I’m managing a heritage project which is releasing my geek-ness about old photos, beautiful handwriting, nameless faces, curled maps. And missing files. The pleasure overflows when I spend my day in the archives; delving, piecing. And then, what to do with it all?
I’ve gone back in time to research for quite a few projects I’ve developed but it’s really only ever formed the basis of a creative and fictional imagining. This project is different in that we need to be straight with the information, telling it like it was and sharing it with the local community.
Bryant & May were a big matchmaking business and at the height of the industrial revolution – were based from an incredibly beautiful looking factory in Bow, East London. It was the site of the historic 1888 Match Women Strike and this is where our struggle started, appropriate maybe. All of us working on this project suddenly felt terrified that we weren’t giving the right version of events – as we uncovered more and more we realised that actually, the account we were telling was perhaps not what we believed.
Luckily, we all came out of our terrified state – and accepted that as non-historians, our opinions and research will of course be different. But the information we uncover is just as valid – it’s our own interpretation. The project I’m managing is not a history class. The booklet we produce is not the final word. It is a starting point that we’re offering, encouraging everyone that they can go to their own archives (open to all) and get their (clean) hands on the contracts that hint to the unknown event, the photo that gives a clue. Don’t take anyone else’s account if you don’t want to, piece together the puzzle for yourself.