The Last Post

‘Last and final’ tends to put pressure on things to be polished and coherent.  Unfortunately, I don’t think that I can promise that – this is, however, my last blog post.  A small yet significant moment in my last bit week working for the Herbert – as after two and a half years I will be moving on to pastures new.

What a two and a half years it has been! From my first day when I arrived flustered and half and hour late because the train was delayed.  Thankfully this was not held against me and I have been able to work on some fascinating and challenging projects.

One of my very first projects was to work on a project to create a Chinese community film for the British Museum. This was great fun and posed some unique puzzles.  It was great to meet the young people – I had a group of 7 to 17 year olds to work with.  We taught them about oral history and how to do interviews then they interviewed the elders on camera.  Finally, they did some paper cut animation about the stories they had heard. The quirky humour really brightened things up. All this material was edited down to make a film which was shown as part China – Journey to the East, a British Museum touring exhibition.  It was a really special moment to see the film being shown next to priceless objects from ancient China and to see the looks on the young people’s faces when they saw the finished film.

Other treasured memories come from the work that I did with Coventry Deaf Sport and Social Club in documenting the experiences of Deaf people in the Coventry area.  When I was younger I was fascinated by See Hear and had the chance to do a sign language course at University.  When I interviewed for the job at the Herbert and I found out that I could be doing a project to document Deaf people’s experience of work – crossed my fingers in anticipation.  It was a great opportunity to dust off my old sign language skills – although it is amazing what you forget in 10 odd years.  We interviewed and filmed people talking about their experiences.  It was a real insight into the barriers faced by Deaf people, their resourcefulness in overcoming those barriers and how attitudes to Deafness and disability have changed over the last 30 years. You can view the film on YouTube.

Another project which brings a smile to my face whenever I remember it was making the wildlife film Braving the Elements.  Erroneously titled as we managed to film on the one week of good weather that year and it was glorious with sunshine.  Working with David Costello of Norton House (a service for adults who are homeless or vulnerably housed) we took a group of people to Whitacre Heath nature reserve.  It still makes smile when I remember the group interviewing a slightly bewildered but very obliging bird watcher, the animated discussions over whose turn it was to carry the packed lunches and the squeals when a frog jumped out of a hedgerow – poor frog.  The resulting footage was turned into a film which was shown in the Elements gallery and later on lead to an award for one of the participants.

This is but a few of my happy memories of some of the more unusual projects I have worked on.  I have been very fortunate to work with some absolutely brilliant people as participants, partners and colleagues.  I shall be very sad to leave but pleased to have had the experience.  Wishing all Herbert’s staff, friends and users all the best for the future.

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Posted on 10/01/2011, in Communities, Social Inclusion and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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