Coquet Voices Local Heritage Project Dr Thomlinson CofE Middle School Sept. 2012 - March 2015

Creative local heritage project, working with young people from rural Northumberland.

The project was developed by a group of Y8 & Y7 students, who decided there was a need to learn about their local heritage, and in particular, local dialect. After developing a detailed project plan we were successful in obtaining funding from Heritage Lottery Fund and Northumberland National Park. I then co-ordinated the programme and also delivered  some projects: either as lead artist ( photography and dialect poetry) or as support artist (animation, Oral History & Sound Recording, Rothbury Heritage trail).

21 projects occurred over the 2 year programme and the whole school enjoyed 2 heritage weeks.  Projects included: photography and dialect poetry; video drama, with dialect dialogue, exploring the storys and myths of the Coquet Valley ; Board Game exploring archeology and the myths that sprang from changes in settlement of the area; Shadow Puppet Theatre about the story of the Laird of Clennel and Wul Faa; music and dialect song composition; radio drama; Rothbury Heritage Trail for young people, Story telling and making, Oral History & sound recording; animations exploring local dialect.

Photography & Dialect Poetry
After school project: mixed age group. WIth support from local dialect expert and poet, James Tait.

The group came from mixed year groups: the youngest being 9. Most of the  group had never used a camera before and knew little about photography. We explored documentary photography, particularly that which documented rural life, inlcuding the work of Dorothea Lange,  and also looked at the work of J.P Collier. This enabled the young people to develop their understanding of visual aspects of photography, how to read photographs, how to tell stories through photographs and to develop their knowledge of their rural heritage. The group was then involved in a number of fun exercises, which enabled them to gain confidence in using digital "bridge" cameras: exploring framing & composition, use of depth of field and shutter speed. 35mm cameras were utilised to provide an understanding of shutter speed and aperture.

 A poetry workshop occurred using an archive photograph and it's back-story as inspiration. The group then completed some research & decided the content of the next sessions before starting their own projects. These included: documentary projects recording farming life; wildlife photography; changes to rural settlements or historical buildings informed by archive photographs. We then looked at editing & cropping and each participant decided how to display their work.

Once the photographs were complete the group then wrote dialect poems & verse inspired by their photographs. The work was exhibited in school, and also in Rothbury on 3 occasions.
 

A few examples of work created by the group

Rothbury Heritage Trail July 2015. Class of Year 7 students.

Photography, text, graphic design. Dr. Thomlinson Middle school.  Support artist working with David Walmersley.


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The young people visited Rothbury town centre, identifying and photographing places that were of particular historic significance. Working in groups the class decided upon places that were of interest to them and that they would like to further research. Speech bubbles were made that explained they found appealing or interesting about their chosen heritage sites.  Each group then revisited their  sites, photographing themselves with their speech bubbles. The class then designed and produced a series of large-scale maps upon which they placed their photographs along with informational text, drawings and photographs, culminating in the production of 4 large scale heritage trails. The young people's heritage trails were then reworked & combined to produce a printed map/leaflet for the local tourist information office.

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