by Tony Davey, Learning Development Officer

‘Maker Memories’ is a community project that aims to capture the rich and diverse heritage of Maker Camp in South East Cornwall at a time when things for the venue are really changing.

When we were getting ready to close the Museum and Art Gallery and considering which projects to lend our support to while development work for The Box was taking place, the decision to get involved was unanimous.

Maker with Rame Community Interest Company logoThe project is led by volunteers from the Maker with Rame Community Interest Company. They’ve been working with a variety of community members to capture stories from the people who attended the Camp on a school holiday, to the musicians and artists who are based there today.

Photographs, film, objects and ephemera have been collected to give an insight into how important Maker is to the thousands of people that have visited over the years.

The project’s volunteers have been supported by Sociology and Media Arts students from the University of Plymouth, and students from the Extended Diploma in Film, Animation and Media Production at Plymouth College of Art.

In turn, they have been supported by Maker-based creatives such as Patchwork Studios, Instant Light Productions and Dom Moore Photography.

Patchwork Studios working on the Maker Memories project

Although Maker was originally a military base (from the late 18th century), it’s most well known as the school holiday camp established by Nancy Astor and the Virginia House Settlement in the 1920’s for ‘deprived city children’.

Apart from a brief spell during World War II when it was recommissioned as a military base, it continued as this until its closure in 1987. As a result, thousands of children (mainly from Plymouth) had their first and sometimes only childhood holiday at Maker.

Three boys on holiday at Maker Camp

More recently Maker has hosted hundreds of musicians who have played and learned their craft at the venue, thousands of festival-goers (with an annual music festival starting in 1999) and artists who had studios there. There’s also been a campsite and facilities for people to hold their wedding.

Opening event for the Maker Memories touring exhibitionRegardless of whether they’re young or old, regular or occasional visitor, what’s become clear through the project is that everyone holds Maker dear to their hearts.

The wind and basic facilities are more than made up for by the stunning location and panoramic views. For those who are local, there’s a strong sense of community, with music and the arts as its beating heart. Maker holds many special memories for many, many people.

Over the last 18 months it’s been my pleasure to support the project. I’ve helped with training in oral history recording, accessing and interpreting our collections, setting up and managing the project’s website and social media accounts and providing guidance on the best ways to exhibit the materials and stories that have been collected.

Tony Davey speaking at the Maker Memories Fun Day in 2017

Man looking at the Maker Memories displayA small touring exhibition of the project’s findings so far has recently been launched.

It’s on display in our Community Hub on Floor 5 at House of Fraser until 24 May and then again from 5 June-31 July if you’d like to take a look.

We’ll be running some events inspired by it during the summer, details of which can be found in our what’s on section.

If you’d like to get involved or find out where the exhibition will be heading next visit the project website for more information.

‘Maker Memories’ will be featured in a community gallery when The Box opens in 2020.

The full colour images used in this post were taken by Dom Moore.