Sound from the Stores – Darkest Hour

On 12 May 2016 we welcomed sound artists  Falk Morawitz & Guillaume Dujat to the museum as part of our Manchester After Hours Sound from the Stores commission. We are delighted to share a video of their performance, which was inspired by PHM’s collections.

 Program Note:

”Darkest Hour“ is a sound-centric multimedia piece based on materials located in the People’s History Museum’s Archive concerning the refugee situation during the First and Second World War. The performance mixes the materials of the archive with sound and audio snippets concerning the current refugee debate, illustrating the timelessness of the issue. In the light of repeating history, we hope to demonstrate the relevance of the archival material in present day.

Live: – Audio visual performance, ~13 minutes (premiered 12.05.2016 at the People’s History Museum Manchester). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zIzFJPzyPxw

Installation: – Fixed audio visual installation, 11.30 minutes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9_5gogeMVo

The Fabric of Protest Monthly Workshop

Artist Helen Mather has been working with the Learning Team at the museum to run textile workshops that explore and respond to collections and displays. Following the success of these workshops, Helen will be running a monthly The Fabric of Protest workshop where participants can create their own piece of protest art that reflects the issues that are important to them.

Starting this Friday 15 April, Helen will be asking participants to the use a range of protest materials, including ribbons, rosettes, patches, flags and badges, to contribute to an art piece using their slogan for change. Participants will produce individual pieces that will combine to create a collaborative installation that will be displayed in the museum. Participants can attend an individual workshop or join us on a regular basis to shape how the installation develops. Groups can book onto these sessions by contacting Lisa Gillen on 0161 838 9190 or emailing learning@phm.org.uk

You can find more about the previous fabric workshops Helen has held at the museum on her tumblr blog.

Or you can visit the museum to see the installation from The Fabric of Protest workshops Helen recently held for International Women’s Day; this is on display until the end of April 2016.  In these workshops participants created their slogans of change for women today.

The Fabric of Protest workshops will run on Fri 15 April, Fri 13 May, Sat 18 June, Fri 15 July & Sat 20 August, 1.30-3.30pm. You can book onto these via Eventbrite or by calling the museum on 0161 838 9190.

Woody Guthrie and Donald Trump

A guest blog by Adam Officer who is organising Saturday’s Will Kaufman’s WOODY GUTHRIE: HARD TIMES AND HARD TRAVELIN’ event

You would perhaps find it difficult to pinpoint the most bizarre story to come out of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign so far.

Earlier this year, American musician, academic and Woody Guthrie enthusiast Will Kaufman laid a claim as good as any. He uncovered the unlikely tale of how Woody Guthrie, a prolific folksinger and champion of the poor, came to live in an apartment owned by Trump’s father in the 1950’s.

Working in the Woody Guthrie Archives in Tulsa, Kaufman discovered previously unpublished writings, which attack “Old Man Trump” for being racist. As Kaufman explains, ‘Recalling these foundations becomes all the more relevant in the wake of the racially charged proclamations of Donald Trump, who last year announced: “My legacy has its roots in my father’s legacy.”’

Will Kaufman’s compelling ‘live documentary’ is an exciting and timely performance which sets Guthrie’s songs in their historical context – the Dust Bowl, the Depression, the New Deal and the state of popular music itself, bringing to light the blending of music and radical politics that marks Guthrie’s most powerful work. The show highlights the contrasting politics between Woody Guthrie’s vision of an alternate America that works for everyone and an America envisioned by the likes of Donald Trump.

People’s History Museum are hosting Will Kaufman’s ‘live documentary’ on Sat 9 April.

Tickets are available here.  

Looking for an inspirational venue for your event?  Check out PHM’s Venue Hire pages for more information

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cultural spaces are safe spaces: Why inclusion is everything

A guest blog by placement student Kath Fox

I currently have the pleasure of working alongside the brilliant team at the People’s History Museum, which most recently involved a day of events celebrating the National Festival of LGBT History.

As part of the Festival, I ran a stall promoting the Museum’s new community-led LGBT+ project entitled Never Going Underground, taking place in 2017 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of homosexual acts; in partnership with Manchester Lesbian and Gay Chorus, LGBT Foundation, Proud 2b Parents and The Proud Trust. Throughout the day, thoughts and feelings about past, present and future LGBT campaigns were gathered and captured from the festival attendees and much conversation was had.

Then all of a sudden, around mid –morning, a woman arrived at the Museum with a sense of urgency, keen to know where one of the talks about gender was due to take place. She seemed anxious, looked at me and said: “My son has come out as transgender”, then paused and waited for me to respond to those words which were still unfamiliar to her. I greeted the news with a big smile and replied, “How wonderful!” She looked relieved: “I need to talk to somebody about it. Can you help?”. “Of course”, I said. Within the hour, in between talks and events, Kate Hardy (LGBT Foundation’s Health and Wellbeing Officer) and the woman were busy arranging to meet.

The woman had come across the Festival online and thought she may find help there. Which is exactly what she did. Her son’s life is already better. At that moment she too became part of an entirely new LGBT+ family, and it was just as important to welcome her within an inclusive space, as it was to ensure she had the right support for her son.

Inclusion is such a powerful thing. As an LGBT+ person, to be part of an environment that includes you, respects you and positively celebrates you is something perhaps others take for granted. Being part of a Festival that achieves these things is particularly special.

Cultural spaces are as much about belonging as they are about storytelling and the People’s History Museum do it brilliantly.

 

 

 

Creative Currency Casino!

Artist Pui Lee’s final blog about her fantastic programme of Summer Family Friendly events.

Well, there was definitely a lot of money floating about as my summer project came to an end at the People’s History Museum 😀

Creative Currency Casino @ People's History Museum 26.08.15  (7)The final event was, of course, my much anticipated Creative Currency Casino event, where museum visitors were invited to try their luck on various games of chance to win some truly fabulous prizes to take home with them! Admission was free and all the participants enthusiastically drew their own banknotes to spend at the casino. There were a lot of brilliant designs created and I even noticed some very speedy mass-production methods being used during the afternoon. After all, the more banknotes you had, the more plays you had and so, your chances of winning increased – potentially!

There was something for everyone: whether it was the Fast ‘n’ Furious Card Games, “Stuck in the Mud!” Dice Games, the “Show Me the Money BINGO!” and the ever popular “Human Fruit-Machine” (which, from looking at the takings at the end of the day, was the most played game of the afternoon!). It was fantastic to see people of all ages taking part – showing that art is not only for the young ones to enjoy but for grown-ups too!  Participants commented that the workshop was very “interactive” and “fun to play”! There were certainly lots of smiling faces and it was wonderful to see all the excitement over the games! All players also received a special 28PUI currency banknote to take home with them as a memento of the day!

It is also worth mentioning that all the hand-drawn banknotes from the workshop, giant printed and collaged banknotes, as well as my example pieces from the previous summer workshops are display at the museum for all to see, so do come down to have look!

Creative Currency Casino @ People's History Museum 26.08.15  (42)Overall, it has been a wonderful 5 weeks and I have enjoyed every minute of it! 🙂 It has been great to deliver this art project to coincide with the Show Me the Money exhibition. After all, money plays such huge part in our everyday lives and yet it is often regarded as being a bit of a forbidden subject. We are often reluctant to talk about it and although it is often perceived as being a grown-ups’ subject, I think it is worth engaging children and young people with it too. This has been a really fun and educational project, which explores the theme of money and finance in terms of how we use it, the exchanges that we make and its perceived value. …Thank you to everyone who has taken part in it and/or supported it in some way!

The Creative Currency Casino! project is now finished but there is still a legacy of participation opportunities still available. For example, my All the Money in the World (2015) installation will still remain in the Show Me the Money exhibition space for visitors to add their responses to. Likewise, I will be returning to the museum during the next half term on Wed 28 October 2015 to deliver my Break the Vault drop-in family friendly art workshop, so I hope to see you all there for that! But until then, it’s good bye for now and remember …”everyone’s a winner!!!” 😀

Recycled Sculptures Worth Every Penny

Another guest blog by artist Pui Lee, who is running a series of Family Friendly workshops over the summer to link to our Show Me the Money exhibition

So, I am back again at the People’s History Museum… Hooray!! 🙂 This week, the theme of the workshop was objects associated with money or finance. By using junk modelling techniques, families who came to my drop-in session got the opportunity to create their very own Recycled Sculptures Worth Every Penny! to take home with them.

I was initially inspired by Wolfgang Weileder’s, Cashpoint (2008), in the Show Me the Money exhibition. It provided a great reference point because of his use of simplified shapes, scale and abstraction. I also liked how the piece explores the relationship between form and function by randomly dispensing a five-pound note every 24 hours! So even though it appears inanimate on first glance, it is very much fully operational!

recycled sculptures 05.08.15@ People's History Museum (4)
I absolutely love working in 3D and I knew the children would too, so I was SOOOO looking forward to this week in particular! I pre-made some example recycled sculptures to provide some inspiration for the participants, which included a cash-till register, an ATM and a couple of calculators! I noticed the children were excited to get hands-on straight away and to raid the big collection of cardboard boxes, plastic packaging, bottle tops and other items available! The trusty calculator proved to be a popular option this afternoon and there was even a (very) giant cash-till register made by one family! Also, there was one little boy who was absolutely keen to make a sculpture of a rocket-ship today so I said, “Yes! -Well, they are indeed very expensive objects, so go for it!” This was a somewhat more different interpretation of the theme but that’s okay, I am always happy to encourage freedom of artistic expression by my workshop participants! 😀


recycled sculptures 05.08.15@ People's History Museum (31)
The feedback today was very positive once again! One of the parents commented, “That was so, so good! Really fun!” 🙂 Meanwhile, one child wrote down in their evaluation form: “I had a good day and I enjoyed meeting Pui.” They also commented that they had learnt more than they originally knew about finance. Likewise, they also reflected how it had made them realise how much we use and rely on money every day and how without it, “you won’t be able to get the things you need”. So I am really pleased that it has been a thought-provoking learning experience too!

At the end of their visit, all the participants (both adults and children) were invited to contribute towards my ongoing All the Money in the World (2015) installation as part of the overall Creative Currency Casino! project. I popped in to see the piece to monitor its progress and it’s certainly growing very nicely! Go and visit it in the family learning space inside the exhibition, see what others have written and make sure you take part too! 🙂

…Well, on that note, I will see you all on Wednesday 12 August, 1.00pm – 3.00pm for the Crafty Credit Cards workshop 😀

Thoughts at the end of the Wollstonecraft Project

A guest post by University of Manchester Researchers in Residence, Camilla Mork Rostvik and Lucy Johnson

Mary Wollstonecraft by John Williamson (c) Walker Art Gallery; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Mary Wollstonecraft by John Williamson (c) Walker Art Gallery; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

It’s difficult to say what we will miss most from our time as researchers in residence at the People’s History Museum. In collaboration with the University of Manchester, our project focused on researching the Mary Wollstonecraft portrait in Gallery One, a stunning, powerful visual representation of one of the founders of modern feminism. We have enjoyed working with the friendly and knowledgeable staff, from the café that helped us out with emergency water bottles to the front desk beautifully writing up our events on the blackboard that greets visitors. It has been very insightful to work with different people across the museum, such as the events, curator and outreach team. We encourage other researchers to get involved with the People’s History Museum and their brilliant collections and helpful attitude to external people hosting events.

Over the six months Lucy and I organised six events to celebrate, challenge and change the visual representation of Mary Wollstonecraft. We began by working with Manchester-based artist, Helen Mather, on a beautiful poster that outlined the events.

In early March we dedicated two tours of the PHM galleries to feminism and Wollstonecraft, and enjoyed hearing the groups’ thoughts on the portrait, gender politics and the future of equality.

In April, campaigner and Wollstonecraft-champion, Roberta Wedge, joined us to speak about her campaign to get the first statue of Wollstonecraft erected in the world.  Her passionate lecture on the life and work of Wollstonecraft, and why we must not forget her, moved us and the audience.

In May, we invited Professor of Romanticism Sharon Ruston from Lancaster University to speak about Wollstonecraft and natural history. She gave the talk at the Working Class Movement Library on the day after the general election. Many found comfort in her concluding statements about the high number of women in government today, as we came to grips with the Conservative success.

Professor Ruston joined us again for an academic panel at the PHM, joined by Dr. Laura Kirkley (Newcastle), Dr Emma Liggins and Dr Sonja Lawrenson (both MMU). Speaking about Wollstonecraft and race, motherhood and literature respectively. The audience was treated to original research and insightful comments on modern feminism.

16 May 2015, Stewy, Wollstonecraft & Graffitti @ People's History Museum (24)Our penultimate event was all about art as we invited graffiti artist Stewy in to make a new Mary Wollstonecraft portrait. Stewy shared a small and brilliant documentary about his thoughts on graffiti, feminism and Wollstonecraft. After this we followed him out to watch his image of Wollstonecraft take shape. There was a lot of excitement as she appeared in all her life sized glory in a windswept Manchester. The piece is currently living in the museum, and we can’t wait to see what they will do with her. Stewy stayed on to sign posters and chat, and there are still some gorgeous, signed screen prints available to buy from the PHM shop.

Our final event was all about poetry. Feminist collective Stirred Poetry guided a group of both poets and non-poets through some creative exercises, and by the end of the day we had written individual and collective poems. These were all beautiful and powerful, do check them out here.

Over the course of these events our suspicions have been proved right. People are passionate about Mary Wollstonecraft. They, like us, want to know more about her and we suspect there is a lot more to learn. We want her represented visually as well as creatively and lyrically and we think the PHM portrait of her is incredibly important to how we should study her today. We want monuments and discussions, research and debate. There is simply not enough attention paid to one of the most important women ever to have lived, loved and worked in this country.

Where next? Soon we will be meeting with the PHM for the last time. Lucy and myself hope to contribute to academic research with a paper on the portrait and our art historical findings and hopefully more people will be encouraged to visit the portrait and study it themselves. We also hope to write a leaflet for a feminist tour of the museum and to encourage the museum to make some changes. We are sad to see the end of this project but we know we will visit Mary again. In my last line of my last poem from the poetry workshop I wrote: “I’ll miss you.” We certainly will.