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The Workhouse Network Commission
Google Arts & Culture, Online, Worldwide
I was commissioned by The Workhouse Network to create a digital museum experience that connected audiences to archival research with contemporary resonance.
The audio and animation work I made mixed past and present encounters of each of the six workhouses involved.
Del’s response to Louisa’s life

More Than Oliver Twist

The research process was part of a longer project (entitled More Than Oliver Twist) that aimed to demystify archival research processes and shift public attitudes to poverty in the past.

Google Arts & Culture exhibition

I collaborated with Mel Rye Illustration to develop The Google Arts & Culture platform that hosts the exhibition.

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Bob’s response to Levi’s life

The Workhouse Network and Oral History

I worked with researchers from each of the 6 Workhouses in the Network to create narratives from the archival material they had discovered and presented these as 6 different radio show phone-in stories.

Serving as a narrative vehicle and symbolic metaphor for the historical and social power of oral traditions, the radio device also reminds us that the past is never truly disconnected from the present.

Radio show narrative device

The familiarity of the radio show format supports the aim of increasing public empathy and understanding of how multilayered, complex and relatable the experiences of the people referred to as paupers were.

In addition to transmitting intended messages, Radio waves are also a very tangible connection to and record of human history. In a poetic sense they contain the breath of our ancestors and traces of the people who came before.

Engaging with the biographies this way helps us to reflect on social narrative, social structures and social change today.
Helen on researching Benjamin’s life

People’s perspectives

The People’s Perspectives feature the responses of people in the present who were invited to reflect on historic stories that resonate with their own lived experiences in some way.

The Researcher’s Voice

The Researcher’s Voice features representatives from the six different research teams and explores the skills and knowledge they developed working on the biographical content.

The audio recordings explore and document the emotive power of storytelling in a very poignant sense.
Frankie’s response to Stephen’s life

Audience empathy

I recorded the audio during the Covid 19 pandemic and national lockdown. This was arguably a time of heightened national empathy for people surviving ill health, for incarcerated people and for people subjected to economic marginalisation.

MTOT Google Arts & Culture visuals

The visuals on the site were made by Mel Rye Illustration and the photographs featured come from the 6 different workhouses in the network.

Mel Rye Illustration