I was commissioned by Tamar Valley A.O.N.B. (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) as part of CORDIALE, an EU funded project to explore regional identity and develop community resilience in relation to resource depletion and the changing climate in 2012.
Diarykeepers is a participatory project that connects community on either side of the Tamar River in Cornwall and in Devon and draws inspiration from the handwritten diaries of market gardener Joseph Snell. Between 1914 and 1938, local resident Joseph Snell kept a daily handwritten diary. The entries give a fascinating, personal account of valley life including everyday incidents, marking the changing seasons, leisure, his work as a grower as well as touching on wider world issues. Each of his diary entries is very short – one or two sentences, and many have a poetic directness and striking simplicity.
The Diarykeepers project asked “What is it like to live now?” by inviting local people of all ages to keep a short daily diary for the month of June . People took part via twitter, email or by picking up a hand-made diary from local shops, pubs and post offices. 90 diaries from were returned and five schools in the area also took part. I invited Ruth Ben-Tovim to co-devised a performance installation with me, drawing out themes from both the June 2012 diaries and Joseph Snell’s diaries.
We created a temporary performance and installation in a large disused greenhouse and packing shed and local Diarykeepers worked with us to animate the installation with their own and others stories. Visitors were invited to tour the performance and experience the installation in small groups.
The Diarykeepers project is archived in Calstock Parish Archive. To see a short film created about the project click here.