The Blackwell Project

The Blackwell Project was a two-year initiative by Lakeland Arts to enhance customer engagement at Blackwell, the Arts and Crafts House, Bowness-on-Windermere. Helena wrote scripts for a number of augmented realities now in situ at Blackwell, setting up voice actors and recording them. In rooms around the house are photographs of four members of the Holt household: Edith Winterbottom; Elizabeth Holt; Edward Holt; and Joseph Holt. Helena voiced the part of Edith.

Using the Blackwell App provided on tablets available from reception, visitors walk through the house holding the tablets in front of each photograph. The photographs then come to life and a household member will talk to you about their life at Blackwell.

The scripts are based on extensive research Helena undertook during the summer of 2017. Using the Blackwell archive, oral history transcriptions, obituaries, memoirs, newspaper reports, books, census returns, civil records and numerous other sources, she built up a picture of each ‘character’ and converted the factual information gained into stories about real people, and their thoughts and feelings about the world in which they lived.

The narratives reveal aspects of life between 1908 and 1919, from the pride of Edward Holt in all that he achieved as a brewer, Manchester City Council member and eventual Mayor, to Edith Winterbottom’s excitement at precious time off from her duties as between maid to cycle to Windermere, Coniston, and Kendal to watch Charlie Chaplin films at the local cinema. ELizabeth and Joseph’s Holt’s narratives around World War One are particularly poignant.

In 2018, the Blackwell Project was shortlisted for the inaugural “Culture and Heritage Experience” Award from Cumbria Tourism Awards. Helena attended the awards ceremony at Cartmel Racecourse in June 2018 alongside the Blackwell Project team, all of whom were extremely excited to be announced the very first winners of this award!

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