Through the RoI Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Siege Museum has been offered an exciting opportunity to assess its current visitor interpretation and develop its offer in innovative new ways. In relation to existing tourism and cross-community provision in Londonderry, and anticipated new developments in these areas, the museum wishes to explore the potential to provide opportunities for visitors to learn about Protestant and Unionist perspectives on the Troubles within the city. quarto have been commissioned to carry out a thorough analysis of this potential, to provide guidance on collecting and interpreting the contested heritage of the Troubles, and make recommendations to enable the museum to maximise opportunities to reach new audiences.
Causeway Coast & Glens Borough Council Museums Services were introduced to a private collection relating to the two major dance hall venues in Portrush and Limavady. This project is one of three initiatives underway that will reveal the stories contained in the collection. quarto have been contracted to design and deliver a community engagement programme around dance halls within the council area. Dancehalls are fast disappearing, if not already demolished or transformed into new uses, but they used to be right at the heart of rural community life. Living memory gives us an insight into their social role from the Second World War through to the Troubles, as an experience that was often shared across traditional community boundaries. The project is part of the Peace IV programme, Understanding Our Area – People and Places, which will increase understanding and expression of our culture and history through museum collections, historic sites and cultural heritage.
For the first time, Bryonie and Gemma have worked together collaboratively as artists to produce Holding Together, an exhibition at the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland to be launched in December.
We discovered a wealth of papers, photographs and objects in a private family archive shedding light on lived experiences of 19th– and 20th-century Ireland. Stories pieced together from the archive touch on plantation; the family’s north-south connections and migration; its Quaker faith and later move into the Exclusive Brethren church; and the flax spinning industry in Belfast.
In Holding Together the archive is used to reflect on the fragmented and incomplete nature of memory. As each moment passes, its thoughts, feelings, words, sights and smells enter into a process of forgetting.
Throughout our lifetimes we gather necessarily shifting senses of self from this simultaneously decaying and growing mass. An archive externalises that process. It is composed of materials that have lasted through time and can be handled, looked at, sniffed and read, but it tells no more complete a story of its subjects than our memories do of us. The scraps it preserves, though, we hold on to and work to understand and put together, because the past helps to shape the present.
Fabrics, paper and photographic images from the archive are used in the artwork to gesture at fractured stories handed down from a family’s past and think about what they mean in the present and how and why we pass them on.
The exhibition will be launched at PRONI on 4 December 2019 at 12.00 pm and will be on display 31 January 2020.
We invite you to bring something of your own to the launch – a photograph or letter or other small item – that conjures up something about your past. During the event, Gemma and Bryonie will be part of a conversation about what these items mean and why.
Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership works with artists on children’s education. Long-term project Virtually There places artists in schools via the interactive whiteboard. Year by year, artists work closely with teachers to take children through a programme of art practice from their studios. This year, 10 schools across Northern Ireland are working with 10 artists from North and South and further afield. Recently, Kids’ Own received a ‘More and Better’ grant through the Paul Hamlyn Foundation to carry out action research into Virtually There, and quarto are undertaking this research.