Dudley Dialogue – developing my project

As I settled into my research, I spent more and more time at Gather, a social enterprise in the centre of Dudley. I began meeting, listening and opening up conversations with the Gather community. I also got involved with their weekly craft group which provides an opportunity to craft with company and share skills.  During these meetups, the community was open and generous with their time and knowledge. I learnt new skills in tatting, a technique where lace is constructed through a series of knots and loops and a craft I am now keen to incorporate within my own practice. I listened to familial stories as well as debates and themes that matter to the communities who live and work in and around Dudley.

As part of my time at Gather, I facilitated workshops for participants to turn their photographs and associated memories into Jewellery. I introduced participants to working with metal and resistant materials using traditional techniques and processes used in the jewellery and silversmithing industry. Together we made embossed copper brooches as well as stamping and forming bangles and bookmarks.

Jayne Clarke and her brooches with family montage
Bethan Clarke holding her brooch made with an image of her nephew
Wendy Viner, with a brooch made from a photo of her mother and herself outside her childhood home.
Kim Knowles embossing copper
Elle Knowles stamping a bangle
Ann Jankowska forming a bangle

As my residency at Gather unfolded, my ideas developed to follow a more organic process.  I began visiting the areas and landmarks that arose during my conversations in Gather. Out and about on foot, I was able to adopt a more curious approach, taking the time to slow down, stopping to draw and photograph the local surroundings. Ghost signs, Victorian tiled doorways and embellished masonry all become visible. I took these images back into the workshops at Gather, which opened new dialogues about reimagining the familiar - linked to memory and the shared and lived experience of a space.

Stone Street Square, Dudley
Stone Street Square, Dudley
Red exterior wall tiles, Grade II listed former Crown pub, Priory St
Red exterior wall tiles, Grade II listed former Crown pub, Priory St
The old Post Office
The old Post Office
Doorway on Wolverhampton Street
Doorway on Wolverhampton Street
Top Church, High St
Top Church, High St

My interest in the Living Memory Project was triggered by the historic relationship that photography has with jewellery. Photographic miniatures incorporated in personal adornment are most commonly associated with nineteenth-century sentimental jewellery.  Now, within a digital world, the place of the family photograph album has changed. Advances in technology have transferred a singular miniature photographic portrait of a loved one carried in a locket to albums with thousands of images, all accessible and shareable through our mobile devices.

As I move forward from the Living Memory project, it has had a lasting impact on how I examine, digest and reframe the changing narratives of my family album.

Work in Progress, found photos sources from charity shops in Dudley and on Ebay.

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Living Memory