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Capturing Oral Histories on the Roseland

Posted on: 21st December 2018 No Comments

It’s been all hands to the deck, or should we say all ears to the walls, as we launched into the ‘A Window in Time’ project in St.Mawes and St.Just on the Roseland this month.

We started by delivering a very enjoyable training session to members of the St.Just and St.Mawes Heritage Group, arming them with all the skills they need to conduct oral history interviews into the future. Whilst practising what they had learned in pairs, the memories flowed and it became clear that this group contains many voices that also need capturing as part of the project. So armed with their notes and with a new audio recorder on order, we hope the people who attended will enjoy spending more time with each other doing just this.

We have also begun our own recordings, visiting people in their homes to capture their memories of the buildings at the heart of St.Mawes and St.Just and in turn capturing a snapshot of life on the Roseland peninsula over the past century. As always it’s such a privilege to spend time with people listening to their memories, and the variety of stories have been fascinating to hear.

 

Here are a few of the lovely characters we have had the pleasure in recording so far.

A Window in Time’ is being delivered in partnership with the St.Just and St.Mawes Heritage Group and is possible with thanks to funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Starling Gatherings in Four Lanes

Posted on: 17th December 2018 No Comments

To honour the stories we have been collecting from the starlings of Four Lanes we wanted to involve the participants in the making of a communal artwork, which would celebrate their memories and could be shared amongst the congregations. With this in mind we arranged a series of sessions in Four Lanes Methodist Chapel and invited all the interviewees to come and help shape the next part of the project.

 

The recordings had given us a wealth of material and so we transcribed many quotes to encourage memory sharing within the group. Reading the quotes aloud jogged many more memories and more stories emerged and were shared with the group. It was lovely to see people who had not spoken for a long time reconnect through sharing stories and photographs.

 

To help decide how best to transform these wonderful stories into a lasting piece of artwork we introduced the group to other examples of ways of interpreting and representing stories in a creative way. After a clever suggestion from Father Peter, it was decided that the group will repurpose the perspex figures issued by the British Legion for Remembrance Sunday as objects that could trap images, photos and text and be mobile enough to live in both the church and the chapel; our own crowd, or congregation of stories.

Working as a group we whittled down quotes and photographs under a series of key themes that had emerged. To add extra interest we also asked the group to identify any images or colours that could go alongside the text and photos, for example a bottle of pop for Tea Treats. This brought up lots of interesting ideas and the stitchers of the group went away with lists of what to make over the holiday period. Even Father Peter went home with a task! …..to stitch a Marigold coach that would take them to Tea Treats.

 

We really look forward to the next workshop in the New Year (Tuesday 15th January 2019- 10:30am-4pm- drop in anytime- everyone welcome) when we will be assembling the figures and adding more embellishment. There was talk of a celebration and procession of the figures when they are complete in the spring of 2019. Watch this space!!!

 

These sessions were part of the ‘A Flock of Stories project which is kindly funded by the Cornwall Heritage Trust.

‘A Window in Time’ project begins

Posted on: 12th December 2018 2 Comments

1932- Ladies outing from St.Just in Roseland

‘A Window in Time – St Just and St Mawes Remembers’ is an exciting new project emerging through the mellow mists for Storylines this autumn of 2018. It will explore the narratives hidden behind the historic buildings of these 2 beautiful Cornish villages through a series of oral history interviews and Memory Walks, ultimately producing a series of films to be shared at future events and workshops.

 

Over the decades countless visitors and locals will have passed the rows of shops and houses lining the harbour front at St Mawes or peeped through the windows of the quaint houses in the historic square of St Just and wondered about the daily lives of the occupants who have inhabited these spaces. How did they earn a living? How have their lives changed over the years? Have the buildings had a change of use or been altered? These are some of the questions that Storylines is hoping to answer as they embark on this new project in partnership with the St Just and St Mawes Heritage group.

 

Pomerys Garage in St Mawes

A generous grant of £10,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund will enable the project to unearth the memories of these buildings revealing the changing physical, social and economical changes that have occurred over the decades. One fine example of the changing nature of buildings in this locality is Pomery’s garage in St Mawes which the St.Just & St.Mawes Heritage Group inherited in 2016 and are now working hard to renovate as a permanent Heritage Centre. This building has a varied and intriguing history, its usage changing continually from a pilchard shed to a WW2 reading Room to an artist’s studio to a garage to a gig club. A fascinating cultural journey which Storylines is looking forward to capturing in voices and images.

 

St.Mawes

Celebrations are always a big part of Storyline’s work and a further part of the project will be the 2 screenings of the 3 films produced from the amalgamation of the interviews and the memory walks. These are a means of bringing the whole community together to honour their heritage and also as a stimulus to inspire other groups to celebrate what they have on their doorstep. With this in mind the films will also be used to inspire the local primary school children and youth group through a series of creative workshops. In the future we hope that the memories and material gathered throughout the project will be transformed and displayed as an integral part of the future St.Just and St.Mawes Heritage Centre.

 

Listening to Chattering Starlings

Posted on: 5th December 2018 No Comments

There’s a local saying in the village of Four Lanes just outside Camborne that they are ‘one step nearer to heaven’. It’s not surprising when you see the view, 750 feet above sea level with glorious vistas of surrounding countryside and distant views to the coast. It’s also an area long associated with starlings who have used migration routes across the villages and chattered noisily from telephone wires. Tradition has it that those people born in Four Lanes are known as starlings and it was our great pleasure to catch up with some of this bird life as we embarked on our new project ‘A Flock of Stories’ which aims to collect stories and memories of church and chapel life in Four Lanes and Pencoys.

Archive photos of the Church (L) and the old Chapel (R) at Four Lanes

The village is quite unique in that they still have a thriving Church of England and a Methodist Chapel. However numbers are dwindling and the indomitable Revd Peter Fellowes has tried to ensure the survival of both these institutions by recognising the ministry of two Churches in the one village and combining the congregations and under what is called flapjack. He is very active within the community and has been vital in drawing towards us participants who want to share their stories to our project.

 

So the Storylines team met the Starlings, recording their memories to kick start the project……

 

Jenny and Caroline shared stories of the old Methodist Chapel at Forest where the boiler had to be lit before each service on a Sunday and harvest festival saw the chapel packed to the rafters and decorated with apples, sheaves of corn and hydrangeas tied to the gate posts.

 

Norma as a girl in her Sunday best

Another mother and daughter duo, Norma and Alison, were regular members at St Andrews Church Pencoys and told us about the church bazaars and all the frantic making that went into the event. They also talked about Sundays and what was allowed and not allowed on that day, for instance you could knit but not sew!

 

The band leading the Chapel congregation for the village Tea Treat

In a cosy cottage on the main street of Four Lanes, Jennie and Barrie talked emotionally about being lifelong members of the village Methodist chapel and how it shaped their lives and still provides guidance and a foundation for their everyday actions. We heard about Barrie’s time at Sunday School and the first time he wore long trousers and Jennie showed us chapel mementoes she keeps in a cupboard in her front room.

 

Away from the village in a nursing home in Camborne, we caught up with 94 year old Doreen who told us how she had been attached to St Andrews church all her life and had some amazing memories about scrabbling around on the floor for nuts in the church hall at   Christmas and proudly waiting for prize giving when she would receive her treasured book.

 

Our final memory gathering took place in St Andrews church itself and Karen, Christine, Jean and Jillian shared their stories of being active members of the congregation over the years.

Tea Treats at St.Ives

We heard about long gone celebrations like the Gala which lasted 3 days and brought together all the churches and chapels and the long awaited Tea Treats in the summer to St Ives with its buns and bottles of pop and singing coming home in the coach.

 

After days of listening to often very emotional memories from everyone we interviewed, whether church or chapel, the overriding sense was of loss. The loss of unified communities where everyone was there to support one another and pulled together to create celebrations and events and where faith was the underlying connection. The introduction of Sunday trading and the myriad of choice in everyone’s lives today has fragmented many communities and dwindling congregations are trying desperately to bring cohesion to them. It is our hope that ‘A Flock of Stories’ will reignite interest in the local community, illustrating what happened over the past years and what could conceivably happen again.

 

‘A Flock of Stories’ is kindly funded by the Cornwall Heritage Trust. 
If you’d like to get involved and come to the next session then please do get in touch- the more the merrier!

Boat trip Hallsands

A Trip to Sea- Learning about Landmarks

Posted on: 24th August 2018 No Comments
Jonny sharing his local knowledge

Jonny sharing his local knowledge

We’ve written a lot about landmarks in the past, but never from the perspective of being at sea. So we were excited to join Jonny and Tony recently for a trip along the coast from Hallsands as part of the ‘Guardians of the Reef‘ project. Our aim was to document some of the names of the ‘marks’ that local fishermen have used for hundreds of years to navigate the seabed, which if not documented will soon be lost.

 

Tony on his boat

Tony on his boat

Fishermen have been using these ‘marks’ for generations; looking back towards the land and lining up visible landmarks to locate specific points on the seabed where crabs or fish can be found. This was vital when deciding where to place your pots or strong of pots, and enabled them to retrieve them on another day. Of course this is just one aspect of the knowledge that fishermen needed, they also required an in depth knowledge of the tides, seabed, weather and seasons. This knowledge, along with a compass and a clock (if you were lucky) meant that fishermen got to know the seabed intimately.

 

We had a fantastic time travelling along the beautiful stretch of coastline towards Prawle Point and filmed the lovely Jonny sharing with us some of the many names he had learnt from other local fishermen. Much of this knowledge had come from Winkie Steer, who we later joined in the pub along with Graham Lynn, to learn more about landmarks and how they were used. We have decided to archive the entire recording from the boat trip as it’s all really valuable, and have also made this short film with the Beesands boys-

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The ‘Guardians of the Reef’ Project is delivered in partnership with the South Devon and Channel Shellfishermen Association and is made possible with thanks to funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund. 

The Rhoda Mary Project Film

Posted on: 17th August 2018 1 Comment

In 2016 we were delighted to be asked to collaborate with the Rhoda Mary Project on a new community heritage project which sought to uncover stories about the Rhoda Mary and other Cornish merchant schooners. We have recently made this short film to tell the story of the project so far…

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The Rhoda Mary was a 110 foot merchant schooner designed by William ‘Foreman’ Ferris, built in 1868 at Point, in the Parish of Feock near Falmouth in Cornwall and was renowned for her elegance and speed.

We began the project with a Memory Day in Devoran and people came from all over the South West to share stories, photos and knowledge of the merchant schooners that were once vital to Cornish trade.

We then worked closely with 7 people, conducting oral history interviews to capture stories about the Rhoda Mary and other Cornish Schooners and made a series of digital stories, including one with some of the descendants of William Ferris, the builder of Rhoda Mary and many other vessels.

Responding to stories of Merchant Schooners for the Rhoda Mary Project

Finally we undertook a day long workshop with year 6 pupils at Devoran School. By using these

digital stories and with help from some knowledgeable and enthusiastic volunteers, the children learnt about the Rhoda Mary, built in their parish, and the wider history of the merchant schooners.

 

The Rhoda Mary Project is a charity seeking to promote traditional maritime skills and celebrate the vanishing history of the Cornish Merchant Schooner.

To find out more about the project and how you can support it, please visit www.rhoda-mary.co.uk.

This project is extremely grateful to the Cornwall Heritage Trust for funding and support.

‘Guardians of the Reef’ Digital Stories

Posted on: 13th July 2018 No Comments

It’s always lovely to screen the digital stories we create, gathering people together to share, laugh and celebrate their stories. For the Guardians of the Reef’ project we held a series of screening events at the Cricket Inn in Beesands, who put on a fabulous crab supper for us, and at Hope Cove in the gorgeous little Reading Room and beautiful Chapel. We had some great feedback and are so glad we have been able to help record the heritage of the shellfishing industry so that it is not all lost.

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Most of the digital stories are now on our website here, with a few more soon to go up, and we will soon be making a DVD with all the stories on to give to participants and for the South Devon and Channel Shellfishermen Association to sell into the future. Here’s a couple to whet your appetite…

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Thank you to everyone who contributed their stories, to Beshlie at the South Devon and Channel Shellfishermen Association for being generally fabulous, to the Cricket Inn for being such wonderful hosts and to the Heritage Lottery Fund for funding this project.

Praze Memories shared on CD

Posted on: 6th July 2018 No Comments

During the ‘Linking Lifetimes’ project in 2015-16 we spent a lot of time in Praze delivering a story-sharing project between community members and children from Crowan School. One thing that we hadn’t initially expected to do was capture quite so many local memories. But projects are like that, they take on an energy of their own, and so we found ourselves spending hours sat in peoples kitchens and sitting rooms recording memories of village life in Praze. As always it’s a real privilege to be able to do this and we were fascinated, moved and entertained by the wonderful stories we heard.

We’d always said we’d like to make these accessible to people (over 30 hours of audio doesn’t quite fit this bill!) so we were delighted when Crowan Parish Council helped us find a small pot of funding through the Clowance Trust to make this happen.

So we are very excited to reveal this lovely CD that provides a snapshot into village life in Praze. Crowan Parish Council will be selling these for £4 each during Praze Fair week, so make sure you grab a copy.

We were also able to pull together the hundreds of local photographs that people contributed to the project and make a slideshow that will be available to see at Praze Fair Show 2018. So look out for those hilarious carnival outfits you’d forgotten about and enjoy seeing some faces from the past.

If you’d contributed your memories to the project you should have received a copy of the CD in the post. If you’ve moved recently and haven’t got one let us know so we can get another one to you.

Shellfishing Stories Screenings & Displays

Posted on: 2nd May 2018 No Comments

It’s been fascinating listening to the memories and experiences of shellfishermen from the coastal communities of South Devon and Dorset as part of the Guardians of the Reef’ project. Working alongside the South Devon and Channel Shellfishermen Association we have now recorded hours and hours of audio and collected thousands of amazing archive photographs. This in itself has huge value, documenting some of the phenomenal changes this industry has undergone within living memory.

 

Although all of this will be archived, it’s really important to us to bring people together to celebrate and share some of these stories, so we have transformed some of the material collected into a series of digital stories and displays that provide a fascinating glimpse into life in coastal communities and the ever evolving industry of shellfishing.

 

A selection of digital stories will be screened at The Cricket Inn in Beesands on the evening of the 16th May 2018 (limited places so booking required. They will also be played on a loop from the 18th – 20th May 11am-3pm in Hope Cove at the Reading Room and Chapel where people can drop in anytime. All of these events are free with thanks to a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the support of local communities and refreshments will be available.

A further collection of stories gathered throughout the project is currently on display at Salcombe Maritime Museum (read more here), which runs until the 31st October 2018 and is open every day between 10.30am-12.30pm and 2.30-4.30pm. The exhibition combines archive photographs, with text and artworks to illustrate snippets of the stories collected during the project in a colourful interactive display that hangs from the ceiling.


Fishermen would often transport their crabs in wooden tea chests, giving the project inspiration for another display consisting of a series of old tea chests covered in photographs, text and artworks that share some of the stories collected. These will be on display at the screening events and will also tour Crabfest in Salcombe and Paignton Harbour Fest in the Spring and Summer of 2018.

 

These events are a fitting celebration for the Shellfishermen’s association, which celebrates its 50th Anniversary this year. Beshlie Pool, SD&CS Executive Officer said, “the Stories are a fascinating trip through time, teaching us how fishing has changed within living memory from individual families catching crab for the table to the vibrant global shellfishing business that exists today. The innovation and perseverance of the fishermen and their families who have shared their stories with us is really something we are proud of and want to share.”

 

The oral history interviews conducted as part of the project will later be archived in their entirety at the Devon County Archives, Devon Rural Archives, Salcombe Museum and the Kingsbridge Cookworthy Museum providing a valuable record of the industry for generations to come.

If you want to find out more about the project or get involved then please contact Storylines on hello@storylines.org.uk.

Tracing Global Storylines

Posted on: 3rd April 2018 No Comments

After our successful collaboration last year with the National Maritime Museum Cornwall (NMMC) capturing the stories behind people’s tattoos for Tattoo Tales, we were delighted when the museum asked us to work on their new temporary exhibition, Titanic Stories: Contemporary Voices.

The NMMC commissioned us to find 5 people who had moved from overseas and now live in Cornwall and to work closely with them to record their experiences and to share these through a series of digital stories, portraits and objects.

Over the months spent on this project, it’s fair to say that we have been on our own journey which we thought we’d share with you here.

 

lookingoutWe started the project as we always do, by sitting down together to think around the subject and write some questions we would like to later ask people in a recorded conversation. The questions just kept coming and the more we thought about it, the more apparent it was that people’s stories of migrating were woven in tightly with their life story, their emotions and who they are today. There were so many ways of approaching this… psychologically, physically and spiritually. Uprooting yourself from one place, whether this is forced or by choice and starting a new life, in a new place, is a HUGE journey to make. Migration is such a vast and sensitive theme, so it was extremely important to us that people who contributed felt respected and enjoyed their time working with us.

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If you have been embedded in a place for life, you’re unlikely to think about the experience of uprooting and moving to a place where you don’t know the culture, the boundaries, the language and the people. By spending time asking people about their experiences we were able to gain a better understanding of the intricacies of migrating. It is not just physical movement from place to place, it’s the whole event that envelops you as a person. It’s the question of where and what ‘home’ is, of what it means to belong, of what you leave behind and how you manifest your own culture in a new place. photosIt was this emotional side of migration that was so interesting and moving, and something we really wanted to share through the digital stories. We wanted to open people’s eyes to the human side of migration.

 

Through long conversations we recorded so much meaningful material that it became a real struggle to reduce these to the 3-minute long digital stories that we had been asked to produce. We simply couldn’t do it. So the final edits have each been squeezed to around 6 minutes, providing small glimpses into very different stories of migration.

We hope that people who watch these stories in the exhibition will come away questioning what it means to be a migrant and empathising with those who have made such a journey. We were able to witness this happening during a workshop we delivered at the NMMC, which brought together the people we had worked with and a lovely group of Cornish men and women, most of whom had never moved more than a few miles.

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The Cornish contingent were bowled over by what people had been through, expressing a sense of wonder, admiration and empathy. The idea of belonging and of what home is, kept resurfacing and it was so lovely to see people connecting through the common language of story. After all, this is at the heart of our work.

We feel like we have just scratched the surface of this enormous topic and as people who know us well, know, we don’t like to leave stones unturned! So we are now looking into how we can explore the theme of belonging and migration further. If you are interested in talking with us about this or have a story to share, then we’d love to hear from you by phone or email.

Finally we want to express our sincere thanks to everybody we have been lucky enough to work with. You are all amazing.

For more on the project visit here.