Have you heard about the Voices of War and Peace: the Great War and its Legacy project based at the First World War Engagement Centre in the Library of Birmingham? Over the next four years, it will support a wide range of community engagement activities exploring the impact of World War I on the people of Birmingham and the Midlands.
The project is led by Professor Ian Grosvenor, who outlined their plans for the National Lottery-funded scheme at a Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research seminar held last month. He stressed that community engagement was absolutely central to assessing the success of the project, whether this was through working with local history societies, schools or indeed groups of students. There will be opportunities for student placements, e.g. Media students could record workshops or public events, Creative Writing students could write plays or short stories based on archival materials, or Fine Art students could create visual or sound-based works inspired by the collections.
Artist-in-residence Justin Wiggan spoke briefly about a project he is already working on with a group of Fine Art students at Margaret Street. They are using the Art and Design Archives at Parkside to explore the effects the war would have had on staff and students at the School of Art, teaching and the ways in which the building was used with a view to producing sound-based artworks developed from their research.
There is currently a shortage of groups looking at the legacy of the War in the years after 1918, for example, the training programmes for soldiers with disabilities held at the School of Jewellery from 1916 and the setting up of child guidance clinics by 1930 – almost certainly the result of the emotional turmoil caused to youngsters during the War. Could either of these themes be a source of inspiration for you?
If you’d like further information about the kind of resources available and the events they are holding, why not take a look at their website?