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​Catching Ideas, Writing Rules


This early stage of the project is always the slowest: it’s the time when the ideas incubate. Key words float out of as yet un-eloquent ideas to the surface, and if they stay there, grabbed back into conversation about the project every now and then, after a while they begin to settle, finally forming the early the foundations for the rest of the project to be built upon.

And this is the stage that I and my local sticky-memory-gathering, oral histories Camden Encounters project have been at so far. We have travelled from the idea of me visiting people in their homes to the promise that I will go where my participants want me. We went from talking about voices to encounters. And from archive material to working with what is actually here, now, waiting to be told by the people I am waiting to meet. The rules are beginning to be written.

And meanwhile, I’ve been writing to people, speaking to people, researching people online, learning about Camden based groups, communities and histories and working with the Camden50 team to find my first 10 people with whom I shall have an encounter, about and around the site of their sticky memories. I introduced the weave of the network, enabling my participants to propose people for my next encounters.

Last week I had my first three Encounters - with Hannah Morris, Youth MP for Camden; Ruth Ingram, poet and artist who has lived at the same address is Camden since 1972, and Councillor Ali, who spoke about the 1984 Occupation of the Town Hall. I have also been lucky enough to have met Kaajel Patel, who will be my assistant on this project - and we are working on setting up the next set of Encounters with people who have Camden lodged sticky memories.

Man and Lion, British Museum, July 2009, ink drawing