Voices of the Old Print Works
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Voices of The Old Print Works
Voices of The Old Print Works explored voices of those who worked at JH Butcher & Co and lived in the surrounding communities.
Our main focus was on the memories and cultural tradition of a physical building. The Old Print Works is an imposing, intact Edwardian factory of architectural merit and listed grade II with many original features. The uses and traditions of the building have been brought alive through the oral histories, and now through the building's current uses, expanding on traditional methods of making from the past to show a more sustainable way of making things and living today.
We built a physical, multi-sensory timeline of the history of the building as an exhibition. In order to understand and bring alive the physical heritage of the building, we engaged and involved the local community through workshops. We interviewed people who worked in the building in the past at different times and in different roles in order to understand the nature of their work.
Exploring the way printing was undertaken and how it changed, workers' daily routines, the social life that existed around the Works, and how people felt, and how their lives changed, when it closed. These oral histories consisted of audio and audio-visual material which fed into the timeline. This important heritage was shared with the surrounding community, with young and old alike, and will continue to be available, along with artefacts donated, at The Old Print Works.
The Voices of The Old Print Works project was a collaboration between Articurate and Make It Sustainable Ltd.
Articurate is a non-profit organisation Limited by Guarantee. Our aims are focused on the search for site-specifics that are not solely off-site projects but also involved in the desires of the community, the space or both. We are particularly interested in spaces which are part of community heritage and we would like to create communication links between these spaces and their locals.
Make it Sustainable is a local charity whose purpose it is to reinvent ways to use space of local significance in the heart of the community, promoting local resilience and cooperation, and fuelling a creative, low-carbon economy through teaching, sharing and using making skills. It offers an historic, but bespoke, versatile and fun space at The Old Print Works building, in the heart of Balsall Heath. This space gives a vibrant community endless reasons to meet, learn, collaborate and grow.
The Library of Birmingham now holds the oral history archive from this project and you can visit and listen to the oral histories in full, which were conducted by Helen Lloyd.