Turning History into Heritage: Shaping Perceptions of Copper’s Past

Brass sheet manufactured by Vivian and Sons, Swansea for the Indian market

Brass sheet manufactured by Vivian and Sons, Swansea for the Indian market (credit: Vin Callcut, oldcopper.org)

The ESRC-funded Global and Local Worlds of Welsh Copper Project achieved its third milestone on 30 June when the gallery exhibition Byd Copr Cymru-A World of Welsh Copper was open for preview at the National Waterfront Museum, Swansea. The exhibition will run until 15 October 2011 and a travelling version will tour Wales and other venues in the UK. I will blog more about my experience curating this exhibition in due course.

Shortly after the exhibition’s opening I gave a paper at the informal workshop, also organised by the project, on 14-15 July. The workshop title took its name from the project with the aim of bringing research into various aspects of the historic industry up to date. There was particular emphasis on examples of the global impact of the Welsh copper industry, particularly that centred in the Lower Swansea Valley. I hope to make abstracts of the papers available in the research section of the (still in development) Welsh Copper website soon.

Analysis of access to copper heritage on Copper Day

Analysis of access to copper heritage on Copper Day

My paper examined the current place that the copper industry occupies in our local and global heritage and then went on to make a preliminary analysis of two of the project’s major outcomes, Copper Day and the exhibition. The aim here was to set a benchmark for understanding how our knowledge-transfer initiatives worked in practice. This will then form the basis to a longer-term project to gauge professional and public perceptions of the historic copper industry with a view to conducting a survey over the next 12 months. I intend to publish this paper in an expanded form and am currently looking for appropriate journals or editorial collaborations.
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