‘Growing Memories’ with Boundary Way Allotments and Community Garden


Howard Berry and Holly Pleydell with the Living Memory pop up exhibition.

‘Growing Memories’ with Boundary Way Allotments and Community Garden

On Sunday we teamed up with Boundary Way Allotments and Community Garden to participate in a day of sharing and creative activities around the theme of ‘Growing Memories’. 


The Boundary Way garden and allotments sit on edge of the Warstones estate in south-west Wolverhampton and has beautiful views across the rolling Staffordshire countryside and towards the hills of Shropshire. It’s a unique site where community members, plot-holders, artists and many others often come together to share in activities and spend time together.

The Boundary Way Allotment and Community Garden, with the Camera Obscura in the foreground (blue shed).
Geoff Broadway talking about the Living Memory project.
Moya Lloyd talking about the Boundary Way project

The day was part of their ‘Sharing Nature Open day’ to mark International Earth day and to share our investigations into the history and heritage of our site, supported with funding from HLF.

We took the opportunity to present our first Living Memory ‘pop up’ exhibition at the Growing Memories event, making use of the fabulous multi-purpose poly tunnel. We spoke about the project and shared some of the many 100’s of images we have gathered, telling some of the rich stories behind them. 

Howard Berry's family collection.
Moya Lloyd and Clare Wasserman look through a photography collection lent to the Living Memory project.

Wherever we go we find people who are fascinated by the project, and there is always someone who wants to share their own photographs and stories.  Several people had brought along their photographs to share and we spend time recording their stories and scanning their images.

James Williams building a strong room for the Shah of Iran at the Chubb Lockworks
Plot holder Howard Berry talks about his own family collection.
Maria Billington's mum Katherine and her uncle Stephen in the garden taken in the late 1940s.

Clare Wassermann has some wonderful photos of her grandfather James Williams - you can read about him in our snapshot section. Maria Billington also shared a series of her own key images from her life and the journey she made from growing up in Manchester to living and thriving in Wolverhampton where she runs the Gatis Community Space. We will be publishing her story soon on the website.  Howard Berry also brought in his own family collection and will be working with him very soon on his fascinating story. 

Many thanks to Boundary Way for inviting us to come along as part of the Growing Memories Day.

Want to join us and help us talk about the project and gather people stories? We still have a range of volunteering opportunities open on the Living Memory project.

Richard, one of the plot-holders at Boundary Way. (photo Geoff Broadway)

Where to start? And then what?


Where to start? And then what?

How to tell the story of a photograph collection? Where to start?

A guest post by Mandy Ross

As a writer, I love meeting people with stories to tell (which I do believe includes just about everyone). So it was a treat to meet a bunch of keen and thoughtful people and their photo collections at a Living Memory writing workshop at Tipton Library in April. 
And what a treat to share some of the stories in their photos. We glimpsed family history touching on world events, pupils invited to sing at their teacher's wedding, and photobooth fun in Smethwick, immortalising a diverse group of young friends.

Moya Lloyd's family slide collection
Part of Vee's friendship album.
A selection negatives ready for scanning

So how to start writing the stories?
Each person picked a single photograph from their collection, and started writing the story it showed - including some of the sounds, secrets and unseen mysteries the photo might hint at.

Then we set off on a bit of time-travel. Choosing an earlier photo in the collection, we stepped back in time, writing a flashback. What was different back then? How had things unfolded? What changed in between?

And then we stepped back into the future, choosing a photo from a much later date, and zipping through time to see - and write - how the story had moved on.
Would this approach work for your collection? We look forward to reading and sharing the stories that emerge.

The session ended with another batch of questions to think about:
Why do we collect photos? How do we choose what to keep?

What does the collection tell us about the collector?
And how is technology changing the process?

Answers welcome!
Mandy Ross

Seven Little Words at St Michaels CE High School


Blue and White Creative are currently working with St Michaels CE High School in Rowley Regis. The Student Voice Group and members of the local community and the LINKS project are working together create a series of unique artworks inspired by seven photos selected from their family albums.

Each participant was asked to bring in seven photographs that are important to them in some way. They then shared the stories behind each image through intergenerational conversations. The group then developed one story and one photograph each to base their final artwork on.

Developing the theme of ‘seven’ further, participants are now in the process of creating bold typographical collages that tell their story in just 'seven little words'. These will then be juxtaposed with their photograph.

In the next few weeks the group will be discovering the relationship between photography and the written word. They will explore how using both together can add meaning and impact to a story – to become poignant, intriguing or just funny.

It is hoped that the culmination of all this hard work will be presented at the upcoming Living Memory exhibition at Haden Hill House in Cradley Heath.

Food for Thought at Impact Hub


Each week, the folks at Impact Hub Birmingham host Food for Thought, aimed at feeding bellies and minds during the mid afternoon slump.  We went along with a collection of Living Memory prints to speak about the project so far and invite reflections on some of the images.

We received a warm welcome (as well as a cuppa and cake) and spoke about the aims of Living Memory, as well as talking about some specific collections, including photos of Bill Mansell and his travels overland to Australia, which have just been added to our website along with an account of his life by his niece.

It is clear that the project has real resonance, both for people with connections to the Black Country, and for people with a more general interest in photography and life stories.  We spoke about some of the stereotypes around the Black Country, and how this project redresses the balance by allowing the public to share aspects of their lives, histories and experiences.  We also identified how common themes emerge, that we can all relate to, really highlighting how we have 'more in common than that which divides us'.  We also spoke more generally about our own photo collections and the need to preserve photos as artefacts in a digital age.

We hope to return next year to update folks on the progress with the project.  We will next be presenting the Living Memory project at the Central Library, West Bromwich on Tuesday 24th April at 10:30am.  Come along to look at some of the collection and find out how you can get involved.

Get the latest updates

Living Memory