Thursday, 26 January 2012

Making history books

Obviously, I need no persuading on the value of local history; but I do love new ways of exploring it. One of the most creative is artist Amy Lord's The Takeaway Shop. In an hour-long session, participants make their own book before filling it with images and text about Deptford's history. 

The mixture of craft and historical discovery is irresistible. Lord has put together a wonderful selection of materials, from maps to images of buildings to photographs of events. That allows everyone to choose their own approach and create a unique personal archive to take away. It's also an opportunity to chat to other local people and share knowledge of Deptford's past. 

Along with the cutting, gluing and creating, I loved exploring new documents. Among my favourites was an advertisement from a job applicant in 1840. I've explored similar approaches to job-hunting by other Deptfordians, but this appeal for the job of gravedigger was new to me. The applicant didn't emphasise relevant skills (as an unemployed sugar-mould potter he presumably had none) but rather his personal misfortune: he and his eight children were left dependant upon his wife. His unemployment, he was careful to explain, was because wrought-iron moulds had rendered him redundant. What a wonderful combination of industrial, social and local history: a perfect illustration of the value of The Takeaway Shop. 

There's only one day of this event left, but if you want to book a last-minute place for Friday then click here. Transpontine has also visited.


SilverTiger said...

There seems to have been a surge in interest in local history lately, as witness the existence of many local history associations and active local history sections in public libraries. Ours, for example, has a fully fledged local history museum with a programme of exhibitions.

It is amazing, though, how ignorant people often are about their locatlity. When we are out photographing buildings and all the other wonderful historic remains that abound in most cities, there is almost always a passer-by who stops and says "I've lived here all my life but, d'you know, I never noticed that until I saw you photographing it."

HughB said...

This chap writes exceedingly well for a potter - is it possible the notice was drafted for him?

CarolineLD said...

I suspect it was - perhaps even by the printer?