The Junction Arts story

One of my main preoccupations of 2016 was the Junction Arts archive collection – and a fine preoccupation it was too.  Now comes an opportunity to share some of that experience with you – in the form of a specially-commissioned film, The Junction Arts Story:

Derbyshire Record Office’s first encounter with Junction Arts was back in 2012 when they brought a group of young people to carry out some research as part of a farming heritage project called Combine. A couple of years later, Junction Arts let us know that they were applying to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a community-based project relating to their archive material, to celebrate their fortieth anniversary.  We were only too happy to support the JA40 project application, especially as the proposal involved the transfer of the Junction Arts archive to us.

The application was successful. The unprocessed archive of four decades was passed into our care, and a team was assembled to set to work on appraising it and helping to catalogue it.  The team included present and former staff, trustees, academics, artists, and members of the public who had participated in Junction Arts projects over the years.  Also assisting were some pupils from Highfields School in Matlock who were taking part in a Prince’s Trust Excel course.

The project also commissioned original work from an artist in residence, composer Paul Lovatt Cooper, who visited us at the record office and spent an afternoon finding out more about the history of Junction Arts and looking through its archive material. His reflections on four decades of local artistic activity resulted in a piece of music called Valiants Arise, arranged for brass band with samba band.  Its first performance was at the Bolsover Lantern Parade in November 2016, very ably played by Whitwell Brass Band and Handmade Samba.

So how did the film come about? As part of the project, Junction Arts commissioned a film-maker, Chris Bevan, to produce a 20-minute documentary about the charity’s history, which saw its first public showing last December.  More recently, the film has been shown at the International Community Arts Festival in Rotterdam.

I have really enjoyed working with such a rich and varied archive collection. To quote from Junction Arts’s website: “The archive will be a great resource for the public and artists, and we have already had requests from artists to access the archive. The archive is unique in that this isn’t a body of work by one artist or one group. It is a myriad of artefacts and it represents the creative expression of hundreds and hundreds of local people. It tells the stories of people and communities that have experience so much change over the last 40 years through ‘art’ and this is incredibly rare”.

Most of the photographs and documents that illustrate the film come from the Junction Arts archive collection held here – if you would like find out more, you can always have a look at the catalogue of the collection.

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Junction Arts

This looks like a load of boxes in the back of a van, but trust me – it’s much more than that.  This is the archive of Junction Arts, an arts organisation based in Chesterfield, soon to celebrate its fortieth anniversary.  The papers in the boxes represent decades of highly-regarded (and fondly-remembered) work by the charity.

This is not an end but a beginning.  Over the coming months, we plan to support Junction Arts’ HLF-funded project JA40, by giving training to Junction Arts staff and volunteers so that they can set to work on appraising and describing the collection.  By the end of the process, we expect the archive to be smaller, and for information about its contents to be available on our catalogue.  It’s a way of opening up the history of Junction Arts to the world.