The Silwood Archive isn’t just video…

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.

SIGN UP HERE

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. 

Cataloguing footage themes

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! 

Images of the catalog of Silwood Video Archive

We have a paper archive of the themes we have shot dating back 20 years.  

Images of the catalog of Silwood Video Archive

We have still images of the estate dating back generations. 

Scan of planning proposals
Paper archive includes fliers distributed by development groups.

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.

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.

The Silwood Video Archive Project

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.

The Silwood Video 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.

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 projects@spectacle.media.

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.

Stage 1

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. 

Stage 2

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.

Stage 3 

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. 

Impact

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 projects@spectacle.media

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.