Turning up the volume on our Borders heritage in Hawick

Youngsters can get the chance to listen in to Borders past via the recorded life stories which inspired them.
Youngsters can get the chance to listen in to Borders past via the recorded life stories which inspired them.
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From animations to drama pieces and from print-making to poetry, the last five months have seen people across the Borders responding to the rich oral history collections held by the Scottish Borders Archive.

On Thursday, June 15 (5.30pm-6.30pm), a special free Borders Book Festival event, Sounding Borders – the spark of spoken memories – will take attenders on a virtual tour of these creative projects, and give them the chance to listen in to Borders past via the recorded life stories which inspired them.

Using traditional letterpress techniques at Robert Smails Printing Works in Innerleithen.

Using traditional letterpress techniques at Robert Smails Printing Works in Innerleithen.

The event is a culmination of a much wider initiative carried out by Live Borders Archives, based at the Heritage Hub in Hawick, working in partnership with digital learning resource Scran and the National Library of Scotland’s Connecting Scotland’s Sounds (CSS) project.

Amy MacDonald, CSS engagement and learning co-ordinator said: “We’re thrilled that people from the Borders have been inspired by their local heritage recordings and that there have been such wonderfully creative results.

“It has been great to turn up the volume on Scotland’s rich audio heritage and connect new listeners with interesting recordings.”

Live Borders Archives and Local History Service cares for a considerable collection of oral history recordings and has experience in their collection, conservation and use.

These include the Ian Landles Recordings, the Memory Bank and the DIGBY project.

Many of these records are digitally available through www.scran.ac.uk, which can be accessed free in all Live Borders Libraries.

Connecting Scotland’s Sounds, which is funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, champions the preservation and sharing of Scotland’s audio heritage and aims to engage a wide range of audiences with these collections.

These fascinating recordings have been the inspiration for a range of creative projects.

In February children and families were invited to two workshops with local artist Simone Russell in Hawick Library where they learned about sound recording in years gone by before creating short stop-motion animations using iPads. The finished animations are available to view on the Live Borders YouTube channel.

A series of workshops in April and May offered the Peeblesshire community the chance to listen to recordings and write creative pieces inspired by the voices before transforming their work into print using traditional letterpress techniques at Robert Smail’s Printing Works in Innerleithen.

A further two poetry workshops, in Kelso and Hawick, led by local poets Anne Ryland and Tom Murray looked at themed recordings covering domestic service and the railways.

A group from Borders Youth Theatre, based in Selkirk and led by Oli Bisset, chose a recording of a weel-kent Souter’s Bairn, Jenny Corbett, as inspiration for their work with youth TV production team Voice of my Own (VOMO). Their final film, alongside the outputs from the afore mentioned projects, will feature alongside the archive recordings on the interactive online map.

Book your free ticket for the showcase at the Borders Book Festival at http://www.bordersbookfestival.org/