Project Updates · The Locals

the locals: object_ive

As we approach October and Black History Month, we have once again refocused The Locals with the aim of creating a rapid response style collection display. This iteration of the project asks the African and Caribbean communities living or working in the borough, to answer the following question: ‘What one possession or item in your family represents something meaningful or important to you about your cultural heritage?‘ Participants are asked to respond by sending two photographs, one of them and one of their chosen object, plus a few words explaining the significance. The aim is to create an immediate display of submissions, physically and digitally, which will evolve over the month and which will result (hopefully) in a dynamic and informative exhibition by the end of October.

Interested to find out more? Send us an email or download the information sheet below.

Email:       Download information: The Locals: object-ive

A reflection on The Locals project so far…

As part of our Saving and Sharing Whitehall project, in late 2018 and throughout 2019 we launched The Locals oral history project. The aim of The Locals was to collect stories from individuals that captured the changes that have taken place in Sutton over the last century. We hoped that by recording these personal views from varying individuals in the community, we would be able to compile an understanding of how life in the borough had changed in more recent years, and how this has affected the experiences of residents and those who work in the borough.

We were delighted to exceeded the number of recordings we had originally hoped to collect, and found that the unique material gathered soon started to influence our programming activity. Many of the interviews reminisced about earlier times in the borough, which provided a great opportunity to link these memories with items in our collection from the twentieth century, as well as photographs from our local studies and archive collections. Small displays were held at our Family History Centre at Sutton Central Library, and at Whitehall itself.

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Excerpts from entries for ‘The Locals: Diaries’ will be on display at Whitehall Historic House until November. Visitors to the exhibition are invited to contribute to the project and the display by completing these archive submission cards.

An even greater achievement of this element of the Whitehall project though, has been the significant influence it has had in helping us to focus on diversifying our collections in general. The framework The Locals has provided is proving an adaptable and useful tool. Its first reiteration, following the initial oral history element, was The Locals: Diaries, which we launched soon after the lockdown. Refocused as a rapid response contemporary archive collecting project, The Locals: Diaries called out for participants to document their experiences of the lockdown and the Covid situation in general (further information can be found in this earlier post.) Again we have been thrilled by the response, receiving to date more than 100 entries in varying formats and from a broad range of ages. Call out for The Locals: Diaries ends on the 4 October 2020, an update on this can be seen in our last post.

The Locals: object-ive is now the third iteration of the original project and, like The Locals: Diaries, again provides an opportunity for us to react quickly and to focus more sharply on a particular topic. This is a new way of working for us, which, given the indication that restrictions may tighten again, is challenging but also exciting and hopefully fruitful and informative.

Our next post will take a closer look at Lucinda Rice, daughter of Dr George Rice who was previously featured in our Black History Month post in 2018. Whilst researching Lucinda further, we’ve been wondering; if Lucinda were alive today, what object might she choose if she were posed with the question for The Locals: object-ive



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