Working with West Lothian Archive I developed a series of workshops which celebrated the history of Livingston and worked with participants to make new work to place back into the Archive. Taking archive images as a starting point, each of the four projects looked at a different theme. Braid Care Home chose to look at and discuss their working lives in Livingston and when they first arrived there compared to now. The Vennie skateboarding group chose to look at aerial images of early Livingston’s roadways to inspire new graphics for skateboards. The school projects deigned their own t-shirts to wear at the launch which were inspired by the public art of Livingston. The Youth Inclusion Project looked through old archive images of the councillors and youth groups in the area and chose to place themselves in these images (they recognised and liked the juxtaposition of a young person from now and how out of place they looked).
It is refreshing working with a group of older participants. It brings with it challenges “I’ve no’ got a creative bone in my body hen”, being the classic line. But assisting them in bringing their memories in to a creative realm is rewarding and it allows me to work at a slower pace and in some cases individually. I love listening to their stories of an area I know very well and am in awe of the men who helped build Livingston as they look through archive images pointing out which areas they worked in as brick layers, pipe fitters, builders and kerb layers.
The mood in the sessions is very jovial; sharing jokes and scandalous gossip of the Development Corporation. They bring in photographs of their history in Livingston and of the people important in their lives. I listen while they share these images with me and respond as to how we take these inspiring images in to their finished piece of work. They will be creating commemorative plates illustrating their lives in Livingston, and these will be exhibited in April at Howden Park Centre as part of the Livingston 50 celebrations.
Above is a photograph of ‘Alec’ holding a sea bass. Alec was one of the first businesses to set up in Livingston at Craigshill Mall. He had the fish shop. Alec will include this photograph on his memorial plate to symbolise his business in Livingston. He took home the sea bass to have for his tea…