Inclusive. Interactive. Imaginative
Big Blue Fence Project
- 18th December 2009
The Big Blue Fence Project explored and shared the heritage of our Olympic boroughs over the last 60 years - from the London Olympics in 1948 to the upcoming London 2012 Olympics.
The Big Blue Fence Project worked with communities in the areas of Hackney, Waltham Forest and Newham which border the 2012 London Olympic site - an area that is in the process of massive and long-lasting change.
The project gave people living next to the Olympic site the opportunity to record stories, develop creative ideas and express their views about living in the area and the changes that have taken place.
The Big Blue Fence Interactive Installation
The Big Blue Fence Interactive Installation was a scale model based on a section of the original 2012 Olympic site fence and showcased the work of the Big Blue Fence Project. Changes that have taken place over the last 60 years were captured in stories, pictures and memorabilia. Within the installation, boxes could be opened to reveal fascinating insights into the past.
In Newham, we creatively explored local stories reflecting historical changes and current aspirations relating to in employment, school life and family relationships. In doing so we have worked with the following groups :
Year 6 pupils from Upton Cross Primary School; The Swift Youth Club; Plaistow and West Ham New Deal for Communities History Group; Year 7 & 8 pupils from Eastlea Community School; E13 Learning Community; Anchor House Hostel Homeless Group, Community Links contacts, Age Concern contacts
In Waltham Forest, we worked with Tiger Class (Year 4) pupils from George Mitchell Primary School in Leyton.
Big Blue Fence takes a curtain call
By Penny Cliff
Writer in Residence, Immediate Theatre
The BIG BLUE FENCE project came to a fun end on 18 June 2010 with a party at the Grassroots Centre in West Ham Memorial Park. We were delighted to be invited to hold the event in such an exciting and beautiful venue. Grassroots Centre is rich in interesting spaces, inside and out – they have a playground, a garden and an amphitheatre set in a peaceful park – with historic links to West Ham Football Club.
It was fantastic to celebrate with guests from all three boroughs who’d been involved – including participants from Gainsborough School, the Good Companions, Upton Cross School, Eastlea School, Good Life Club, members of staff from Sanctuary Housing Association, Community Links, Immediate Theatre, as well as many friends and family.
The Installation was brought from Stratford Library, where it had been on display to the public since March and set up in front of the Grassroots building for its final outing – the only time it had been shown out of doors. Tucked behind the Installation’s doors were the final collections of images, artefacts and sound, including new displays curated from workshop groups in Newham.
The area next to the BBF formed a perfect stage for actors from Eastlea and Upton Cross schools, who performed plays they had created in the workshop programme to an audience sat on the grass. Their plays dramatised stories about their schools in the past, particularly the 11 plus exam and punishments!
Inside in the spacious and airy cafe area was an exhibition reflecting the BBF project’s journey through three boroughs, including photos by Christopher Preston of the actual Big Blue Fence in 2007, photos of our story tellers and all the BBF venues, as well as a digital photo show.
A song and dance workshop led by Paul and Sara got everyone on their feet learning 60’s songs, followed by with those old-fashioned refreshments: cheese and pineapple cubes and cream soda. The kids showed they were brilliant at dancing as well as acting.
Excellent food and wine was served as speeches and thanks were given to all involved. We also gave everyone a copy of the BIG BLUE FENCE STORY as a souvenir.
A project about writing ends with - GRAFFITI! Any graffiti on the original Big Blue Fence was hastily scrubbed off: not the case with our BBF. Throughout the day guests were invited to grab a pen or chalk and graffiti the BBF with a word or two – tasteful of course! – about their experience of the project. Look at the photos to see the witty and fun comments. A shower didn’t stop play – we threw a tarpaulin over the BBF and plenty more writing went on.
It was a great day and a fitting end for an exciting, rich project which involved 100’s of participants and collaborators and 1000’s of public visitors. Many thanks to all who came, with a special thank you to Grassroots, which is a fantastic venue. Address: Grassroots Community Centre, Memorial Park, Memorial Avenue, London E15 3DB.
We are now working on BIG BLUE FENCE LEGACY
- The installation has now been dismantled for the last time! Much to the relief of the faithful and sturdy crew who worked so hard to construct it for each venue.
- Some of the boxes will be displayed in community centres by the groups – as a long term souvenir of the work and ideas they came up with.
- The project will remain alive here on the website. We are creating some new audio clips of participants talking about all kinds of topics from cinema and fun to bringing up children, memories of the past and much more.
- See the new photos in our gallery
- See the Storybook with lists of participants and details of the workshop programmes
- We are donating oral history recordings to each borough’s archives – watch this space for information about how to access them and the wealth of heritage material they contain.
Watch this space!
The Trees Are Still Standing is a short film we created exploring the urban and rural landscapes of Waltham Forest seen through the eyes of young people - it follows the pupils on a visit to Epping Forest and features poetry written in response to their trip.
Throughout January 2010, the film appeared daily on the BBC Big Screen in the heart of Walthamstow. If you weren't able to catch it on the Big Screen, watch the video below!
Listen to audio clips from our work in Hackney and Waltham Forest. Click on the links to find out more: