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A history of oral histories in Camden

EllyClarke-with-Ruth Screen-Shot-2015-03-27-at-14-25-14

In a previous article by Richard Price we were introduced to the question of how do we archive / collect / remember stories. How do we make sure peoples every day stories stay alive and available for the next generation? For Camden50 we have commissioned artist Elly Clarke to collect oral histories in Camden. Her brief was to collect voices talking about the last 50 years and the next 50; this project is highlighting just a snapshot of what Camden looks and sounds like right now in its 50th year. Elly’s approach to this project is a unique one, calling on her participants to talk about their ‘sticky memories’ of Camden, of the place they will always remember because of a particular reason, whether than be where they got married or the shop they’ve been working in for the last 50 years and then to suggest someone else for her to speak to. It’s a small screen grab of Camden right now and one led by the participants.

But the idea of making sure Camden is heard and remembered has been happening in the Borough for a number of years and this year continues to do so too. There is an obvious need and want for audiences and story tellers to keep certain tales alive, to make sure certain things are remembered and treasured. From the incredible British Library oral history archive and our own Local Studies and Archives centre in 2012 making a project entitled Camden Voices, all the way to now! To Elly Clarke’s Camden Encounters, Kings Cross Voices and coming this Summer a new Penny Woolcock commission at Roundhouse. Camden is a borough who wants to record, remember and re-call our voices.

Check out our Camden50 oral history project by Elly Clarke HERE.

Article by Charlie Levine

Curator, Camden50