Silwood Video Archive Project Update

Participatory Archive Video Project exploring the regeneration of Silwood Estate, Lewisham

Summary 

In March we have wrapped up the final stages of our Digitally Democratising Archives project, funded by the National Lottery and The Audience Agency. 

The aim of the project was to open the Silwood archive, for the first time since filming began, and to invite the Silwood community to watch, comment on, and hopefully begin a participatory editing process which will draw out the story(ies) of Silwood.

Our project has gone largely as planned. All the aspects of workshops that we envisioned have happened. Participants have enjoyed watching and discussing the archive. Rather than stopping after 6 workshops we decided to maximise momentum by running a workshop every week for the duration of the project.

Online archive based participatory video workshops

Outcomes

Exploring the Archive

From the Silwood Archive – Residents shooting on Silwood Estate during a workshop with Spectacle

As part of this project we digitised and uploaded 392 clips from the Silwood archive. These clips covered a variety of themes including: the destruction of the estate, location shots of buildings which no longer exist, planning meetings which showcased spaces and buildings which were never built, promises made and not fulfilled, the desire for a youth centre and community centre, fly tipping, poems, and interviews with former residents. 

Archive based participatory video, missing sculpture on Silwood Estate in Lewisham and Southwark

As part of the project Spectacle published a short edited video on the theme of the missing statue Neighbourly Encounters. This statue was made by the artist Uli Nimptsch and specially commissioned for the estate.This short film brings together interviews of the model for the statue, bringing a historian on to the estate to discuss the missing statue, and the community’s memories of the statue itself. It continues to be unclear when and why the statue was removed, and where it is now. 

Community Engagement 

This project had three levels of potential engagement. The most shallow level was through likes, views, clicks, engagement on social media, or blog posts. We regularly shared public updates about the project, and occasionally posted public edited clips or videos from the archive. At this level Spectacle’s posts on Facebook about the DDA project reached 1660 individuals and had a total of 456 engagements. This is an average of 138 reached, and 38 engagements per post. Public videos received a total of 427 views on Youtube. 

Youtube playlist of videos concerning Lewisham and Southwark Silwood Estate residents

The second level of engagement was through subscription. Each blog post offered the opportunity to subscribe to a mailing list to access the archive. 26 unique participants subscribed and were given access to the 392 never before seen clips from the Silwood Archive that were uploaded during the project. Between them these 26 participants generated 1,354 views of private vimeo videos from the Silwood archive. 

The third and deepest level of engagement was through participation in workshops to view, discuss, and make selections from the archive. A total of 10 participants participated in 17 workshops over the course of 4 months. 

A view of a visit to the Silwood Video Archive page

We received very positive feedback from participants. Participants remarked that they felt this archive was “vital to the history of their community.” There was great enthusiasm to share the archive with new or younger community members who would not be aware of the history of the estate. 

Spectacle Skills 

This project has been a useful opportunity to test and develop our cataloguing, digitising workflows and our archive-based participatory workshop model. 

We developed our archive-based participatory model to run online archive-based workshops using a variety of platforms, and found ways to teach participants to use these platforms effectively. Through this process we have developed our workflows and explored the best use of accessible digital tools. 

Through this process we have developed workflows to transfer archive footage from tape and other legacy formats (MiniDV, DVCam, DVDs) to digital, to be uploaded to online platforms. 

Image from the archive – residents edit footage shot in participatory video workshops

We have developed practices for platform sharing of video archives. We have learned how to organise clips so that the archive is easier to share with participants, and explored how to balance file-naming systems for archiving versus user-friendly labelling. 

Expanding the Archive 

Spectacle visited the Silwood estate on Monday the 29th of December and filmed locations and activities including ongoing construction, fly-tipping, the location where the youth club bus arrives, the new community garden, and general location shots around the streets of the estate. 

Adding to the archive – going back to shoot location views with Silwood Estate residents

This footage will be added to the archive as part of the ongoing documentation of the Silwood estate for the past 20 years during the regeneration of the area. 

Plans to Continue the Programme 

We plan to continue working with the Silwood community on the archive. We have been involved with the Silwood community for over 20 years, and that relationship is one we are eager to continue. 

A view of the Shard from Silwood Estate

Further, this experience has given us confidence to push forward and expand the model. We are eager to use this archive-based participatory model to explore some of our other archives, and the skills gained in this project are easily transferable. We are keen to continue running archive-based participatory workshops with various communities drawing on our numerous other video archives.

The Silwood Archive project is supported by The Audience Agency’s Digitally Democratising Archives project thanks to funding from DCMS and the National Lottery, as part of The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s, Digital Skills for Heritage initiative.


Silwood Video Group Activities

Filming in Silwood Estate

As part of our on-going Silwood Archive project, Spectacle has been hosting weekly meetings of the Silwood Video Group (SVG).  Often as SVG watches archive footage together themes emerge. In the past month these have included: youth clubs, community centres, fly-tipping, and the lack of a community centre, youth facilities, green space and communal areas on the estate. 

Youth facilities are lacking on Silwood Estate

The group wanted to film some locations  to accompany the themes that had been coming up in the meetings. Spectacle visited the Silwood estate on Monday the 29th of December and filmed locations and activities including ongoing construction, fly-tipping, the location where the youth club bus arrives, the new community garden, and general location shots around the streets of the estate. 

December streets in Silwood Estate

This footage will be added to the archive as part of the ongoing documentation of the Silwood estate for the past 20 years during the regeneration of the area. 

Silwood Community Garden is just beginning

All are welcome to join our Silwood Video Group – watch original archive – help select material for publishing-get involved in filming.

To join sign up for emails here.

SVG says Thank You Lottery!

We are delighted to announce that Spectacle CIC has received funding from the National Lottery Community Fund to restart the Silwood Video Group with an archive-based film project. 

Map of the Silwood Estate, from the archive

Since 2001 Spectacle has worked with the Silwood Community in Lewisham and Southwark setting up the Silwood Video Group. Spectacle has run over the years hundreds of video workshops documenting daily life and changes created by regeneration. The collaboration has resulted in many short films published in DVDs, added to a few web episodes in the Channel 4 series Unteachables, an ICA exhibition, as well as further exhibitions at the Musee du Beaux Arts in Brussels.

The National Lottery grant allows members of the Silwood community to gather together around the video documentation that has been produced during the regeneration of the estate, aiming to revitalize the Silwood Video Group and equip the community to make use of video archive and video tools to reflect on their own history and future. Spectacle is running a series of online workshops, watching back and commenting together on what were the issues documented by the Silwood Video Group in the early 2000s. The project culminates in a workshop on the Silwood estate to collect oral histories and reflect on how to use the video archive to support the local community. 

Community Video Work shop from the archive

The Project

The Lottery funding has allowed us to re-start the Silwood Video Group, initially in an online setting through an archive-based film project.

Workshops for SVG begin online

Putting the Silwood Archive online has been an aim for many years. Spectacle has been uploading archive selections for the community to watch and discuss online. If you want to watch the available archive, sign up HERE

Meeting every Thursday at 7, the SVG group watches selections from the archive and discusses the material, drawing out themes and topics of interest. If you would like to join this meeting, please sign up and we will send you the Zoom link. This is leading up to meeting in person with up to 12 participants to record oral histories in the community and add new perspectives on the archive. 

Our Archive-based video project aims to bring together a variety of different groups and generations of the Silwood Community to review and add new oral histories to the Silwood Video Archive. We hope participants will build community bridges, connect to the past, engage in creative practice, and learn filmmaking skills. 

From the Silwood Archive

We are very excited to be providing a space where isolated members of the Silwood Community can come together in a fun and educational environment to talk about history and film. 

Archive-based Participatory Film Projects 

Spectacle CIC is very excited about the tool of archive-based film projects. We see that they have the power to reduce loneliness by bringing people together, creating connection through shared creativity and learning, and anchoring residents within their own history. 


Silwood Community video workshops, from the archive

These workshops foreground the wisdom of an older generation that is too often sidelined and isolated, while also sparking the joy in technology of younger generations. They offer an outlet for art and creativity in connection with others, as well as skills for future employment.  It enable older community members to pass on knowledge to younger members or newcomers, and offer practical tech literacy and filming skills to participants. 

Silwood Video Group and the Future 

For 20 years, the Silwood Video group has built relationships across generations, ethnicities, and cultures through filmmaking. This extraordinary and unique group has been open to anyone in the community and in that time has benefitted approximately 200 people aged 6-70 constituting an unusually diverse range of people in terms of race and religious background. 

Silwood Community planning meeting, from the archive

Spectacle’s relationship with the Silwood community stretches back 20 years. Spectacle created the Silwood Video Group because the community wanted to have a voice in the proposed regeneration plans for their community. Placing the tools of filmmaking in the hands of the community empowered people to actively shape the future of their community through media activism.  

The idea for this archive project is based on the community’s desire to reconnect with the places that existed before the regeneration. Many are getting older, and they want to share their stories with their grandchildren. They also see it as a good opportunity to build connections with newcomers to the community who don’t know about it’s history. 

Walk through of Silwood construction site during regeneration process, from the archive

The Silwood Archive project is supported by The Audience Agency’s Digitally Democratising Archives project thanks to funding from DCMS and the National Lottery, as part of The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s, Digital Skills for Heritage initiative.