School of Sociology and Social Policy

Timescapes: An ESRC Qualitative Longitudinal Initiative

Exhibitions

Over the course of the five years, Timescape teams received funding from the ESRC Festival of Social Science to organise a number of interactive exhibitions. In March 2008 projects 1 and 7 teamed up to invite members of the public to complete an online or hard copy postcard recording accounts of their relationships with their siblings. As well as collecting substantive data, the ‘ Our Sisters, Our brothers’ activity aimed to show the public the sort of research funded by the ESRC and the topics that academic family researchers may investigate. During the week-long exercise, public response far exceeded expectation: the teams received just under 800 postcards – a major achievement. As well as achieving the impact of public interest, further impact is possible through analysis of the postcards, which have been archived for re-use.

At the same festival in March 2008 a further event was held as a collaboration between the Young Lives and Times project (then funded under the Real Lives’ nodes of the NCRM) and one of our affiliated projects, Disability through the life course (Sonali Shah). The event brought the participants from project 2, Young Lives and Times, together for a public exhibition about their lives, displaying their own accounts and art work about growing up. They were also involved in a drama workshop to explore the changing identities of young people, and a video box recording of their evaluation of the event and their participation in a QL study. The event was held at the West Yorkshire Playhouse and was well attended by academics, members of the public, the young people in the study and their families.

In April 2009 projects 1 and 7 followed up their previous event, working with the Victoria and Albert Museum of Childhood in London on a ‘Family Albums’ weekend. This was designed to explore the place of sisters, brothers and other family members in children’s lives. Around 1500 visitors to the Museum visited a poster exhibition of findings from the ‘our Sisters and Brothers’ postcard activity (see above), with 130 or so taking part in workshop activities drawing on the research, that were run by community artists and storytellers. This achieved the impact of public interest from children as well as adults. The Siblings exhibition boards were also included in the Open University’s 40th Anniversary Open Day, when visitors were asked to take part in a ‘family tree’ activity. The interactive events generated accounts of sibling hood for the BBC Memoryshare site.

In March 2010 a fourth festival event and interactive exhibition, called Family Lives and Turning Points, was held in an exhibition space in London over a two day period, and then transferred to the Parkinson Court at the University of Leeds. The event showcased data in the Timescapes Archive on biographical turning points, with further accounts elicited from people in the local community. It was attended by over 100 people in London and well over 200 in Leeds, and generated over 50 accounts of turning points in people’s biographies. Feedback was excellent.

Our final festival event (Family Lives over Time, October 2011, Leeds City Art Gallery), showcased the work of Timescapes, the network of projects and data in the archive, with specially prepared exhibition boards. Data from related archives – including Mass Observation - were also included. In addition, a session on constructing family histories was organised by the local history society. The day was very well attended with excellent feedback.

© Copyright Leeds 2011