That’s the question Salisbury-based artist Laurence Dube-Rushby and Swindon Museum and Art Gallery asked the people of Swindon for a project called ‘A Postcard for Swindon’ which was unveiled on 28 July.
Laurence, who has degrees in Fashion, Design and Fine Art, has conducted extensive work in Wiltshire and has built up an impressive record of community engagement projects and artist residencies.
A Postcard for Swindon has been taking place from February to July 2015 when Laurence talked to 243 people at a series of drop-ins sessions over several days at the Central Library, a day in the Brunel Centre and also several visits to community groups and organisation.
She also made contact with several local groups such as the Swindon Harbour, the Eastcott Community Organisation and former railway workers at Central Community Centre, as well as attending meetings, afternoon teas and markets to collect stories, photographs and recordings of the lives of people living and working in Swindon.
She’s met historians, former railwaymen, andthe newest residents of our town. As well as being written down, some of the stories have been recorded and uploaded to YouTube and can be accessed by scanning the QR codes scattered throughout the postcards or you can listen to the stories via the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery website.
The results of this engagement work can be seen on 6 giant postcards on the hoardings around the Temple Street/Regent Street redevelopment site in the town centre and will be available to view until early 2016.
The postcards mix together stories from Swindon residents’ lives and some of the town’s most significant events and put together in a timeline of Swindon from ancient times right up to the present day. From the arrival of the railways, World War II bombing, the construction of Nationwide’s headquarters, the timeline weaves it way from farm tracks to a canal, railways to motorway.
Some historical events listed include the opening of the Wyvern in the pouring rain in 1971 by the Queen, staff at the Oasis winning an award for best UK leisure centre in 1986, the famous tram accident in 1906 and the building of the Brunel Shopping Centre, top. Get an impression of the postcards below, but visit the town centre to see the full size versions
The project has cost £6,618, funded through the Arts Council England ‘Fit For The Future’ Renaissance Strategic Support Fund.