The Community Fieldworkers Project was part of the community engagement strand of Collections People Stories.
This 3 year large scale collections review aimed to find out more about the objects we look after and experiment with how the museum could use them for learning and community work.
The Project Team worked in partnership with a number of different community groups and service providers to do this – have a look at the project pages for more information. We also wanted to create opportunities for individuals to take part – particularly people who had previously participated in a group project at the museum and were keen to do more.
This is where the Community Fieldworkers Project came in. Using our networks and existing community partners, we recruited 35 South Londoners to take part in the project.
As well as lots of individuals we also had people taking part who represent groups and services – for example Mulberry Day Centre, ME Society, SELAN and the Shaftesbury Clinic (Springfield University Hospital Tooting).
We started the project with a day of training in Anthropology and using museum objects for inspiration. This was also the first opportunity for all the Fieldworkers to meet each other.
Straight after the training day, participants started receiving specially designed postcards to their home, hospital or community centre – each featuring an object from the Anthropology Collection and a short amount of information about it.
Their instructions were to use at least one of the objects on the 18 postcards to:
- make something new
- investigate more
- or tell a story that uses it as a starting point.
We wanted the brief to be as wide as possible so that each participant could choose their own creative journey based on their own ideas and interests.
Having received all 18 postcards, our Fieldworkers discovered that Tanya, the designer, had created them so that they all fitted together like a jigsaw.
We offered lots of support to the participants to keep them connected and inspired – phonecalls, time to use the library at the Horniman, suggestions of where to find more information and a bursary to buy art materials. We ran a series of evening and weekend 'meet ups' for people to encourage each other along with the project.
We also took participants along to the Study Collection Centre to see the 18 objects up close. By this stage, many participants had created a real connection with some of the objects so felt like they were seeing old friends.
Here is Nicola Scott, SOCL2 Trainee and Project Co-ordinator talking about the project
Over the following pages, you can see some of the objects from the 18 postcards that the Community Fieldworkers worked with and the artwork they created in response to 'Make, Investigate, Tell a Story'.