Taking part in the Durham Creatives and Durham Light Infantry Always Remember, Never Forget WW1 exhibition at the DLI Museum & Gallery has been both an amazing & a sobering experience. The idea for my exhibit came after I was inspired by handling artefacts from the DLI WW1 exhibition.
I chose 2 artefacts, a Sweetheart Pincushion & a German Pickelhaube helmet and wrote their imagined story, as told in the first person. I wanted to literally give the objects a voice and so set out to record their story for people to listen to during the exhibition.
For the Sweetheart pincushion, I felt that I needed a feminine voice and asked voiceover artist Helen J Aitken to read the poem I had written and Roland Koerner, from Germany, gave the Pickelhaube a most authentic voice.
The day before the opening of the exhibition, I went into the DLI Gallery to get my exhibit ready and on arrival was instantly moved to see the exhibits from the other 13 creative practitioners taking part in Always Remember, Never Forget.
At long last, after months of planning & discussion I was able to see everybody’s creative work with diverse interpretations of WW1 in jewellery, ceramics, painting, textiles, written work, film, graphic design, photography & my own audio recording.
First task for me was to polish the glass of the case where the Sweetheart Pincushion & the Pickelhaube was to be displayed, then to arrange the Sweetheart Pincushion & Pickelhaube in the case and finally the technicians mounted the i-pod shuffle containing my recording in a perspex bracket with headphones next to the artefacts together with some explanatory text on the wall.
In addition, a selection of writing from the Stories from Souvenirs creative writing workshops that I ran at the DLI leading upto the exhibition were also on display in a file for visitors to read.
At the Preview Evening there was a great buzz with some of the participants from my workshops reading out their prose & poetry inspired by handling objects from the DLI WW1 collection as the corresponding objects were displayed on a podium next to them. These included a bugle, a bayonet, a rifle, another story about the Sweetheart Pincushion and even the most mundane of objects, a grey blanket, inspired a wonderful story.
I also took the opportunity to wander about with my portable recorder and get some reactions from the sponsors, creatives and of course the visitors.
The WW1 exhibition Always Remember, Never Forget runs at the Durham Light Infantry Museum & Gallery 7th to 22nd June 2014 from 10.30am to 4pm (closed Monday & Tuesdays)
A podcast is available with recordings from the exhibit plus a selection of work recorded by various writers from the creative writing workshops.