We are pleased to announce that we are meeting at the Lewington Community Centre (9, Eugenia Road, London SE16 2RU), on the Silwood Estate, on Monday May 23rd 2022 to watch with residents extracts from the Silwood Video Archive. The screening event will start at 6.30 pm and will be both live and online.
The event is open to anyone who lives or lived on the Silwood Estate, or is just interested in its history.
The Silwood video archive contains footage shot on the estate since 2001 to the present by Silwood residents and Spectacle, documenting the impact of the regeneration on the local community and everyday life and activities on the estate. Sections of this archive have been digitised and discussed with residents in online workshops as part of the Digitally Democratising Archives project, funded by the National Lottery and The Audience Agency.
It will be possible to attend the event remotely by joining this zoom link.
If you want to join the Silwood Video archive project and have access to future workshops and to the video archive, please sign up to the group by using this link
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.
Exploring the Archive
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We would like to thank The National Lottery and The Audience Agency for their support. The dedication of the Audience Agency team has been obvious and we hope to have the opportunity to develop this partnership.
Working with the Audience Agency’s Opening archive programme – Spectacle has been taking the time to explore our historical Silwood archive. One thing that we have recently started to focus on is the paper archive that is associated with the hours of videos of the Estate. These papers detail what is in the 200+ hours of footage, they show the themes that we were thinking about at the time, and include footage logs and shot lists.
Come explore the archive with us – everyone is welcome.
It’s so helpful to have this paper archive because it gives us a sense of what we will find in these tapes, without having to watch each tape individually. This gives us the ability to dig up the kinds of footage the members of our archive video group might want to see relatively quickly.
This archive sits in the cross digital-paper time, and leaves us pondering what it will mean for video archives of the future that might only have digital records. Will they be more or less fixed? At Spectacle this experience has made us think carefully about digital archive preservation!
We have a paper archive of the themes we have shot dating back 20 years.
We have still images of the estate dating back generations.
We are digging into the archive, we’d love you to join us! Sign up for updates, new archive releases, and to have a say in editing new material.
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.
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.
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.
All are welcome to join our Silwood Video Group – watch original archive – help select material for publishing-get involved in filming.
We are delighted to announce that this month we will be launching the SILWOOD VIDEO ARCHIVE PROJECT, an archive-based participatory film project.
This pioneering project will: digitise and upload archive video filmed with the Silwood Video Group for the public to watch; encourage community viewing and tagging; run a short series of participatory editing workshops for up to 20 participants; and produce a co-authored short film using Silwood archive footage.
Spectacle has 40 years experience in community-led filmmaking developing collaborative documentaries and participatory video methods. Spectacle’s Silwood archive has been created over 20 years of collaborative filming and video making at the Silwood estate on the border of Lewisham and Southwark in Southeast London.
For news and updates on the project – SIGN UP HERE, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Background: Spectacle and Silwood
In 2000 Spectacle’s founder Mark Saunders ran participatory workshops on the Silwood Estate in southeast London. He had been asked to work with residents for a few weeks – teaching them how to shoot video and maybe making a short film as part of the planned regeneration work in the area.
After a few months, the funding ended, but Spectacle never left. For twenty years the Silwood Community Video Group has been filming in and around the Silwood Estate, documenting daily life and changes created by regeneration.
The relationship between Spectacle and Silwood resulted in several short films, web clips for the Channel 4 series Unteachables, an ICA exhibition, as well as further exhibitions at the BOZAR – Centre for Fine Arts in Brussels. This work has been funded by numerous grants, including the INTERREG Apango project, and has brought skill training, jobs, and investment to the Silwood Community.
In 20 years, Spectacle has run hundreds of video workshops for participants aged from 8-80 from a wide range of backgrounds to tell their own stories. In that time Silwood Estate has undergone immense changes. Brutalist estate buildings have been razed, the community that lived there was scattered to other parts of London, and for those that remained the promises made to maintain community facilities have not been fulfilled. Filming continued every year until the pandemic hit in 2020.
The Archive Project
Understandably, the incredible volume of filming has generated a tremendous video archive – over 300 hours which Spectacle maintains.
With the support of the Audience Agency, we use online participatory editing tools to open this archive. We will invite the Silwood community to watch, comment on, and begin a participatory editing process which will draw out the story(ies) of Silwood.
This initial project will have three stages.
Spectacle will review the archive, edit selections, upload the archive to Vimeo. We will reach out through networks to the Silwood Community who will engage in tagging and providing metadata for the video archive. Spectacle will analyse this collection of notes, views, opinions, and responses to the archive footage.
After reviewing the community response, Spectacle will convene a group of up to 20 interested community members to participate in a series of collaborative editing workshops. During 6 workshops participants will develop a short (30 minute) film or several short (5 minute) film clips from the archive through a process of viewing, discussing, and suggesting edits. Between each session, Spectacle will implement the participants’ editing suggestions.
If the participants choose, there is the possibility of conducting Zoom interviews to collect oral histories and add current perspective on the material they are working with.
Once the participants have created the rough cut of the film, Spectacle will polish the material with a final professional edit including sound design, graphics, and adding any further images that might be needed. Stage three will culminate in a screening of the film for the community.
We are very excited that this project will allow us to make the Silwood archive accessible to the community for the first time and we envision it will enrich and sustain this 20 year collaboration.
Further, we hope that this project will be a springboard for the community and Spectacle to attract future funding to develop the project further both by exploring the archive in more depth but also running filming workshops inspired by the archives.
At the largest scale, we imagine that this project could serve as a reproducible pilot for the many UK communities who have experienced bombing, “slum clearance”, neglect and decline of 60s Brutalist housing estates, large scale decanting, dispersal, demolition and regeneration.
If you want to get involved SIGN UP HERE or email email@example.com
Jacqueline Willis Silwood resident and Ola Walker local youth worker expressed their frustration and hurt after L&Q housing association, current managers of the Lewington Community Centre, cancelled the youth club at short notice. The day before L&Q had cancelled the Zumba class again at very short notice, which sparked a resident sit down.
L&Q have a history of last-minute cancellations of community events including the residents’ Christmas Party. Fortunately, they were given permission to throw the Christmas party, but not without causing distress and anxiety to the community event organisers and the caterers. As the Christmas party drew nearer, they were still in the dark about the availability of the centre.
The Lewington Community Centre, promised under the regeneration of the Silwood estate to serve and be managed by the Silwood neighbourhood has become simply an “asset” of L&Qs portfolio of properties- it is rented out most of the time to Morley College.
These community events were cancelled at extremely short notice, just a few hours before the events were meant to begin. This was particularly unfortunate on the day that they were supposed to hold a youth club event for minors, as it posed a child protection issue when the building closed and they had nowhere to go.
L&Q offer no real explanation for the cancellations. They cite staff shortages but there is no reason for the community not to be keyholders. If they had been keyholders none of the events would have needed to be cancelled.
L&Q seem determined not to allow members of the community-led Lewington Community Centre Management Community (LCCMM) to be keyholders. Indeed L&Q appear to resist any attempt by the community to organise and run their own centre as they were promised they would under the Section 106 agreement. Before the “regeneration” of the estate the community happily and efficiently ran their own centre.
After a series of community events have been cancelled at short notice, when L&Q suddenly announced the Lewington Centre on the Silwood Estate would closed at 5pm- not the scheduled 9pm, it was the final straw, after 20 years of being excluded from their own centre.
Residents wanted to show that there were people who would be prepared to manage and close the building after 5pm. The women were resident community workers and representatives of residents and tenant groups.
Residents were not asked to leave by L&Q but soon after 5 the police were in the room.
This is not the whole story.
Since the building was open L&Q have resisted all attempts by the community to manage and use their own centre.
This sit down was not just about a zumba class being cancelled. It was the last straw in a 20 year struggle for the community to get the centre “regeneration” promised.
What Silwood residents had pre Regeneration: a mish-mash of community resources, youth clubs, a nursery, a creche, education and training facilities, clubs and groups, council supported and bottom up initiatives effectively run and organised by residents, paid or voluntary. Many were much loved by the community and the residents made the best of what little they had.
What they were promised, the justification for the entire regeneration scheme was a bigger, better, purpose built community centre and facilities.
What they have 20 years on is the “Lewington Centre.” A building L&Q run and refer to as an “asset” and a business. The centre is in fact let out to Morley College most of the week so it is not available for community use.There is nothing “purpose-built” about the Lewington Centre. With 25 flats above the main hall, occupied by key workers, some on night shifts, the building was never suitable for the kind of noisy social and community events like birthday parties, weddings. The acoustics have been a constant problem. Just a few teenagers playing table tennis made a deafening noise before expensive sound remediation.
L&Q insisted they had to build the flats above the centre to provide an income stream to make the centre sustainable. Its not clear why the flats needed to be physically located on top of the building given the huge amount of land L&Q were given in the regeneration deal. Without transparency and published accounts it is also not clear what this income, combined with the rental from Morley College and other private hires, is actually spent on. Do L&Q really need to charge the community to use their own hall for social and community events to “cover their overheads”?
The community want some very basic things so they can once again manage their own community resources:
Management of activities and social events at the community centre.
Before the “regeneration” of the Silwood Estate by Lewisham and L&Q in 2000 the residents successfully ran their own community centre and youth facilities- either voluntarily or employed.
These facilities, the youth club, cyber centre, community hall, under 5s etc were demolished and residents were promised a bigger and better purpose built “Community Centre” to not just replace but improve on what they lost. What followed was a systematic disempowerment of the community. What they got was the L&Q run “Lewington Centre”, a totally unsuitable building that residents struggle to access. L&Q sublet the building to Morley College which is of no benefit to the community and means the building is rarely available for residents to use.
On the 16th of September 2019, the Silwood community held a meeting to form the Community Centre Management Committee (CCMC). This meeting symbolises local people of Silwood wanting to come together to improve the facilities of the community and surrounding areas.
Historically, the residents successfully ran their own community centre and amenities. Sadly, under the regeneration of the estate, L&Q housing association took control of the new purpose-built community centre that was meant to not just replace but improve the facilities lost. Following the regeneration, L&Q then sub-let the centre to Morley College and the community has felt excluded ever since.
After years of frustration, the establishment of an independent CCMC means the whole community could have their voice heard. In the past L&Q have managed to make promises and not keep them to individuals without being made accountable but now with the strength of the committee, this will happen no more. A significant improvement for the community, as in the past, resident’s concerns about the management of the estate was falling on to deaf ears and there was no one to hold L&Q accountable to fulfil promises made.
Spectacle has been documenting the resident’s struggle since 1999 and continue to do so today. We believe that the injustice done to the residents is unacceptable. By setting up the Silwood video group to document and lobby for a meaningful regeneration, we are working with the community to help bring awareness to the mistreatment of Silwood residents.
The group has participated in workshops organised by Spectacle and filmed the consultative meetings so they have a personal record.
Rita Edmond, Community Develop Practitioner, in her interview, exclaims, “we stand together, and we fall together.” which is an attitude that currently illustrates the unity of the Silwood community and their hopes for the future.
Another interviewee, Pembe Kumbi, Local entrepreneur, said the community has lots of hidden young talent that will be expressed through the use of the community centre.
There is so much opportunity for Lewington Community Centre to become a hub for people to gather for youth groups and an assortment of classes. Joyce Jacca mentions all sorts of potential uses for the centre if it is allowed to be run by the locals.
This represents a whole new chapter in the Silwood story that goes to the heart of community empowerment and wellbeing.
Meeting between community steering group members and L&Q staff, chaired by Southwark Councillor Anood Al-Samerai (left). L&Q staff asked not to be filmed or photographed.
Major “Registered Social Landlord” of Silwood Estate (SE16), London & Quadrant’s ‘Media Centre’ have published a report on the re-launch of the Silwood Estate Under 5s playgroup, which omits many aspects of the story that we considered crucial to our report last week. L&Q’s alternative report portrays the company as having played a large part in saving the playgroup, neglecting to mention the eight month battle Silwood residents faced to secure the £11,500 of funding they have finally received, which is a one-off grant not expected to be renewed next year. Nor do L&Q mention that many believe the funding, and far more money, belong rightfully to the community, who were promised the Lewington Centre to replace their previous community building as a condition of the estates redevelopment, which began in the early 2000s.
At a meeting between L&Q staff and community steering group members last week, L&Q’s long-standing obligation to hand the building over to the community was reiterated by Southwark Councillor and leader of the Southwark Liberal Democrat group Anood Al-Samerai – who reminded those present that the centre should ultimately be run by a committee comprising predominantly local people working with a minority of L&Q representatives. Alarmingly, this was met with apparent confusion from L&Q staff, who, under their Section 106 obligations, are supposed to have been working towards this goal since the centre opened in 2009, if not before.
Among a slew of now-broken promises, Silwood residents were led to believe they would have at least priority access to the building, which in actuality was made unviable as a venue for many community events by apartments being built above the main hall. Large parts of the building are also regularly leased to a local college, making them unavailable to the community. As we reported, and L&Q failed to mention, money collected from the Lewington Centre flats each week was meant to be set aside for the community, to make up for the restrictions they impose on using the building. By the same logic, profit made on renting the space should be shared with the community, who are, after all, supposed to manage the building.
Instead of mentioning these things, L&Q appear to be trying to use the re-launch of the playgroup to promote themselves. They boast that, “Children and families in and around the Silwood Estate, Southwark, are celebrating the re-launch of their local playgroup thanks to the work of the Silwood Community Steering Group and an £11,500 grant from L&Q housing association.” They go on to describe themselves in favourable terms, as, “One of the largest housing associations in the capital,” owning “70,000 homes across London and the South East as well as being a leading residential developer of new and affordable homes.” The PR department seem oblivious to the fact that, given London property prices, £11,500 for a company that owns 70,000 houses doesn’t come across as an especially generous sum.
Karen Westbrook, Resident Services Manager for L&Q, concludes the ‘Media Centre’ article, saying, “Helping the Silwood Community Steering Group to re-launch a playgroup service was a great opportunity for us to step in and support the nearby community and L&Q residents of the Silwood estate.” This is an interesting take on what many would consider to be a story of community disempowerment, in which a resource has been effectively taken away from residents and then reluctantly lent back to them by L&Q after a long campaign and apparently in exchange for undeserved good PR.