Represent Project - Peoples Heritage Cooperative & The Active Wellbeing Society

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New project klaxon! I’ve been commissioned by the People’s Heritage Co-operative and The Active Wellbeing Society to work on an 18 month / three-phase design project for ‘Represent’. I plan on documenting my work on the project as we go.

Represent focuses specifically on the impact and legacy in Birmingham of the 'Representation of the People Act, 1918', which extended the franchise to include most men, and for the first time some women. It had a radical impact on political representation, campaigning and the development of civic life in Birmingham and it was the beginning of an exciting era of ideas and activism. Coupled with the huge upheavals of the First World War and citizens’ responses to this, the post-1918 period of Birmingham's history is rich with important stories which still have resonance today.

The project will engage with members of the Saheli Hub and Edgbaston Community Centre and focus both on women's roles as active citizens and historic housing campaigns, drawing parallels between then and now. The project will culminate in a touring exhibition (which I will be designing the interpretation for).

Through exploring local archives and drawing on their own lived experiences, the groups will 'represent' their archival research for new audiences through the touring exhibition, co-created with local artists, due to tour to leisure centres and other community venues in Summer 2020.

The project is managed by Project Manager Rachel Gillies, supported by a project Advisory Group and monthly meetings of the Committee of the People’s Heritage Co-operative.

Last week (Weds 27th March) I had my first visit to the Wolfson Centre for Archival Research on the fourth floor at the Library of Birmingham - I can’t share the archival images due to copyright restrictions - however the Wolfson centre is open to the public and is free of charge so you can go and explore yourself! You just need to request an appointment in advance and bring along ID. I loved looking through 100 year old printed materials and it has given me a lot of ideas for the direction the identity and preliminary stages of the design.

This week (Thurs 5th April) I visited my friend’s traditional printing workshop The Holodeck in Digbeth, as a starting point for the identity design and also to discuss producing a promotional flyer to tell people about this project / how they can get involved / follow the updates. The Holodeck has a number of vintage printing presses including an Arab press which is the kind of press which would have been used to print the parliamentary posters / printed ephemera we were looking through in the archives last week. Joseph also has an extensive collection of wooden block type sets which have decorative blocks / flourishes - these are stunning pieces of design and I hope to feature them - especially as most of the records that we were looking through are text based and have decorative borders.

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