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