We feel that engaging people in the process of making objects that they can then keep, fosters not only manual skills, but wellbeing, improved/new social networks and a sense of pride. A distinct outcome of lockdown has been a renewed interest in ‘making’ exploring processes from the past. We’re taking advantage of this while it lasts, before young people get back on their smartphones, where all the thinking is done for you.
Cargoes unearths 19thC glass/lighting, photography and hydro power innovations, each with a site- specific output collecting accents, dialects, languages and lexicons of residents, collating oral histories that will feed into evaluation. Photographic processes employed to capture activities also records who is taking part.
We’re investigating lost histories in the exchange of goods, materials and labour, highlighting the commonality of two areas built on maritime trade, before railways dominated freight. We’ll explore 19thC innovations that travelled between the Northeast and London and vice-versa: Joseph Swan’s lightbulb that lit up London and his tonal system that revolutionised photography; Michael Faraday’s lighthouse technologies and miner’s lamp that improved the lives of seamen and pitmen. Through meetings with people trying to save/preserve important historical sites connected with the period, we found a great need for meaningful public engagement with this golden age of scientific discovery.
With government now promoting a welcome ‘levelling up’ between North and South, this feels like the right time to open up investigation and dissemination of largely-forgotten reciprocity between the Thames and the Tyne areas, trade, innovation and industry centred on maritime routes that hugged our Eastern Seaboard. Whether this was sand ballast washed up by the Tyne facilitating glassmaking that later saw economic migrancy to the Thames Plate Glassworks on the Lower Lea, or the vast amounts of Tyneside coal firing up massive Thames-side gasworks.
The Thames/Lower Lea and Tyne/Ouseburn areas
Garry Hunter for Fitzrovia Noir
Graham Carrick for Fitzrovia Noir
Martha McKellar from NewBridge Project
Armstrong Studio Trust
Cumbria Northumberland Tyne and Wear NHS Trust
Flow NE CIC
Jesmond Park Academy
Lens Lab Leeds
North Tyneside Art Studio
Trinity Buoy Wharf Trust
Whitburn CofE Academy
September 2021- December 2022