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
Brian Barnes MBE made his mark on London, and his native Battersea in particular, as both an artist and community activist. Whilst some of his most iconic murals have been lost, many remain and continue to brighten the urban streetscapes they occupy. These include Nuclear Dawn (1981) in Brixton and the Stockwell Memorial (2001). Sadly, Brian passed away in November of last year (2021). To celebrate his work we will be releasing a series of short films featuring Brian talking about his process and the political impulse that shapes his work.
Spectacle filmed many interviews with Brian Barnes over the years covering both his art and activism. The first of our films on Brian Barnes was filmed by students on one of Spectacles training courses. It features Brian discussing the his Stockwell Memorial mural and can be seen in full here:
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.
It has been great spending the last 2 intense years developing remote online workshops, training courses and Participatory Video projects, sharing our expertise in video making and collaborative work with dozens of passionate anthropologists, researchers, journalists, academics and aspiring filmmakers from all over the world.
We learned a lot and developed a very effective online training programme including 7 courses, all structured in a sequence of modular live 3-hour zoom sessions scheduled to work across a variety of time zones (15:00-18:30 London time, including breaks). Our online programme will continue, allowing people living on most of the planet to attend our courses. We are also excited to meet in person with our trainees, as we have been used to do for over 10 years, offering again the option to share video tools in a practical face-to-face learning experience.
The new 2-Day Video Production Workshop
The in-person 2-Day Video Production Workshop is an intensive course covering in two days all the content of the first 4 sessions of our online courses. Participants will learn how to use various types of cameras and professional sound equipment, how to film high quality video interviews and collect engaging visual stories and impactful video documentation.
The workshop will run at our London Studio in Battersea (SW11), giving participants the opportunity to learn using a range of professional and semi-professional film equipment – DSLRs, camcorders, grip equipment, professional sound recorders and microphones – during the practical shooting exercises. The In-person Video Production Workshop is also a perfect opportunity for those who attended our online programmes to refresh their skills in a fun, practical and intensive 2-day stand alone course.
Integrated with our online Video Training programme
The in-person workshops integrate flawlessly with all the online courses we already have. All our courses will be scheduled so that participants can choose their favourite mode of attendance: entirely online or a mix of in-person and online. Participants can learn the camera techniques face-to-face in our 2-day Video Production workshop (replacing the first 4 online sessions at no cost) and then attend all the specialist webinars and the video editing part (online sessions 5-8) remotely. If travelling to our studio is not practical, you can still attend the whole course entirely online.
In order to give every participant a real hands-on experience and plenty of time for shooting exercises, our in-person 2-Day Video Production workshops will have a limited number of attendees.
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.
Spectacle is launching a new library of films on Vimeo on demand. This will allow viewers to rent all of our films relating to Guantanamo Bay and people’s advocacy work for those imprisoned there without trial. The collection includes the films Outside the Law: Stories From Guantanamo and Shaker Aamer: A Decade Of Injustice as well as short films on the various groups campaigning for Shaker’s release and never before seen interviews with politicians and campaigners including John MacDonald and Sadiq Khan. The library will be free to access for one month starting on the 6th of December to mark Human Rights Day (10th Dec).
After 20 years of protracted conflict and attempted nation building in Afghanistan, the Taliban are back in the seat of government. Politicians in the UK and America are scrambling to justify these 20 years: the lives lost and billions spent. In the midst of these speeches on noble intentions it is important to look back at the war on terror and remember the basis on which this war was waged.
It was a moment when the USA and its allies in NATO decided that human rights and habeas corpus were not in fact universal principles and did not apply to anyone deemed an “enemy combatant”. Moazzam Begg (a former detainee of Guantanamo Bay) summed up this thinking in a Q&A after a screening of Stories from Guantanamo with the George Orwell Quote: “we are all equal but some are more equal than others”. Everything was justifiable in the name of stamping out global terrorism. Innocent men from around the world were sent, not just to Guantanamo, but also Bagram prison in Afghanistan and other “black site” secret prisons, to be tortured and interrogated.
Spectacle has documented the story of the Guantánamo Bay Detention Centre and the wider context of extraordinary rendition and secret prisons that were central to Bush and Blair’s War On Terror in two separate films, available together here for the first time along with extras and archive materials.
Outside the Law:
Stories From Guantanamo and Shaker Aamer: A Decade of Injustice
Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” provides a
powerful rebuke to those who believe that Guantánamo holds “the worst of the
worst” and that the Bush administration was justified in responding to the
terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 by holding men neither as prisoners of
war, protected by the Geneva Conventions, nor as criminal suspects with habeas
corpus rights, but as “illegal enemy combatants” with no rights whatsoever.
The film is based around interviews with former prisoners including
Moazzam Begg and Omar Deghayes in his first major onscreen interview. The film
also contains interviews with lawyers for the prisoners, journalist and author
Andy Worthington, Guantánamo’s former Muslim chaplain James Yee, a London-based
Imam, and the British human rights lawyer Gareth Peirce.
“Outside the Law is a powerful film that has helped ensure that Guantánamo and the men unlawfully held there have not been forgotten”.
Kate Allen , director Amnesty International UK
Shaker Aamer: A
Decade of Injustice
This film was made to mark the 10th anniversary of Shaker
Aamer’s detention in Guantanamo Bay.
Shaker Aamer was one of the 171 men still held in detention
in Guantanamo Bay on the camp’s 10th anniversary. Despite never having had a
trial, having been approved for release twice, and there being a large campaign
supporting him, Shaker remained in detention until 2015.
During the 13+ years that Shaker Aamer was incarcerated in
Guantanamo Bay, he was never charged, and he has never denied his innocence. He
has continuously lobbied for the welfare of other Guantanamo inmates from
within the system. Many believe that this, and his potential as a witness to
U.S. human rights abuses, are the reasons he remained captive for so long.
Shaker Aamer was finally released from prison on 30th October 2015.
Our video library, containing all material produced by Spectacle on and with the Exodus collective, will be free to access from 10th December – 10th January. This includes both Spectacle produced TV documentaries: Exodus: Movement of Jah People and Exodus From Babylon along with extras and bonus material including an anti crack song and music video made by members of the collective with Spectacle and an appearance on Swiss youth culture TV show ZEBRA.
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.
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