A celebration day was held at the Star and Shadow Cinema last week to mark the culmination of a six-month local history project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Beyond the Map was led by the Ouseburn Trust in partnership with Curiosity Creative, the North East’s centre for digital storytelling.
Participants consisted of community groups and members of the public who had come forward, eager to share their stories.
Alex worked with Northumbria Daybreak, an organisation which provides social activities for adults with learning difficulties and complex needs from across the region.
The stories they produced were inspired by walks around the valley from Daybreak’s Ouseburn Centre situated on Stepney Bank.
Local schools also got involved – parents and children at Hotspur Primary created their own digital stories, while Sacred Heart Catholic High School explored and experienced how children played in the past, creating a beautiful display of tiles which were exhibited in the Star and Shadow foyer.
Tyneside Women’s Health shared fascinating stories about themselves and the local area, while another group made hand-made books with Printmaker and Book Artist Theresa Easton, taking leisure and play as a starting point for their creativity.
Members of Age UK Lunch Club also took part, with workshops taking place over the summer at St Silas Church, Byker.
Reminiscences included visits to the old Apollo Cinema on Shields Road, as well as memories from a lady whose parents owned a kipper factory in the Ouseburn when she was a child.
Last but by no means least, the self-named ‘Ouseburn Gang’ were on hand with tales of the valley past and present. The group, made up of Mark James, Charles Bell and Moira Cairns, had responded to an appeal sent out by the Ouseburn Trust for members of the public to take part a series of storytelling workshops.
The pieces they produced used photography, illustration and archive photographs from the Trust’s vast collection to provide a vivid portrayal of life in the valley.
The celebration day was a unique opportunity for participants to experience their work on the big screen in the company of members and friends of the Ouseburn Trust, and with it being only a few days before Christmas they could sit back and enjoy with a glass of mulled wine and mine pies provided by Ouseburn Trust staff and volunteers.
All of the digital stories made as part of the project are available to watch online, enabling their effect to spread further afield. Already a former projectionist at the Apollo Cinema has been in touch, having seen and enjoyed the digital story, and has offered to contribute his own memories next time he returns to the area.
All Mapped Out
Curiosity Creative are looking ahead to a busy year of digital storytelling in 2014, having recently moved into the Ouseburn Trust’s Arch 6 office space. Alex will be continuing to work with groups and individuals to archive their stories, using technology as a tool to engage them and promote their involvement with the local community.