How can we work with the Friends of Langley Library to celebrate and share local heritage?

The Detail

  • Project Within Walking Distance – Landmarks of Langley
  • Role Project Manager / Designer
  • Sector Heritage / Community / Learning / Arts & Culture
  • Skills Project Management / Design / Exhibition / Creative Workshops
  • Collaborators Friends of Langley Library / Emma Purshouse / Kate Jackson / Jaspal Sehint / Brendan Jackson / Keith Bloomfield / Richard Flatley / Infamous Arts
  • Funders Arts Council England / Heritage Fund / Sandwell MBC

The Friends of Langley Library wanted to share a sense of place and civic pride in their area while communicating the significance of Langley to the Black Country and how its history has informed what the area looks like today. Working with the group we helped to create a touring exhibition and an illustrated augmented reality map celebrating the areas rich culture and heritage.

Research and Development workshops at Sandwell Heritage Centre, Smethwick. Photography Simon Ramshaw

The project mapped out 24 locally famous landmarks; some old, some no longer there, and some more recent but all rich in the cultural history of Langley. While some of the stories of the landmarks are well known, many are hidden treasures, so We Can Create’s approach was to facilitate creative interventions with artists, photographers, filmmakers, animators and poets that would engage local people in unearthing, telling and sharing these stories.

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Left - Drawing workshop with Happy Painters Group, Oldbury. Right - poetry recording workshop with Sandwell school. Photography Richard Franks

Animation - To do this we delivered poetry workshops in schools, Q3 Academy Langley and Rood End Primary School, we hosted community poetry events, a photographic exhibition, intergenerational show and tell days, heritage talks and created a printed map that supported augmented reality to show a high-quality animation. The animation was created by Jaspal Sehint, Rich Franks and Keith Bloomfield, featuring a poem by renowned poet Emma Purshouse and performed by Emma and members of the the Friends of Langley Library, that can be seen on the video (or film) below.

Guided Walks - The Friends of Langley Library, cultural and heritage walk consultants Walk Works, and We Can Create, devised and delivered heritage walks for both schools and the local community. The walks culminated in a number of guided ‘stop and show’ tours highlighting the many cultural and historically important landmarks.

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Inter-generational workshops with the Friends of Langley Library and local school groups. Photography Richard Franks
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Friends of Langley Library, and Walk Works CIC developing heritage walk. Langley. Photography Richard Franks

Workshops With Schools - On a number of walks poet Emma Purshouse ran workshops with children from the Q3 Academy Langley and Rood End Primary School. She asked the pupils to make notes on what they could hear, see, smell and touch. When back in the classroom Emma taught the young people to write and perform a series of poems in response to their experiences.

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Poetry workshops with poet Emma Purshouse and local schools. Photography Richard Franks

Workshops - As well as inspiring local school children to write poetry about their area, Emma ran a number of community poetry workshops and interventions, capturing stories about the area from people she met along the way. Taking this wealth of material Emma created the Langley Poem.

The poem was then performed by Emma and local residents and recorded by community film and audio specialist Keith Bloomfield. It was used as the soundtrack to an animation by animator Jaspal Sehint using photographs of the local area, and found sounds captured by Keith across various location in Langley, including the canal, library, pubs, park and local shops.

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Poetry recording session with the Friends of Langley Library and film and sound artist Keith Bloomfield. Photography Richard Franks

Augmented Reality Map - We designed and produced an illustrated augmented reality map to make history relevant and engage diverse audiences. Our aim was to push the boundaries of how we could bring history to life using contemporary technology used in gaming and advertising industries. The end user simply had to download a free app and scan three unique illustrations on the map to here the final animation.

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Left - Within Walking Distance - Landmarks of Langley Exhibition celebratory event. Right - The Within Walking Distance - Landmarks of Langley Map. Photography Simon Ramshaw (left) Dee Patel (Right)
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Within Walking Distance - Landmarks of Langley Map. Photography Dee Patel
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Within Walking Distance - Landmarks of Langley Map. Photography Dee Patel

Contemporary Photography - As well as capture and celebrate historic landmarks, we were also keen to document the area as it is now. To do this we commissioned photographer Kate Jackson to take a series of contemporary photographs. These included people, landmarks, shops and the overlooked. The photographs were part of the touring exhibition and are now housed at Langley Library.

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Within Walking Distance - Landmarks of Langley Project, contemporary fine art photographs of Langley. Photography Kate Jackson

Drawing Workshops - Creative Producer Rich Franks and artist Richard Flatley ran a number of visual art workshops with Oldbury based Happy Painters Group. Using historic photographs kindly afforded us by Oldbury Local History Society, we challenged members of the group to draw postcard-size pen and ink illustrations of local landmarks in Langley. The culmination of their work and talent was shown in the touring exhibition.

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Happy Painters Group illustrations inspired by the landmarks of Langley. Photography Richard Franks

Touring Exhibition - The different elements of project culminated in a touring exhibition and a number of guided tours and walks around Langley. To ensure the exhibition could be taken to a number of locations across Langley and Oldbury we worked with local arts orgsnisation Infamous Arts CIC to create a number of bespoke exhibition stands. The exhibition was shown at Langley Library, Sandwell Council House and the British Legion.

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Within Walking Distance - Landmarks of Langley, walk and touring exhibition stands. Photography Richard Franks

Feel free to discuss your project with us so that we can share with you what could be possible and build an ambitious idea that goes beyond what you might have thought possible.