Centennial – Free Special Daytime Event at Fabrica Gallery

Centennial flyer

Strike a Light is organising an event this week at Fabrica gallery in Brighton as part of 2014’s Heritage Open Days.

It’s free and offers lots of interesting activities to participate in, as well as lots of tea and cake. Come along and join us!


When: Thursday 11th September 2014 (1-4pm)

Where: Fabrica gallery, 40 Duke Street, Brighton BN1 1AG

What: Special Daytime Event – Free drop in

On  gallery in collaboration with arts and heritage organisation will be hosting a free and specially created event

On Thursday 11th September (1-4pm), Fabrica gallery in collaboration with arts and heritage organisation Strike a Light will be hosting a free and specially created event Centennial.

Forming a part of the nationwide Heritage Open Days free events across England and Wales, this is an afternoon drop-in to commemorate the beginning of the centenary of World War I. It profiles and examines aspects of our experiences of the war through the use of diaries, moving image, wartime songs, creative workshops, and talks, exploring our shared and personal memories relating to the war, and the stories we were left with.

The event will offer art activities, film showings, workshop activities, talks, and free afternoon tea. In addition, Fabrica will be revealing a plaque honouring the parishioners who fought and died in WWI, hidden from public view for decades.

The event will be followed by a free evening film showing of musical romp Oh! What a Lovely War with low cost bar & nibbles.

Aimed at all and especially older people, visitors can relax, and encounter visual art in entrancing, fun, creative way. This event also welcomes everyone including families, babies and children of all ages. Free transport is available for the elderly and disabled. Please get in touch to arrange this.

  Book your free ticket for the daytime event here: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/centennial-tickets-11944471235

And for the free film event here: http://filmclubsept.eventbrite.com 

 To find out more about this event and others in the Special Daytime Events programme at Fabrica, please contact Clare Hankinson, Fabrica Project Coordinator on 01273 778 646 or email: office@fabrica.org.uk  Web: http://www.fabrica.org.uk

To find out more about the arts and heritage organisation Strike a Light please contact Nicola Benge strikealight@rocketmail.com or web: http://www.strikealight.org


oh what a lovely War

Fabrica Film Club:

Oh! What a Lovely War (1969, 144mins, PG)

Fabrica Film Club is marking the Centenary of the First World War with this classic musical, directed by Sir Richard Attenborough and partly filmed on our very own West Pier of Brighton.

Based on Joan Littlewood’s 1963 stage musical, Oh, What a Lovely War! this adaptation is packed with British stars (Olivier, Gielgud, Redgraves’) follows some of the most noted stages of the war, and revolves around the marching songs of the soldiers. Filled with satire, this daring anti-war film reflects Britains experience of losing an entire generation to the conflict.

 “Oh! What a Lovely War” does recreate this time, in a bitter mixture of history, satire, detail, panorama and music. Especially music. There is something paradoxical in the thought of singing about a war, and yet cheap popular songs often capture the spirit of a time better than any collection of speeches and histories. Miss Littlewood, and Attenborough after her, present the war as a British music hall review; there’s a lot of smiling up front, but backstage you can see the greasepaint and smell the sweat, and the smiles become desperate, and there begins to be blood. - Roger Ebert

 Comfy chairs, bean bags, blankets and free nibbles. Low-cost pay bar. Doors open 6pm, film starts promptly at 6.30pm.

Film Club is free to book, but please ensure if you have booked that you come, or if you find you can’t attend, let us know so someone on the waiting list can attend instead – we hate wasted seats!



Mass Observation family event – Domestic Science

Join the Mass Observation Archive on Saturday 1 November 2014 for a very special FREE family event.

Discover the science behind some common household appliances, find out how they have changed how we live at home, and try your hand at some amazing experiments.

How long did it take to wash clothes before we had detergents?
How does a microwave work, and has it changed our meal times?
Why does a record have grooves

They’ll be answering all these questions and more with extracts from the archives and some fantastic science demonstrations. You will even get to make some items to take away with you!

Drop in between 10.30am and 3.00pm and join the fun. Suitable for families, yrs 5+ The event is based at The Keep The Keep, Woollards Way, Brighton, BN1 9BP

 Domestic Science Flyer

The Digital War Memorial

Strike a Light has been checking out some new World War I related resources recently, since we’ll be working with Queenspark Books on their new A Graphic War project which starts in November 2014 and runs until September 2016.

downloadThe Digital War Memorial website is one such inspiring resource which brings together communities and artists across the UK to make unique creative responses to the First World War Centenary.

Using the rich resources of local libraries and archives as the starting point, these new artworks tell the diverse stories of how the First World War touched people’s lives and how it is remembered today.

One section we’ve particularly found touching, and a really great way of engaging younger audiences with the theme, is this page of graffiti art and writings by Lancashire artist Liam Dean. Have a look, it’s moving and modern and yet still relevant to young people.






Local company, Inroads productions, has been awarded R&D funding through the Arts Council England’s Grants For The Arts Scheme to develop Stanmer, a brand new play to be written by Sara Clifford.

This site specific play will explore the history of Stanmer House and its surrounding park, with particular reference to the early 1960s, a time of great social and cultural change, when Sussex University was being built next door.

Mixing eighteenth, nineteenth, twentieth- and even twenty-first- century histories, together with a ‘60s groove, and informed and inspired by the memories of local residents, the play will explore how we approach our history – from stately homes to country parks, from monuments to common land- and asks what is our ‘heritage’? What do we want from it? And to whom does it belong?

 It is planned that the play will be produced by Veronica Stephens for Zap Art and Sara Clifford for Inroads Productions in May 2015, as part of the Brighton Fringe, with a professional cast and director, and involving up to 100 local people as participants.

Getting involved:

There will be plenty of opportunities for members of the community to get involved by either contributing their stories and memories or taking part in free oral history training sessions delivered by Centre For Research in Memory Narrative & Histories, University of Brighton.


A key element of the project, will be to work with local residents to collect their memories of the House and park, and particularly the early days of the university, as well as family stories about working at the House. Do you have a story to share? Then please get in touch..


Over four sessions, people will be able to learn about how to conduct interviews, how to use digital recording equipment and how to summarise and transcribe stories. They will be able to contribute to the oral history archive, and take away new skills to learn about their own families and local history.

The sessions will take place on Saturday 4th October (10-1pm); Wednesday 8th October (6-8pm) ( both at the Writers Place); and Thursday October 23rd 5.3- 7.30pm and Thursday November 6th, 5.30 – 7.30 both at Room M57, Grand Parade, University of Brighton.

Would you be interested in taking part ? Then please get in touch..


Sara Clifford stanmerhouse1960@gmail.com

Follow on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Stanmer/1452604338351936

The Edward Reeves Archive Project -Lewes

Rpub00014The Edward Reeves Archive Project

Edward Reeves took his first studio portrait in 1855. Today his great-grandson Tom takes photographs in the same studio on Lewes High Street.

The Reeves Studio is thought to be the oldest continuously operated photographic studio in the world. Its archive of over 100,000 glass plate negatives with relating paperwork is both a unique and living record of the daily life of this market town and the history of photographic practice. There are roughly another 100,000 photographs on film and shot digitally.

The archive is of international significance, and important in the history of commercial photography. The original ledgers and account books allow us to caption, date and locate any of the 100,000 glass negatives, and identify the subjects, customers and their addresses.

Cataloguing and digitising the archive

Brigitte Lardinois, Senior Research Fellow in photography and Deputy Director of the Photography and Archive Research Centre of the University of the Arts in London, is working with the Reeves family on the cataloguing and preservation of this archive. They are developing a long-term strategy to make this valuable historical resource accessible to the wider public and researchers.

Brigitte is applying to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a grant to enable the photographing and transcription of the existing ledgers and account books, in order to map what is in the archive and help prioritise the digitising of the negatives. The result of this work will be a public website with selected images in a good enough resolution to aid research.

Brigitte hopes to do this work with the help of groups of specially trained local volunteers, and she may be turning to the Lewes History Group to ask for volunteers.

Exhibitions in Lewes

In October, Brigitte and colleague Matt Haycocks will be curating an exhibition of images from the Reeves archive for the Brighton Photo Biennial 2014, titled Stories Seen Through a Glass Plate.

Archive images will be displayed as light boxes in fifty shop windows along Lewes High Street, near to the location where they were originally taken. The historical images will be juxtaposed with the present townscape, and will bring the work to a wider public. This ‘outdoor’ exhibition will make a trail from Lewes railway station up Station Street to the bottle neck and down to the bottom of Cliffe.

In addition, there will be exhibitions at the Reeves Studio and the Barbican House Museum, organised with Emma O’Connor, Curator of the Sussex Archeological Society.

There will be maps and information available from the Tourist Information Centre, and Viva Lewes is planning a special issue on photography to coincide with these exhibitions.

The event runs from 4th October until the 2nd November.


Parade of trade vehicles in Lewes High Street c.1922 (Image at the BPB website)

Family activity day at The Keep archive

This will be a fun free family event with a heritage twist through the Mass Observation Archive based at The Keep archive in Brighton. Information below and available via form attached.

There are further free events the same week, which also form part of the free and accessible Heritage Open Days events nationwide.


Family activity and tour of The Keep

1-3pm, Saturday 13th September

This September, come and discover the Mass Observation Archive at The Keep. Through a specially designed drama workshop and a guided tour, you’ll explore original archive materials, learn about conservation and have the opportunity to participate in Mass Observation style activities.

Location: The Keep, Woollards Way, Brighton, BN1 8BP

Suitable for the whole family, especially children age 7-11.

FREE but booking essential via: 01273 482349  or http://www.thekeep.info/events

 FREE Family activity and tour of The Keep 130914pdf


Heritage Open Days is on it’s way!

HOD2_MB_RGBHeritage Open Days: Join the Celebration!

Strike a Light is taking part this year on Thursday 11th September at Fabrica in Brighton.

It’s all free so come and join in!

Towers and tunnels, factories and follies, chapels and synagogues – thousands of England’s most unique and undiscovered historic sites will be throwing open their doors for free in September, as Heritage Open Days celebrates its 20th anniversary.

“2014 is a landmark year for Heritage Open Days,” says Loyd Grossman, Patron of Heritage Open Days and Chairman of the Heritage Alliance.  “Over the last two decades we’ve enabled millions of people to visit thousands of places that are normally closed to the public, helping to put local heritage at the forefront of community life throughout England. This summer we’re looking forward to our most spectacular festival ever – a unique national celebration that brings our hidden history to life.”

The four-day festival promises a more diverse array of events than ever before, ranging from 1950s tea-dances to Elizabethan garden parties.  Join guided walks, visit secret archives, discover hidden works of art – or simply pack a picnic and soak up the sunshine in a garden of your choice.

Join the Celebration: Thursday 11 – Sunday 14th September www.heritageopendays.org.uk

My Robot Companion -Brighton Digital festival

Following on from last year’s showing of  Robot and Frank at Fabrica – The event My Robot Companion organised by Lorenza Ippolitio on the 3rd of September is part of the Brighton Digital Festival.

It is an event organised with an older audience in mind and is a moment to reflect on technology and it uses.



My Robot Companion – An Afternoon with HARR1

3rd September 2:00-3:00pm

Older Audiences, Technology and Conversations
Fabrica Gallery, 40 Duke Street, Brighton

FREE – and Refreshments Provided.

Now in its third year, the BDF conversation event aimed at older audiences will look at the world of robotics and consider what the future might hold for us.

HARR1 (Humanoid Art Research Robot 1) is part of an art project entitled “My Robot Companion” by Anna Dumitriu and Alex May, made in collaboration with the University of
Hertfordshire’s Adaptive Systems Research Group.

The project is an artistic investigation of contemporary scientific research in the field known as social robotics, a field that looks at the possibilities of building robot companions for a range of uses such as robot carers for older people, robot nannies to watch over children, sexual companions, and home defence robots. It is important to bear in mind that the word ‘robot’
derives from the Slavic word ‘robota’ meaning forced labour.

The project asks the questions, do we want and need robot companions? And, if so, what kinds of robot companions do we, as a society, want? HARR1’s presence in the gallery raises interesting questions about the uses and functions of robots and explores the ethical implications of how robots could be used in the future in a range of social settings.

How would you feel about a robot caring for you? How do you imagine a future where your relatives would be cared for by robots? Will robots aid or increase feelings of loneliness?

Join Lorenza Ippolito, Anna Dumitriu and Alex May to investigate the philosophical and practical questions behind robotics.


World War I East Sussex

Strike a Light found this great website resource earlier called World War I East Sussex, cataloguing all memories and images relating to the centenary of the Great War, in East Sussex. The following text on ‘Conchies’ in Sussex is really quite fascinating to read:

logoConscientious Objection in Sussex

Whilst recruitment and conscription saw many East Sussex men enter the ranks of the British Army some resisted service on grounds of conscience or religion.

First World War recruitment, which was built upon popular support largely peaked in the early months of the war in 1914. Propaganda posters and appeals to men’s patriotic instincts worked well but only to a point. The losses of men at the front either wounded or killed necessitated a constant stream of replacements and reinforcements.


Before the war, Britain had been unique in the main European nations in that the armed forces had been made up of professional soldiers or volunteers with no compulsory military service. By 1916, this was no longer sustainable.

The Military Service Act of 1916 was not as simple as is now believed but, in essence, meant that every unmarried or widowed man between the ages of 19 and 40 was now eligible to be conscripted into the British Army. The provisions of the Act would change several times over the duration of the war so that, by 1918, it covered married men between the ages of 18 years 6 months and 50 years old.

Whilst it was late in introducing conscription to the population, Britain further differed from the other nations by recognising Conscientious Objection as a legal way to be exempt from military service. Conscientious Objection was not the only method available for being granted an exemption. Men could also go before Military Service Tribunals on the grounds of ill health, work of national importance, or domestic hardship. In fact, Conscientious Objectors made up only a tiny fraction of those who came before the tribunals but were often among those most harshly treated as they often reflected wider public opinion as to the apparent cowardice or lack of character of the men. In total 16,000 men applied for exemption on the grounds of Conscientious Objection across the total span of the war. They represented 0.33% of those who fought. More British soldiers died on the First Day of the Somme than attempted to claim absolute Conscientious Objection during the entire war.

 Letter from the Sussex Military Tribunal regarding a Conscientious Objector. East Sussex Record Office, The Keep

Claiming Conscientious Objection

To claim exemption on the grounds of conscience men often had to prove that they did indeed hold such a belief and it could be evidenced from before the war. If successful, men would be offered the option of undertaking some form of alternative work of national importance to the war effort but not requiring them to actively serve. These ‘alternativists‘ would carry out work such as farming, industry, or stretcher-bearing for the duration of the war. Those who refused any form of service, the ‘absolutists‘ were often imprisoned and risked being sentenced to death. Although no death sentences were carried out on Conscientious Objectors a number did die in prison and elsewhere because of the harsh conditions to which they were subjected.

A group of ‘alternativist’ Conscientious Objectors were put to work building roads near Seaford where a Sussex soldier wrote to his wife in 1917 about how men in the army treated those Conscientious Objectors:

They all were allowed leave at Easter and Xmas and get real good food. Don’t you think its rather unfair to us fellows? We often march past them and pass a good deal of comments etc; some-times there is a “rough-house” ending in a few C.O’s being badly “mauled” and a few of us chaps escorted back to the Guard-room and then punished “C.B. etc”. This is an everyday occurance [sic].

Earlier in 1916, those same Conscientious Objectors had been the subject of an arson attack by Canadian soldiers when the hut in which they were sleeping was tarred.

 Letter from the Sussex Military Tribunal regarding a Conscientious Objector. East Sussex Record Office, The Keep

The Military Service Act did work in allowing Britain to field a larger army. The recruitment statistics for before and after its inception are almost identical with 2.46 million men enlisting before January 1916 and 2.5 million afterwards.

Whilst Conscientious Objection is seen as being a particularly First World War issue, numbers actually dramatically rose for the Second World War with over 60,000 men claiming for an exemption from service on the grounds of their conscience.


Blighty: British Society in the era of the Great War by Gerard DeGroot

Sussex in the First World War by Keith Grieves

The Last Great War by Adrian Gregory

East Sussex Record Office, The Keep

National Life Stories oral history fellowship

This looks like a really good possibility for those of you working in the field of oral history or wishing to use oral histories in research or work:
6a00d8341c464853ef01538ec13fae970bNational Life Stories, the oral history charitable trust based at the British Library, is pleased to announce that applications are now open for the National Life Stories Goodison Fellowship 2015.  The aim of the Fellowship is to increase public knowledge and awareness of oral history, particularly of the National Life Stories collections.

This award of £5,000 is open to anyone resident in the United Kingdom who wishes to use the National Life Stories oral history collections to reflect on life stories and memory, and share the results of their research in the public domain.

The National Life Stories Goodison Fellowship will provide the recipient the time and space to listen in-depth to oral history material from across the collections. The award holder will become the Goodison Fellow for a period of three to six months, subject to agreement with the Awarding Panel. The Fellowship must commence in the period 1 January 2015 – 1 August 2015 and finish by 31 December 2015.

For more information and application details visit www.bl.uk/nls-fellowship 

The closing date for applications is 1 October 2014 at 5pm.

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