The Workshops: The Rifles Berkshire and Wiltshire Museum
Watch a short video about the National Memory – Local Stories workshops at The Rifles Berkshire and Wiltshire Museum (2:07)
The Participants from Avon Valley College, Salisbury
Avon Valley College is a very small rural school in the middle of Salisbury Plain near Stonehenge. The school is made up of 40% pupils from army personnel based in the area. The school’s Art department seeks, encourages and participates in as many ‘live’ briefs as possible. The creative work undertaken for National Memory – Local Stories was seen as one of the most exciting and prestigious projects the department had ever worked on.
At the outset of the project, three of the participants were from army families. As the workshops progressed, a number of the participants discovered other family links as well as some very personal history within the records at The Rifles Berkshire and Wiltshire Museum. This gave students a strong sense of connection to the project.
All eight students who participated National Memory – Local Stories were in Year 12.
The Participants from Bishop Wordsworth’s School, Salisbury
Bishop Wordsworth’s is an all boys school in Salisbury, an area known for its military connections, so participating in a project that focused on the First World War was already extremely relevant. However, when the students began to explore the objects in the museum, just metres away from the school's site, the experience inspired an even greater level of interest. As participants read about the conditions the servicemen had to endure they discovered personal connections to the school. They read diary extracts from Old Wordsworthians and then re-visiting the Chapel where they have weekly assemblies to read the list of names on the Roll of Honour. The students were particularly interested in having access to objects that are not usually on display, and examining the more personal items that they could connect with.
The nine participating students from Bishop Wordsworth’s School came from Year 11 and Year 13 and were all preparing for an Art qualification the following summer (GCSE/A-Level).
The Workshops at the Museum
The main collection resources for the workshops at The Rifles Berkshire and Wiltshire Museum were two personal diaries from Sergeant F. Mundy and Corporal G.C. Couldrey. As soldiers from Salisbury, the focus on their diaries emphasised the local dimension of the project. The diary entries related to both combat and personal experiences. The diarists’ comments and reflections included personal photographs taken by them during their time serving in Palestine.
Workshop participants also had access to and used many other objects from the Museum’s collection, and made use of these in their creative work.