Justin Wiggan, newly-appointed Artist in Residence at Margaret Street, visited the Archives for the first time last Tuesday as part of his research for Hidden Spaces, a sound-based work that will explore the impact of the First World War on creative education. He enthused about the thrill of handling the School of Art’s original minute book for 1909-16, its smell, its leather bindings and the elegance of the handwriting, but found three entries for 1914 particularly striking:
G J Jackman, curator of the School of Art museum, left Margaret Street in 1914 to attend to the sick as Wardmaster at Royal Navy Hospital Chatham. Was there, Justin wondered, a psychological link between the skills required to undertake each of these roles?
W.G. Lofthouse, 25 year-old teacher of geometry and perspective, joined the City Battalion in 1914 and was replaced by A. Freeman-Smith, a 66 year old ex-teacher of the same subject. What would have been the impact on learning of reintroducing an older skill set and teaching methodology? Did Freeman-Smith embrace new ideas about art theory? Was there a clash between him and the students?
Belgian refugees were allowed to study for free in 1914. Justin felt it would be worth exploring what impact this would have had on learning. Would it have encouraged the introduction of new ideas?
Between October and January, Justin will be running a series of ten immersive workshops with staff and students to explore how the trauma of World War I became embedded into the life of the building and that of those who worked within it. Rotating groups of five will reflect on the material he unearths in his visits to the Archives and collaborate with him in the production of ten sound pieces. These sound pieces will be logged on line and accessible only through quark codes fired onto tiles to be embedded into the fabric of the building at Margaret Street. People will be able to access the files using smart phones to register and lead them to the hidden content of each sound piece. This physical folding and injection of sound pieces into the architecture of the building will create ‘hidden entries’ that will engage the public with the building and allow succeeding generations to discover it for themselves.
For further details about the project, why not visit Justin's Facebook page?