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.
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.
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.
The Lottery funding has allowed us to re-start the Silwood Video Group, initially in an online setting through an archive-based film project.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Spectacle has a long history of establishing and supporting participatory community media workshops and a large number of our productions have adopted participatory video (PV) techniques and ethos, resulting in an excellent track record of high quality, award-winning TV documentaries, short films and powerful campaigning videos. We are happy to inform everyone interested in applying a participatory media approach into their community based projects, that it is now possible to share Spectacle’s experience taking part in our Participatory Video Workshop (PVW).
Spectacle has made extensive use of Participatory Video as a successful strategy to involve communities in production processes, allowing people to produce knowledge about themselves rather than being represented – and often misrepresented – by outsiders.
Recently one of the films that Spectacle produced through participatory techniques has been re-screened on the Pepys Estate: “Poverty and the Media: the tower”. The film shows the way in which local residents have felt misrepresented by the BBC ’s program The Tower: A Tale of Two Cities. The BBC’s program intended to document the transformation of the Lewisham council estate into a chic development and the alleged clash between rich newcomers and poor long term residents. Spectacle, was commissioned by the Rowntree Foundation to develop a participatory video project in the Pepys and other estates in the area: “Poverty and participation in the Media“. At the time the BBC project begun, Spectacle was already organizing video workshops that focused specifically on the way mainstream media (mis)represent poverty. In our film Pepys residents have filmed each other while commenting on the effects the BBC’s program had on their lives. Spectacle’s “Poverty and the media: the Tower” illustrates the advantages of a participatory approach, highlighting the local dynamics in a way that is factually accurate and respectful of people’s feelings, intentions and views on the world they experience.
Following the very positive feedbacks from residents and in order to meet the growing demand from community based researchers to be trained to lead participatory projects, we are happy to inform you that we are now offering a Participatory Video Workshop (PVW). Our PVW is addressed to social workers, NGOs’ and charity organization’s staff that are engaged in community development and empowerment, artists and, in general, anyone who wants to integrate participatory methods in their own projects. Based on our long experience, the PVW will provide you with practical and transferrable knowledge on video techniques, and train you on how to engage your stakeholders in participatory productions.
The PVW is designed as 3 day immersive experience that will allow you to use participatory methods in documentation, evaluation and research. If you and your staff are particularly interested in specific topics, we are happy to bring our workshop to you and tailor it to your specific needs.
Please, find here our workshop description or get in touch for further information.
Spectacle’s latest inter-generational film workshop took place at the Silverlock Center on bank holiday Monday and saw children and adults from the surrounding communities come together to learn about and discuss the history and social issues of the local area. Through workshops they were enabled to film one another in an interview style regarding their feelings concerning the estate and how it has changed within their life-times.
Children interviewing a parent at the workshop
Thanks to all who attended for their interest, support and contribution to what was an insightful and rewarding day.
You can support our work by ordering Silwood related books, maps, dvds and prints from Spectacle’s Shop.