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Students as cultural creators: University of Plymouth media arts and sociology students collaborate in award-winning project

A project that has seen students helping to capture the rich heritage of a unique corner of Cornwall has won two national prizes for community impact.

Maker Memories is a community-led research project which is capturing the socio-cultural value and varied past of Maker Heights in south east Cornwall.

The site, on the Rame Peninsula, started life as a military base, but from the 1920s to the early 1980s many people attended the camp thanks to a scheme established by the MP Nancy Astor for ‘deprived city children’.

Its more recent history includes the stories of hundreds of musicians who have played at the venue, the thousands of festivalgoers attending the annual music festival that started in 1999, and the large numbers of artists and musicians who have had studios at the camp. Maker has also hosted thousands of holidaymakers visiting the campsite over the years.

Maker Memories is supported by Maker with Rame Community Interest Company (CIC) in partnership with The Box, Plymouth. Lecturer in Sociology Dr Lyvinia Elleschild is a member of the CIC and the project’s Research Director, and the link with the University has meant students from BSc (Hons) Sociology and BA (Hons) Media Arts have been able to play vital roles in recording stories, and using their creative skills to present them in varied and engaging ways. Students from Plymouth College of Art and Lecturer Billy Abbott have also contributed to the project.

University media arts students worked with Fotonow CIC on a collaborative module culminating in a city centre event, ‘Journey to Rural Nostalgia’ that included a mini Maker Festival and Big Screen film showreel of their work. Students from both courses interviewed and filmed people of all ages, and contributed to the project’s community events.

Now Maker Memories has been recognised with two prizes from the Community Archives and Heritage Group (CAHG). Dr Elleschild, The Box Engagement Officer Tony Davey and community researcher Chris Ayre were invited to the CAHG Annual Conference at the Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow to collect the Best Overall Community Archive Award 2019, as well as the prize for Best Community Engagement.

The awards, which are extremely competitive and receive nominations from across the UK and Ireland, were presented by Dr Nick Barratt, author, heritage expert, TV genealogist and member of the CAHG committee. 

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