THE YOUNG are helping to preserve the old as pupils from across the borough delve into the archives at Saddleworth Museum for a special project.
The Year 9’s Archives Club pupils from Saddleworth and Oldham visit the museum in Uppermill in weekly sessions to explore the records and make artistic responses to what they find.
The pupils came up with the name ‘The Artchivists’ for their group and are charting their progress on Instagram where another student volunteer, Megan has created an Insta-blog.
Last September, archivist Neil Barrow gave an introductory tour to the group, who handled some 600-year-old documents and were fascinated by the connection they immediately felt with the past.
“Someone 600 years ago wrote and held this paper!?” said Katy. “That makes me feel a bit strange!”
Lindsey Milnes, learning officer at the Museum, said the theme they are looking at this year is WW2 Homefront.
She explained: “We are exploring how archives and museums can be interpreted through contemporary art while gaining knowledge and skills in how to access, conserve and document archives.
“So far we’ve made Spitfire Fund mobiles, recycled clothing, WW2 fundraising campaign banners and we are currently designing and printing propaganda tea towels and napkins.
“Throughout the project pupils are creating sketchbooks to achieve the Arts Award bronze qualification.
“We have been uncovering all sorts of information and documents such as the Greenfield Busy Bees account book and posters about the Spitfire Fund where Saddleworth alone raised enough money to buy two planes for the war effort.
“We also invited older volunteers to share their childhood experiences and we’ve heard fascinating tales of the rationing black market around here.
“We hope to eventually exhibit the young people’s artwork at the museum as an outcome of the project at the end of the school year.”
She added: “As part of another of our Heritage Lottery funded projects we hope to build on this to record some further oral histories on the theme.
“If any readers are interested to contribute and have wartime memories of Saddleworth or documents relating to rationing, fundraising, Air Raid precautions or POWs please call 01457 874 093 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org”
Last year, around 3,000 people had the chance to get involved in such projects at the Museum last year, from ‘Museum Makes’ family craft sessions to Heritage Walks across the area, researched and put together by Museum volunteers.
An exciting programme is planned for 2018 – look out for more details soon.