Creative Voucher Scheme
New Media Networks and Birkbeck, University of London
Karen Merkel & Akim Mogaji, New Media Networks
Professor Ian Christie, Birkbeck, University of London
The World In A Cube
Having gained the license to the Tate & Lyle archive Karen Merkel and Akim Mogaji, from New Medium Networks, paired with Professor Ian Christie of Birkbeck University of London in order to increase the archive’s visibility and create real public access. Tate & Lyle’s archive consists of 300 films, from the 1950s and 60s, that detail the global network of sugar production and in particular activities from the company’s refinery on the Thames in East London.
Assuming a ‘action research’ approach the collaboration worked to digitise four films from the archive and subsequently discussed them in focus groups. In total 44 people contributed to the research via focus groups, including historians, Tate & Lyle employees and members of communities in East London. Three research session were organised at Tate & Lyle Sugars’ Thames Refinery in Silvertown:
History Focus Group Meeting – 7 June 2013
Community Focus Group Meeting – 14 June 2013
Tate & Lyle Workers Focus Group Meeting – 24 June 2013
Alongside archival activities The World In A Cube organised a creative challenge open to audio-visual practitioners under 30 years old. Participants were invited to a film-screening / workshop event to familiarise themselves with the material, then given a month to create a three-minute response. Submissions were judged by a panel from the British Film Institute alongside individuals from Birkbeck and New Media Networks, £200 was awarded to the winner team, £150 for second place. In total 12 new and emerging film-makers took part in the challenge.
The project culminated in a event at Birkbeck Cinema on October 10th 2013, films from the Tate & Lyle archive and new work from the competition were screened, a brief presentation was made and a reception hosted. A video documentation of the project was also produced.
Tate & Lyle Community Affairs Manager Ken Wilson spoke of the project saying that it “has been fascinating, and has opened our eyes to the history of Tate & Lyle Sugars. In particular, the film called Attitudes stands out. It shows the stark difference between workers and managers back in the 1970s. When we showed the films at the refinery, there was real interest from the employees – at all levels of the business.”
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