Through the RoI Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Siege Museum was 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 wished to explore the potential to provide opportunities for visitors to learn about Protestant and Unionist perspectives on the Troubles within the city. quarto were 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. The resulting report will be used as the basis for attracting investment and developing a detailed interpretive plan and community engagement programme.
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 was one of three initiatives underway that will reveal the stories contained in the collection. quarto were 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 worked together collaboratively as artists to produce Holding Together, an exhibition at the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland launched in December 2019.
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.
We invited people to bring something of their own to the launch – a photograph or letter or other small item – that conjured up something about their past. During the event, Gemma and Bryonie facilitated a conversation about what these items mean and why. Labelled photographs of each item were added to the exhibition after the launch
quarto were commissioned by Bangor Shared Space to deliver learning workshops and resources about Victorian Bangor at Bangor Central Integrated Primary School. The workshops and resources drew on a private family archive, enriching Year 7’s topic work on the Victorian era with exploration of Victorian economy, social structure, technology and leisure at a local level and through local people. The project was supported by Heritage Lottery Fund and Bangor Shared Space. The learning resources developed through the project are still in use, as part of an annual local history project led by the participating teachers.
quarto have been commissioned by Ards and North Down Borough Local Action Group and Inishowen Development Partnership to research and document the history of two coastal defence heritage sites, Fort Dunree and Grey Point Fort, and to identify thematic connections between the two sites. The project will draw from best-practice in heritage tourism to make interpretive development recommendations that will enhance visitor experiences. It is supported by the Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme Co-operation Scheme.
Gemma collaborated with Big Telly Theatre Company to promote the unique industrial heritage of the Antrim coast through a series of immersive theatre experiences. The performances were one element of a project developed by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council Museum Service as part of the European Year of Cultural Heritage. Gemma developed a body of research on four specific industrial heritage sites and worked with the collaborative team to develop engaging and informative storylines. She also supported the delivery of a cross-sectoral seminar sharing the learning from the project and identifying ways in which it could be developed in other areas.
quarto worked in partnership with Mark Lusby of the Friends of Derry Walls to support the Siege Museum in delivering a six-month learning and participation programme supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund. We delivered an engaging living history programme with local secondary schools ; a community archaeology programme with Queen’s University Belfast; a Siege Heritage Trail; as well as a well-attended events and talks programme. We also supported the museum directors and staff to develop their skills as they plan strategically for future development, most notably through reconfiguring the ground floor gallery space and seeking Museum Accreditation status.
Lore of the Land was a cross-community programme engaging with older residents of the Causeway Coast & Glens area. The project sought to stimulate reminiscence and discussion of local folklore, including participant’s personal stories, in order to explore and share the cultural heritage of Causeway communities. The project was part of the PEACE IV Understanding Our Area: People and Places programme, funded by the Special EU Programmes Body and delivered by Causeway Coast & Glens Borough Council’s Museum Services. quarto contributed a body of folklore research to the project and also facilitated a series of storytelling workshops with local community groups.
quarto worked with a significant family archive to accession and catalogue a proportion of it and produce a publication on its creator and our ancestor, Joshua Valentine Eves. The family hope to develop this work further, producing more publications as well as learning resources for local schools, using photographs, documents, maps and other material from the archive to tell a story about class, religious practices, Bangor and the linen industry in the north of Ireland.
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.
The industrial heritage of the Mid & East Antrim Borough Council area is rich and diverse, but not well known. The Local Action Group wished to examine and pilot best practice in Industrial Heritage Tourism in order to stabilise and conserve heritage assets and maximise their potential cultural and economic benefit. quarto were appointed to carry out an audit of industrial heritage assets, consult with local stakeholders, identify best practice, and recommend two suitable development projects.
Portglenone Enterprise Group received Heritage Lottery funding to support the restoration and reuse of the old Northern Bank in the village, replicated in the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum. quarto was commissioned to make interpretive and fit out recommendations, to reflect the past, present and future uses of the bank as a hub for community life.
Lough Neagh Partnership aims to address the heritage needs of the Lough and its shoreline on a holistic integrated landscape basis. As part of the Lough Neagh Landscape Partnership’s cultural education programmes, quarto was commissioned to develop and deliver a Reminiscence Programme, collecting and recording stories and recollections about fishing, boats, industry, World War II and folklore & traditions from Lough Neagh. The programme recorded stories and experiences relating to the shared cultural heritage and history of Lough Neagh, increasing understanding of the cultural and social relationships around the Lough and developing a resource that will contribute to a greater understanding of local heritage.
In partnership with Ulidia Heritage, quarto carried out a condition and access audit of defence heritage features within the Binevenagh area and made project proposals to increase public access, education and engagement with that heritage. Our proposals have contributed towards a development application to the Heritage Lottery Fund by Causeway Coast and Glens Heritage Trust to establish a new Binevenagh and Coastal Lowlands Landscape Partnership.
On the Brink: The Politics of Conflict 1914-1916 was a three-year project delivered in partnership by Mid-Antrim and Causeway Museums Services. It explored the history and legacy of war and revolution between 1914 and 1916 through exhibitions, events, learning activities and volunteer training. quarto was involved in a number of aspects of the project; we produced a body of research on memorials and other relevant sites of remembrance, designed and delivered a programme of learning workshops for secondary schools and adult community groups, and supported the delivery of the volunteer programme.
Supported by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council developed three year project to increase access to the Sam Henry Collection held by Coleraine Museum.
Sam Henry: Connecting with the Past, Collecting for the Future will reveal previously undocumented aspects of the collection and inspire local communities to create new collections of cultural identity. quarto was contracted to deliver the first and second phases of the community engagement programme, encouraging local community groups to engage with Sam Henry as a person, collector, antiquarian, folklorist, writer and musician, and supporting them to curate and deliver a public events programme.
“The Sam Henry Collection is a great underutilised treasure trove of songs, stories, books and photographs. It represents one of the most significant undocumented literary and cultural archives in Northern Ireland today.” Dr Frank Ferguson, Senior Lecturer , Arts & Humanities Research Institute, Ulster University 2016
Green Shoot Productions worked alongside local communities across Belfast to research and interpret the previously untold story of the Outdoor Relief Workers’ Strike in Belfast, 1932. The project delivered a successful programme of workshops, talks and dramatisations. quarto produced an online learning resource and exhibition exploring the history and impact of the event and supporting engagement with the forthcoming theatre production.
Sperrins Townlands Project aimed to document and engage people with the history and heritage of townlands across the Sperrins Gateway Landscape Partnership area. quarto were commissioned to carry out research into local place names, conduct oral history interviews, and design and deliver a programme of community engagement workshops. The research will be developed into local publications and contribute to community archives in local libraries and online.
A Corrymeela Community Project supported by the Republic of Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs. Running through 2015, it aims to engage civic society with the question of what a ‘shared future’ means on the island of Ireland. quarto has been commissioned to make a visual record of each 20/20 Visions workshop, with the resulting artwork to be exhibited at the end of the project.
An Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded project led by Ulster University (with the former Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure, the Community Relations Council, PSNI and The Junction in Derry), it aimed to profile non-violent and transformative commemorative practice in local communities and to create spaces for dialogue, exchange and advocacy with public bodies. quarto was commissioned to design, facilitate and evaluate the outcomes of community dialogues during the residential programme and to curate an exhibition exploring some of those outcomes.
In 2014 we delivered our second project for the Causeway Coast and Glens Heritage Trust exploring the cultural heritage of place names. quarto were commissioned to research place names within the Causeway AONB through archives, GIS mapping and interviews with local landowners. We interpreted the information collected to produce a touring exhibition and an educational resource designed for local primary schools.
In 2014 we were commissioned to work on the 1613 And All That! project, led by Focus on Family, Ballysally, Coleraine in March 2014. We supported local community members in researching and writing the history of plantation in Coleraine and its legacy for today’s communities. To conclude the project we designed and facilitated a mapping workshop for local participants.
In September 2013 quarto designed and facilitated a creative mapping workshop with participants at the Heritage Practice in Contested Spaces seminar. The event was delivered by the Causeway Museum Service with MINOM, an affiliate of UNESCO International Council of Museums, and supported by the Community Relations Council and the North East Peace III Partnership.
Between 2012 and 2014 we worked on this HLF-funded project for the RNIB, researching and writing a publication (in text, Braille and audio formats), carrying out oral history interviews and producing an accessible exhibition.
In 2013 we were commissioned by the Heart of the Glens Landscape Partnership to carry out field survey and create a GIS database of industrial heritage in the Glens of Antrim. We also consulted with public, community and voluntary organisations in the area to develop a range of project proposals increasing access and engagement with industrial heritage, including details on potential partnerships and funding sources. Our report informed project planning for a successful Stage 2 Heritage Lottery Fund Landscape Partnership Scheme application.
In 2013 we were commissioned by the Northern Ireland Museums Council to research and collate information required for a successful Stage 2 Heritage Lottery Fund Skills for the Future application. In consultation with local museums, the Development Plan produced a framework for the delivery of the project, providing information on the aims and anticipated outcomes of the programme, an outline training plan and supplementary information on the roles, responsibilities and recruitment of project staff, participants and trainers.
In 2012 and 2013 we researched townland and field names in the Binevenagh AONB for Causeway Coast and Glens Heritage Trust, through archives and fieldwork. The research was developed into a touring exhibition and worksheets for use in schools.
In 2012 and 2013 we carried out a series of oral history interviews for the Belfast Hills Partnership with people living in north and west Belfast on life in the hills. Excerpts from these interviews are available to listen to here http://belfasthills.org/history-culture/oral-histories/.