Here are just a few of the responses received after the More Than Oliver Twist Networking Event. And with plenty more jubilant and praising testimonials received, I cannot help but feel the event was a roaring success. Hosted by Nottingham Trent University, the day brought together volunteers, regional mentors and staff members from all six of our participating regional sites for the first time. The overwhelming sense of being part of a bigger project was what many came away with – volunteers from all corners of the country mingled with like-minded individuals involved in the project, sharing their initial discoveries, snags and successes.
A key part of the day was a well-received session delivered by Duncan Grewcock, Principal Lecturer in Museums and Heritage Studies at Nottingham Trent University. An enlightened presentation, Duncan helped volunteers to explore the creative approaches to interpretation and curation that could be applied to the More Than Oliver Twist project. Taking us through a plethora of curatorial techniques, from the creative use of film and sound, to considering the use of space and scale, the audience were visibly stirred and inspired by the possibilities for the final exhibition, with a final open-table discussion raising evocative questions concerning the politics of interpretation amongst others.
Bringing the day to a close, Jan Overfield Shaw, Creative and Community Officer for The Workhouse, Southwell, delivered a poignant presentation exploring interpretation within workhouse settings. The session was emotionally charged and challenged our volunteers by drawing parallels between the antiquated and problematic definitions used in the 19th century and the very labels we use today to categorise and control members of the public. By confronting us with the stark reality of social welfare then and now, Jan brought to light the essential need to discuss contemporary issues of social welfare throughout the project and final exhibition.