TOUCHING THE PAST
HAWTHORN DENE HERITAGE PROJECT
The Barn collaborated on this project with Amber filmmaker Ellin Hare and the AmberSide Education Unit.
The project, lead by photographer Sharon Bailey and artist Nicola Balfour ran over a year with the Easington Guides and Brownies, the National Trust rangers, Easington Colliery Heritage Group and local residents taking part. It resulted in a film , Touching the Past, an Exhibition of the girl’s photography and several celebratory events where the participants and members of the public met and enjoyed sharing the memories evoked.
‘Touching the Past’ is a record of the children's journey of discovery and their engagement both with the landscape and social history of Hawthorn Dene but also their connection with older people in their community who brought knowledge and personal memories of the life of the Dene over the last 100 years. This journey was very much led by the children's curiosity and imagination. The film captures this from the very start as the children explore the wild wooded valley with no prior knowledge, coming upon mysterious remnants of the past which trigger their imagination and questions. These questions are gradually answered in the course of the project through their interaction both with the community members and the National Trust guides and through the use of Archive photographs and maps. A highlight was when one of the families discovered their great, great, great Grandfather had lived in one of the cottages in the Dene.
The project was funded by Heritage Lottery Fund, County Durham Community Foundation, Seedbed Trust and the National Trust.
A fund was set up after the project to help purchase digital SLR cameras for the Brownies and Guides so that they could continue their photographic development.