Another Time, Another Place, 2013
Book, exhibition, films, events
This year long project explored what it was really like to be evacuated as part of Operation Pied Piper during the Second World War, through the shared stories and experiences of those directly involved. In the summer of 1939, over 3.5 million people were evacuated from the West Midlands and other parts of the UK at risk of aerial bombing. Most were schoolchildren separated from their parents and accompanied by a small army of guardians – 100,000 teachers. From that day to this, a common experience among families, shared across generations and across cultures, is the journey to another place, seeking safety in a new life whether because of conflict, political or economic reasons.
Using writing, visual art and film, Year 6 pupils from Bluecoat Junior School in Walsall explored the stories and journeys made by families from and to the West Midlands, in times of conflict and social change from the Second World War to the present day. The children interviewed evacuees about their experiences and explored stories with parents and many other individuals who have left their homeland because of conflict or for political or economic reasons – hearing personal stories from many diverse places, from Bosnia, Poland, Africa, the Indian sub-continent. They were able to embed these stories within the broader contexts of time and place by research in local history archives, and by sharing the work in progress through public events – open days at the school, a local church and a pop-up shop in the local town centre with a mini vintage cinema.
The project culminated with the publication of a book, along with a learning pack, a series of short films, an archive DVD of oral history interviews and a touring exhibition of customised suitcases, first shown at Wolverhampton Art Gallery.
Supported by The Heritage Lottery Fund, The Garfield Weston Foundation, The Mercers’ Company and The Rowlands Trust.