth was the beginning and Gamesley was an end.

But was it really?

We collected stories.

We gained knowledge.

We learned something new.

It’s the beginning of something more….

 

Emily Atkin,

Volunteer, the Amazing Pop Up Archives Project

 

Stitching the Wars

Stitching the Wars was a two-year collaboration between older people in Derbyshire and arts organisation arthur+martha. It is the story of a community that survived two world wars and harsh poverty. It is a kind of documentary, constructed with recollection, poetry and the art of stitching. The project was led by artist Lois Blackburn, who met with local people to devise and stitch two quilts and gather reminiscence. Poet Phillip Davenport then worked with the groups to write poems from these reminiscences. Within the quilts many people speak, in voices rich with experience and feeling. In a sense their work is a history, and these quilts are the page on which it is written.

Stiching the wars

The quilt ‘A Bomber’s Moon’ describes the transforming effect of the First and Second World Wars on rural life. An ancient world of horses and humans is invaded by machines. The quilt is an aerial view of fields and hillsides, perhaps the view from the bomber of the title. Into this ‘landscape’ are sewn words and phrases which link to reminiscences and poems. Most participants were British, but a few were German and they contributed their own war memories. In this way the quilt speaks from both sides of the conflict, reaching towards a common human experience. Maybe this stitching helped to mend a few wounds.

The quilt ‘Fresh Air and Poverty’, describes a quieter war, the struggle everyday people made to keep their families fed and clothed in the years before, during and after the two World Wars. Here we find tramps on the march, children sleeping top to toe in crowded beds, and scrimping and saving is everywhere. But we also find delight in one another’s company; human warmth despite the cold.

Some of the quilt-makers were people with dementia, and it was noticed that stitching in a group, alongside reminiscence conversations, had a rewarding and beneficial effect. Using creativity, colour, touch and companionship to work to an ambitious goal, participants discovered the joy in remembering their early lives. These quilts are a communal act of remembering, a history made by community.

And it tells us: we are all made of this.

An exhibition of the quilts, poetry and reminiscences created throughout the project will be on show at the record office from Wednesday 4th October 2017 to Friday 4th January 2018 (normal opening hours apply).

(Image: Garry Lomas)

Horses and horticulture – Heritage Open weekend at Calke Abbey

Specially selected items from the Harpur-Crewe family archive, held at the record office, will return home to Calke Abbey this Saturday. It will be our third visit in as many years, and we are delighted to be invited back to this unique estate.

Visitors to the National Trust property can view original records of those who lived and worked at Calke. We are taking a fascinating selection of records with us, including family letters and diaries, photograph albums, tenant’s registers, maps and one of the oldest documents in the collection – a deed dating from the 12th century. This year we have been asked to include material relating to the gardens at Calke and the families’ interest in horses.

Our staff will be based in the Learning Room and will be on hand to talk to visitors about these historic documents and offer advice and information about the work of the record office and the services we offer.

As part of the Heritage Open weekends this event is free as is entry into the house, so come along and see us, we’ll be there from 12pm-4pm.

For more information visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/calke-abbey or telephone Calke Abbey on 01332 863822.

Calke Abbey, Ticknall, Derbyshire, DE73 7LE

I wonder what you miss if you stick to the path?

Pop Up Evaluator Sara looks back over The Amazing Pop Up Archives Project so far.

So how can the archives lead the story? We begin again from another place, another part of our own history with this project. As individuals, with our own unique interests, we begin to play with the Archives themselves. I follow Pop Up Project researcher Kate Henderson, with a handful of students and we are taken to The Local Studies Library. This feels how it should do, intuitive, personal, hands-on, and strangely collaborative. We are here together finding and sharing our own topics and places of interest in these archives. Of course many of the original documents in The Archive are irreplaceable, but here in the local studies library we can leaf through drawers and drawers of cards catalogued in often quite extraordinary ways in these Cabinets of Curiosity. Such cataloguing is often quirky, and curiously beautiful.

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As we call for and are brought the referenced published materials, the books, newspapers, articles, programmes, the photographs draw me in. They instil in me the idea of wonderment, of being privy to this extraordinary collection of wonders of Derbyshire, of wondering with purpose, of wonder for its own sake. I wonder what you miss if you stick to the path, how you wonder with ideas, how wonderment itself can become the framework of a process.

All good things….

I can’t really believe it but we are just two days away from our final event for the Amazing Pop Up Archives Project!  Our project has been a few years in the making and now it seems rather strange that once Wednesday is over we won’t have any more exciting (and often a bit bizarre!) events to plan. Officially the project runs until the end of November, but that time will be spent writing case studies should other intrepid Pop Up projects wish to follow in our wake, designing an exhibition and prepping the project archive for cataloguing.

If you are up Gamesley way on Wednesday afternoon we will be ‘popping up’ at the annual Meet the Neighbours Day which takes place at Winster Mews.  In this event we will be focusing on the meaning of home and community.  We’ll have a range of records from our collections to spark conversation and lots for the kids to get involved in.  So come and see what the Story of the Silver Spoons, the song ‘Dirty Old Town’, a poem about green beans, a ‘domesday’ book, a cooking pot and an empty suitcase all have in common. The Amazing Pop Up Archives Project – bizarre to the last!

Proud to be at Pride

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I had a fabulous day at Chesterfield Pride on Sunday.  As well as enjoying a hefty serving of cheesy pop, not to mention a riot of rainbows and glitter, I had some great conversations with individuals from the LGBT+ community about their history.  It was a privilege to hear people’s stories, particularly those who had gone through some tough times in the past.  It was good to hear how things have changed and are still changing.

          “You’re trying to redress the balance….good on you”

At the record office we represent all aspects of Derbyshire life and all communities – the LGBT+ community is no different.  However, trying to identify material relating to LGBT+ history within our collection can be tricky.  Terminology has changed, we use the term ‘gay’ very differently to how it was used 100 years ago.  Sadly, much of what we know we have relating to LGBT+ history is negative – Calendar of Prisoners (you can see one in the slide show) and court records list convictions, for example, and often these are the references which are easiest to find.  But this does not tell the whole truth.

That’s why we are working with our friends at Derbyshire LGBT+ to encourage volunteers to delve into our collections to uncover those “Other Stories” which will undoubtedly be in our archive, but are at the moment a little harder to find.  We are also encouraging people to donate their own records so that our collections relating to LGBT+ history can grow and become more representative of this vibrant, strong and proud community.

Chesterfield Pride 2017

Chesterfield Pride returns to Queen’s Park this Sunday.  Last summer saw over 3000 people attend the one day free event and this year hopes are that the event will be even bigger.

There will be lots to see and do including live music (anyone remember 80s pop star Hazell Dean?), market stalls, fair ground and food and drink.

The record office will be there with our friends from Derbyshire LGBT+.  Come and see us in the tented area where we’ll have lots of information on the “Other Stories” project, the record office’s collections relating to the LGBT+ community and information how you can help grow our collection, ensuring the history of the LGBT+ community in Derbyshire is saved for future generations.

Come and say hi!

Reflection on the Car Boot Sale – an unedited stream of consciousness story by Maria

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The Amazing Pop Up Archives’ Storyteller Maria Whatton reflects on when we ‘popped up’ at the car boot sale on the Swadlincote/Measham border.

 

How beautiful the world is at 5 a.m. on a Sunday summer morning.

So quiet.

Warm.

Light.

The pit of my stomach churns at the early rise.

Porridge at 5.15 a.m. a gluey paste.

 

The Sat Nav keeps getting lost.

Unnamed Road it shouts.

Unnamed Road as it sends the car twisting down empty lanes

curling through green fields.

 

At 6.30 a.m. turning into the Car Boot

the world of the field is already as full as a city.

Stalls are crowded with colourful tat.

Buyers are purposeful, hungry, eager to buy bargains.

Sellers have spread yesterday’s usefulness on wallpaper tables

in the hope of turning it into today’s little wealth.

 

It’s 6.35 a.m. and the cars are bumper to bumper

snaking in, feeding their pitch cash to the man with the tin.

A colony of Car booters are on the march

mauling mugs, lego men and anti macassars.

 

Our purple and yellow stalls are up

thanks to the bravery of Paula, Wendy and Debi,

who slept in the field all night, sharing poo stories and attempting sleep.

We turn to each other with tired eyes and yawn:

“Are we not mad? Whose crazy idea was this anyway?”

Oh yes, we remember, it was ours.

 

Debi’s van is ready for me to sit and tell stories.

Dressed with tea cups and tea pots, silky cloths and simple stool.

I could kiss her. How thoughtful. It’s the perfect place to tell my tales: a sitting stage, with plastic chairs, a makeshift auditorium – open air.

 

It’s these details that turn the Pop Up Archive into a circus, a magic carpet, a cinema of creativity that brings the past to people out for the morning on a mission to spend a fiver or three.

We haul out the glass vitrines from the van, rolled scrolls of documents and mysterious death mask.

Karen has packed her snugly and with gentle care.

Unpacks her with a light touch, removing bubble wrap and tissue.

(Who was this young woman? Rich or poor? How did she die? Why was her face counterfeited in this way?).

 

A coffee run is immediate as we meet and check plans for the day.

7.30 a.m. and the temporary toilets are already daubed with car booters’ scat and frilled with emergency tissue. There’s nowhere to wash your hands.

 

I chat with Kristian and the lovely young girl with the long blonde hair

whose name I don’t catch because I’m also talking with her Dad and hearing about his map making days.

 

She helps me with the ghost story I have invented about Gresley Hall that houses details of historical facts.

We discuss the nature of the monastery. “Were they Cistercians?”

“Did they wear white?” I need to check.

It’s important for the story.

I sing a Latin hymn like a monk.

 

Soon there is a different music gently playing.

Julian squeezes notes into hamburger air and Debi joins him to dance through the lanes of tables stuffed with clutter. The Pied Pipers of Measham.

She’s wearing a dress clanking with bric a brac: an Aladdin’s lamp, pottery jugs, and leather slung drum.

They cause a delightful stir and are followed back to our pitch by two enchanted children.

Someone says she’s a nutter. They don’t like nutters and they wave her away.

But most people are tuned in to joy and are gladdened as she spins and twirls.

 

All morning Archivists and Artists collect folk’s stories and pin them to an ancient looking map.

The red thread laces together old needle factories, elasticated web emporiums, a Mothers’ anecdotes and hard won fields where grandchildren now play.

 

The death mask opens her eyes, while we are all so busy.

She steals a look at us and listens intently, smiling broadly to herself when no one is looking.

The Pop Up Archive” she whispers “thank you for giving me some fresh air away from my stuffy box. I remember going to market myself when I was alive, and you know what? People haven’t changed. Not a bit.”

Matt stands in front of our newly purchased gazebos wafting families our way

to hear a tale or write a tag or two.

He’s a calm and casual director of traffic in bright blue trousers and Fedora in case it’s sunny,

he’s never put off by a shake of the head.

Wendy and Paula disarm each new visitor and charm

stories from their tongues onto paper tags.

 

And all of a sudden 5 hours have past.

There’s a shift change.

Folk are beginning to drift away.

Patches of empty grass appear.

 

A Romanian family tell us their story.

A brother and sister say they like England and that people are nicer here than back home.

Their English is fluent. The little girl says she’d learnt most of it in 3 months.

They stay and listen to my traditional tales and say they’d like to tell them again in school on Monday.

 

They are the last. It’s time to pack up.

The hoards of bargain hunters are dispersing, replaced by thousands of small black flies that have turned our yellow gazebo into an inferno of dots.

“Gosh look at them!” I say to Matt.

“Yes, they are thunder flies and them landing like that, means there’ll be a storm in five hours time.”

“Is that true?” I ask.

“No” he replies “I just made it up.”

 

Heaving and hauling.

Rolling up of documents and maps and rugs.

The gazebos snap shut like

stiff umbrellas. It’s a team effort.

 

We just have time to listen to Matt’s poem

and join in the chorus.

I buy the chair he’s been sitting on for a tenner

even though I’ve got nowhere to put it at home.

It is a Car Boot after all.

You’ve got to buy something haven’t you?

I’ll sand it and polish it and make a cushion to hide the defects.

It will be my Pop Up throne.

 

The Next Pop Up event will be at the Gamesley Community Day on 2nd August – more details to follow.

 

 

Records and revelling at Ripley

At a loss to know what to do this weekend?  Why not join The Amazing Pop Up Archives team at the Ripley Music Festival on Saturday.

We’ll be ‘popping up’ with our wonderful yellow and purple tents  full of fascinating records relating to Ripley people and places.  Will you find your ancestors in the First World War Absent Voters list or in the survey of Butterley Company employees (did your ancestors live in a household without a bible? – yes, that was a question on the survey)?

From tales of the Pentrich Revolution and First World War there will be songs and happenings for all the family, so lots to see and take part in.  Make your mark on our map or add to our index cards – just one little snippet about you or your history is all it takes to become a permanent part of the record office collection.

We look forward to seeing you at Crossley Park  (DE5 3GT) from 1pm onwards this Saturday.