The New Art Gallery Walsall is delighted to present the Living Memory Project’s, The Black Country. This exhibition marks the culmination of a four-year engagement with residents of Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton in order to record, archive and celebrate everyday life stories and personal photographic collections.
To talk on record, to tell our life’s story, and give meaning to one’s personal and treasured photographs is a once in a lifetime opportunity. The experience can be at once emotional, cathartic, enlightening and ultimately life-affirming. To share these stories and photographs with others, online, in print, and through exhibitions, is to make the personal public and invite empathy, understanding and connection. These private stories and treasured images become part of our collective, cultural memory.
Geoff Broadway, Director – The Living Memory Project
The breadth of these personal accounts recorded from people living in the region encompass memories of post-war optimism in the 1940s, to reflections on today’s society. Set against a backdrop of cultural and economic change, the stories touch upon migration, identity, love, joy and loss, aswell as the importance of belonging.
A comprehensive new publication of the same title The Black Country brings together these stories and photographs, making visible the rich and varied life experiences of people from The Black Country.
Artists from across the region were commissioned to work with community groups and organisations in the Black Country to make new work that responded to the project’s central themes. From these collaborations the Living Memory Project hosted pop-up exhibitions, guided walks, seminars, collecting events and over 120 community workshops .
Displayed in the exhibition is work by participating artists Farhad Berahman, Anand Chhabra, Naomi Clarke, Anneka French, Lauren Hatchard, Andrew Jackson, Harmeet Chagger-Khan, Caroline Molloy, Leanne O’Conner, Mel Tomlinson and Lucy Turner. Using a variety of mediums including photography, film, sculpture, print and textiles, the artists explore themes that include identity, memory and dreams, forgotten places, work, historic events and migration.
Living Memory – The Black Country is available to purchase in the Gallery shop, for the special exhibition price of £20 (£26 thereafter)
Saturday 2nd October 2021, 12 noon onwards
Speeches at 12.30pm from Geoff Broadway, Director, Living Memory Project
Join us at The New Art Gallery Walsall for a closing event to celebrate The Living Memory Project: The Black Country.
This event is free, drop in, with no need to book and everyone is welcome. We’d be delighted to bring together those who contributed to the project, including participants, artists and volunteers.
For any further enquiries about the event, please contact Hannah Anderson, Exhibitions Coordinator Hannah.firstname.lastname@example.org
Artist, academic and writer Caroline Molloy, speaks about her work ‘Women of Walsall’ that was created as part of The Living Memory Project; The Black Country. A selection of the portraits are included in the exhibition in the Gallery’s ground floor Community Gallery. The work is also presented in the Gallery’s street level window box on a 4 metre high banner.
Artist Melanie Tomlinson speaks about her work ‘A Place With No Name’ that was created as part of The Living Memory Project; The Black Country. The artwork combines the artist’s exploration of edgelands between Dudley and Tipton, with family history and contributions from participants in the artist’s community workshops.
Photographer and writer Andrew Jackson speaks about his work ‘In the Night of the Day’ commissioned as part of The Living Memory; The Black Country. Within the exhibition at the Gallery, the work exists in the form of a hard copy publication, which visitors are invited to take away. Online is experienced as a 30,000 word novella, which charts a 24 hour period on the 9th April 1941. Based on real people and events that unfolded on this date, the artist imagines what might have been said and how these individuals on different sides of the Blitz might have felt.
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The Living Memory Project is developed in partnership with Sandwell Advocacy and the Community and History Archives Service, Sandwell. It was funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Arts Council England, Sandwell Borough Council, GM2LF Big Local, Garfield Weston Foundation and the Black Country Living Museum.