Last year I was very fortunate to be invited to The National Archives (TNA) in Kew to feature in their Archives Inspire video (above), filmed by the wonderful Magneto Films.
It was a privilege to be filmed alongside the other cast who are all brilliant professionals and it was lovely to revisit TNA after spending a year as one of their Transforming Archives Trainee‘s. The Magneto team were very professional, especially as it was my 1st attempt at being in front of a rather large camera!
Archives Inspire is a four year campaign looking at new ways audiences can experience and use archives- have a look at TNA’s Chief Executive Jeff James’ blog post and the Archives Inspire pages on TNA’s website for more.
Digital is an interesting challenge for the archives sector, where records being produced are increasingly in the digital format (think from large organisation’s records to personal photographs). Over the past decade Archivists have been thinking about how to preserve digital media for accountability, evidential, cultural and research purposes. At present, digital is now becoming central to the archival profession as we hope to preserve these records and facilitate access.
I am particularly interested in the creative uses of archives, especially heritage engagement using 3D models, websites, online exhibitions and videogames. I was very honoured to be able to showcase some of my 3D work in TNA’s Archives Inspire video- you can see my North Bar (Beverley) model in the video showcased using the software Blender 3D. Very grateful that something I’ve been doing for over 5 years is being featured in such an important video.
I was very excited to play a part in the planning and facilitating of the Hull History Centre’s two recent Bring Your Own Device Minecraft workshops (14th & 21st August 2015).
Participants were invited to the History Centre with their laptops and tablets to recreate Hull’s historical architecture in the creative sandbox game Minecraft. During the events, participants received advice from the History Centre team and shared their work with others- we all had lots of fun exploring Hull’s architectural history in the home of Hull’s written heritage itself!
With my background in architectural history I was keen to get participants engaged with Hull’s wide variety of historical buildings- a topic I’m personally very excited about! I delved into the History Centre’s strongrooms to dig out interesting (and hopefully inspiring) old photographs and architectural plans for participants to recreate and then digitised these for use on learning handouts. The learning handouts included facts, dates, architectural styles, photos, plans- and even a Minecraft character dressed from the period!
The buildings chosen were:
Hull’s medieval fortifications
King Henry VIII’s Hull Castle
Hull City Hall
Dock Offices / Hull Maritime Museum
St Stephen’s Church
Lord Line building at St Andrew’s Quay
From medieval to georgian, neo-classical to gothic, I was particularly interested in seeing how our participants would engage with the archival material and which ones would keep them most interested. We had our clear favourites- Hull City Hall due to it’s familiarity, and Hull’s medieval fortifications (such as Beverley Gate and Hessle Gate).
We even held a “best screenshot” competition where building entries were judged by Hull History Centre archivists on effort and likeness to the original.
It was great to see so many participants come to the events, approximately 30 in each session! I particularly enjoyed the social, community feel, especially with participants sharing their builds and Minecraft tips and tricks. We will hopefully see everyone return to the History Centre in the future! Have a look at the History Centre’s fascinating variety of events to see what’s on offer!
UPCOMING: In the next few days you will be able to see more information on the events as a whole and see our competition winners on my upcoming History Centre blog post….
Enjoy a tour of our Minecrafter’s work: I recorded the entirety of the in-game footage from the second session and created a video to showcase some of the brilliant work by our Minecrafters. I hope you are as amazed as what we were by the quality of the work, well done to all our participants!
In this post I describe what I’ve been getting up to in the world of archives so far in my Transforming Archives Traineeship at the Hull History Centre. Many thanks go to Emma Stagg, Transforming Archives Project Manager, for coordinating these- I’m looking forward to seeing all the other trainee’s posts about their traineeships!
Firstly, on the 16th April I went to Heritage Quay with Simon Wilson, Acting University Archivist, and Claire Weatherall, Project Archivist to speak at the Northern Collaboration Learning Exchange event. The theme of this event was “Developing Archives” and was highly relevant with it being based on university archives (I am seconded to the Hull University Archives at the Hull History Centre).
Simon carried out a highly interesting talk on the Hull History Centre’s joint partnership model between the University of Hull and the Hull City Council and how this works in practice. It was great to see photos of the development of the History Centre from 2010 (which I had never seen before!) and to see how far the archives had come along. It made me feel very proud to be working there!
Myself and Claire presented on Architectural Archives: New Models of Outreach based on the collections of architect Francis Johnson. Claire began the talk explaining her role as project archivist for the Francis Johnson & Partners collection (U DFJ) and the many strands that she has developed from her cataloguing work- including exploration of the possibility to use a GIS mapping interface with the catalogued works, use of volunteers, and the development and implementation of Lego & Craft days called History Makers.
For the second half of the talk I presented on our HullCraft project which stems from Claire’s work with the Francis Johnson collection. I explained how we are using Johnson’s architectural plans to engage a wider, and younger, audience using the computer game Minecraft as an educational platform.
It was great to hear from the other speakers talk about their archives- the team at Heritage Quay and Alison Cullingford (University of Bradford). Thank you to Heritage Quay for having us! A day at Heritage Quay could not go without mentioning their brilliant interactive displays- it was like a dream come true for me! We experimented with their giant gesture-recognition wall which was linked up to their online catalogue, and also their touchscreen displays (see photos below).
Once Northern Collaboration was over, I ventured to London to the Wellcome Collection to present a poster session called HullCraft: Using Digitised Archival Collections for Outreach at the Museum Librarians & Archivists Group (MLAG) conference “The D-Word: Tips & Tricks for Digitising Library & Archive Collections” (24th April 2015).
This conference featured a fantastic set of speakers who gave advice on every part of the digitisation process, from planning, writing a funding proposal, technicalities, accessibility and digital preservation. Many thanks to the Internet Archive for giving us a tour of their sophisticated digitisation suite.
I was carrying out a poster session on our HullCraft project, telling delegates the story of how we are digitising architectural plans of Francis Johnson’s work and engaging a hard to reach audience using Minecraft. I had a very enjoyable day talking to a wide variety of people from other archives and museums about the project, and was was thrilled to find out that other archives are beginning to plan their own Minecraft-related projects.
Overall it was a very useful event (and highly organised- thank you Melanie Grant and Jane Bramwell!) and I came away with lots of great digitisation advice that will be of use during my Transforming Archives traineeship at the Hull History Centre. If you want to find out more about the conference I highly recommend viewing Caitlin Moore’s Storify as it provides a great summary of the event!
On the 20th January I was very fortunate to have presented at the Arts Council’s national conference “Digital Utopias” on the Hull History Centre’s archives engagement project “HullCraft“.
“Digital Utopias was a one-day conference which inspired and sparked debate about how new technologies are enabling creativity across the arts. The conference captured topical and diverse approaches to curation, archiving, collecting and creating from a range of art forms, from the visual arts to theatre”. (Arts Council England)
The conference was held at the Hull Truck Theatre and there were lots of big tech, arts and culture names there, from the Google Cultural Institute to the V&A! See the programme to view a full list of speakers.
As I was there representing the Hull History Centre, you can read my full extended blog post here on the Hull History Centre blog.
I’ve been blogging on the Hull History Centre’s blog recently where you can read about the HullCraft project (engaging young people with archival material using Minecraft), and my work digitising the Grand Tour diary of Francis Johnson, a local architect.
In late November I spent a week at The National Archives in Kew which was insightful. It was my first visit and I was accompanied by all the other “Transforming Archives” trainees who are based at different archives services nationally. To read more on my week at The National Archives have a look at my Hull History Centre blog post.
I was also promoting HullCraft at the Platform Expos 2014 at Hull College accompanied by Joel Mills and our recycled archive boxes Creeper and Steve. This was a fantastic day of speaking to gamers and teachers about the project, recruiting new HullCrafters and showcasing the server live on a big screen. The server features a reconstruction of the Hull History Centre and took approximately 18450 blocks to build!
The next coming year brings lots of events that I would recommend for anyone interested in digitisation and digital heritage.
I have a showcase session with Joel at the Digital Utopias event in Hull on the 20th January 2015. We will be demonstrating the HullCraft project and looking at re-contextualising archives using Minecraft.