Artifactual literacy: Every object tells a story. Dr Kate Pahl University of Sheffield. KP: And you also talked about an old suitcase?
Dr Kate Pahl
University of Sheffield
RK: Yes, mum’s, I do believe she has still got it I will ask her, I remember very vividly as a child this brown leather suitcase with all these labels on it, I assume they had labels at that time, they weren’t the kind you could take off, and mum saying dad had used it for several years and this is all the places he had gone to – I think she’s got it somewhere (Interview RK Rotherham, South Yorkshire)
AHRC ‘Diasporas Migration Identities’ grant
Partners: University of Sheffield, Sheffield Hallam, Creative Partnerships, Clifton Park Museum Rotherham, Rotherham Central Sure Start, Ferham School
Community: Ferham, focus on families of Pakistani origin
Outputs: ‘Ferham families’ exhibition and
Research project to develop family learning resource:Every object tells a story
Women’s art project, based at Rotherham Central Sure Start, a family learning project, recruited women from the community into the project, created art-work focused on identity and community, including self-portraits and mapping community
Visual artist, Zahir Rafiq, created website for schools and families with children, funded by Creative Partnerships
Ethnographic interviews in homes by researchers, Kate Pahl and Andy Pollard who also curated the exhibition
Exhibition created March – April 2007
Gold (gold spray, jewellery, cloth)
Textiles (sewing machine, cotton, clothes)
Travel (shoes, Pakistan, migrations)
Family values (Koran, glass mosque)
Toys (children’s including Action man)
Growing up in Rotherham (photo boards and home background with family trees)
Weddings (case with wedding dress, textile case)
RK … they always had China on them and they had embroidered clothes and they had one of those lace cloths, like in Victorian times.
Researcher: A doily?
RK: Yes, we had china on that traditionally, to put them on. I don’t recall mum having a doily when she came to England (laughs).
Zahir: To me it was a heritage project – about identity – it was normalising and bridging perceived gaps about what these people want and how they go about their lives. I think things like the children showing their favourite football team and wrestlers, the images in their bedrooms, and the stories of the uncles who worked in the Hong Kong police force and working for the navy, and the armed forces, in Pakistan this was about the commonwealth. The family were keen to explore their New York connections – J was always talking about it. In terms of tracing ancestry, for Asian families how difficult would that be. Ferham families to me is the beginning of the ‘who do you think you are’ like the television programme (laughs). (interview March 2009)
Lucy had four children, two very young.
Lucy: Right: [I took my] children
I like to listen to music
I love biscuits (laughs)
That’s me two bears
Jennifer: She has got a massive one
I like to have dolls
Jennifer: She has got loads in the house
That’s me on the phone I like to talk to my friends (image of phone)
I do a lot of hovering and washing – exhausting (image of sad face)
(Fieldnotes 24th November 2008).
J: (filming): Can I do about your box mum?
L: I have got my children’s names in because I got a picture of them
I have got a spider because I don’t like spiders
L: Its blue because I like blue
I have got a candle there, I made one
Music because I like music
I don’t know what else to do
Lucy: I took pictures of my two birds because they are always there for me’
of my candles
I have got a quartz stone
I took a picture of the [bar]
Jenni took a picture of the candle
(from digital audio tape 8th December)