Stories of the Landscape
Written by: The Greensand Country Team
The aim of this project was to deliver work which helped celebrate Greensand Country, specifically focusing on uncovering the stories of the people of Greensand Country. A varied programme of work was commissioned and produced, predominantly between November 2020 and May 2021. Stories of the Landscape also focused on training and learning/participation opportunities and recruiting/training/working with a team of volunteers from in and around Greensand Country to help inform the work of the artists.
The project achieved a huge amount in a very short space of time. An incredible array of work was produced in very challenging circumstances (lockdown V2, Covid-19) and the results were outstanding. Not only was the work produced by artists excellent, but the take up/interest in training opportunities, workshops, volunteer opportunities and call out for local voices was fantastic.
Benefits to People
The following people benefited from the project:
Volunteers who researched Greensand Country to aid artists’ work – specifically new skills/training in Oral History, Archiving, Historical Research and how to access archives/resources online and during a lockdown (as all archives were closed). Volunteers also learnt from the artists through this process – learning their methods of working and how to present research work so as best to complement the artist. As mentioned above they learnt about their local area in a new and more in-depth way. They also met others from across Greensand Country in a way which ‘connected’ them in a different way to previous/other volunteering initiatives.
Volunteers who interviewed local voices as part of the Greensand Country Oral History Archive – specifically skills in how to interview local voices and also how to this effectively remotely (all interviews were conducted via internet as face to face was not possible during lockdown).
Participants in Creative Writing Courses (Children, Young People and Adults) – specific skills in writing about and being inspired by landscape/heritage and nature. The competition was based on the theme ‘A sense of place’ and the area of focus had to fall within in Greensand Country as a condition of entry.
Local voices who took part in Oral History project – specifically giving a voice to many who may previously have been under represented in traditional resources/research.
Local venues/churches/parks/town councils who kindly provided locations/inspiration for works – specifically provided venues/parks with a new and unique way to engage with artists, volunteers and audiences.
Local history groups – specifically by celebrating the work/collected expertise
Local experts – specifically by giving voice to local experts, enabling them to share expertise and knowledge with local community in-depth/new and joined up way
Local people – benefitting from the work of artists, local experts, local venues etc. Specifically helped them connect to their local area.
The work produced as part of the project was focused on reaching those who lived, worked or volunteered in Greensand Country. We were also interested in reaching those who visited the area and those living in the surrounding area.
The work produced reached young people, children and adults (of all ages) – as volunteers and participants. The project certainly engaged with elders in a new and innovative way – such as training in Oral History and the technology required.
Benefits to Heritage & Landscape
We explored and celebrated historic parklands, country parks, heathland, geology, farm land, local communities, flora/fauna, the beauty and uniqueness of the area. Ancient history through to modern day and we addressed the future – what will become of the land?
The work posed questions and whilst answering some, the work made a point of sparking an interest with the audience. Encouraging the viewer/listener/participant to get out in to GC and discover for themselves.
The hope was that by creating these incredible and varied works that more people will have engaged with Greensand Country; and therefore understand what Greensand Country is. Through this understanding the hope is that this will encourage them to explore – which will encourage them to become loyal supporters of the countryside, ecology and heritage. And then hopefully this will instill a lasting love for the area, which will ultimately lead them to protect it for future generations/years to come.
Challenges & Lessons Learnt
The challenges faced were:
Managing all of the responsibilities/Outputs for CTGC1 in the given timeframe of 7 months, alongside delivering CTGC2 and CTGC3 outputs at the same time.
Producing all of responsibilities/Outputs for CTGC1 during lockdown v2 due to Covid-19.
Taking over from others associated with the project/making it my own
Ensuring the volunteers had a fulfilling experience, whilst managing working and learning through a lockdown (entirely remotely)
Managing projects in lockdown
If we ran this project again we would do the following things differently:
Find effective ways to reach artists, volunteers and audiences not currently represented
Allocate funds to continue relationship with artists – can further work be produced?
Allocate more time to finding local voices (and then more time for interviewing) for Oral History Archive.
Allocate funds to collect those local voices which couldn’t be collected remotely (many were afraid of the technical side of things and would have preferred face to face etc.)
Insist that GCLP invest in a website which adequately showcased all of the outputs during the festival and post festival. In hindsight a temporary basic website could have been created which would have been such an asset.
Suggest that GCLP provide more support to marketing team to advertise the Creative Outputs/workshops/opportunities.
Work more effectively with long standing volunteers – finding a way to work together to deliver the projects. Although I appreciate this would have been easier if we were working from an office/not during a pandemic!