Aberfulais Falls, near Neath, Wales, site of early copperworking, then tinplate industry (Tehmina Goskar)
Having had the opportunity to work on various industrial heritage projects over the years and now focusing both my research and professional work in this area, I am publishing what I consider to be five key areas that should be addressed as part of any industrial heritage project. They are particularly aimed at groups and organisations that want to think about promoting their site or collections beyond the locality and beyond immediate interest groups and traditional audiences. They are also aimed at any knowledge exchange collaboration or project that wish to raise awareness of a particular historic industry and its impact on people and societies.
It makes reference to examples based on Welsh copper industrial heritage as that is the project on which I have most recently worked. The Top 5 was originally written in July 2010.
You may freely make use of this guide provided you ensure full attribution is made to me, Tehmina Goskar, and its source on this website.
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
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. Continue reading →
Copper Day was an unexpected development of the ESRC Global and Local Worlds of Welsh Copper Project that I am currently working on at Swansea University. In addition to the summer exhibition, the development of web-accessible resources on copper history, digitisation and liaison with project partners and other bodies, Copper Day has emerged as probably what most people will remember the project for. It was initially an idea raised to respond to what some thought of as a rather elitist event held last October at the National Waterfront Museum on History, Heritage and Urban Regeneration. This was organised jointly by the project and the Institute of Welsh Affairs. That day had a specific aim in mind and that was to raise the issues surrounding heritage-led regeneration, what this has meant for other areas of Britain such as Cornwall and New Lanark in Scotland, and what this could mean in the future for Swansea. However, there was still a need to address how to satisfy a growing thirst for information on Swansea’s global copper heritage. What began as an idea for a ‘free people’s meeting to discuss things’ has ended up as, thanks to the willing and voluntary contributions and efforts of several individuals and organisations, a city-wide free festival of all things copper. On Saturday 5 March, (parts of) Swansea will once again (metaphorically) hear the clatter of the copperworks and (with no threat to health) smell the smog that choked the valley that was at the centre of a world industry for almost two centuries. From the Big Screen in Castle Square to the Richard Burton Archives at Swansea University, we hope there will be something for everyone.
This will be the first time I have delved into a brand new region’s material culture since my foray into medieval southern Italy for my PhD. My learning curve has been steep and I hope that I do justice to the work of scholars of Latin America on which I will be heavily relying. However, this paper will not be about Wales’ relationship with Latin America during the boom years of the world copper industry in the middle two-thirds of the 19th century, but will rather suggest how this relationship can be interpreted through objects. Through the project I am currently working on, the Global and Local Worlds of Welsh Copper, I am tasked with doing just this. It isn’t just the Latin American connections that need to be made tangible through the objects and illustrations we will feature in the forthcoming exhibition at the National Waterfront Museum in Swansea in July 2011, but those closer and farther from Wales such as Australia, South Africa, Anglesey and Cornwall. How can this story be told through the things that remain to us? Copper wasn’t the only thing that connected Latin America to Wales. The well-known Monkey-puzzle tree (Araucaria araucana, previously known as Chile Pine in Britain), native to Chile and Argentina, came to the British Isles in the 1850s and a handsome specimen was planted in the estates of Singleton Abbey, previously the home of copper magnates the Vivians, now the core of Swansea University. Did the copper connection bring this particular one to Swansea?
This paper will give me the opportunity to talk about my intellectual approach to choosing objects for exhibitions (and for history writing) and provide a discrete case-study to do this. To be a little out of my comfort zone with a new region’s history will sharpen, I hope, my questions and improve my answers. The title is in homage to copper’s elemental number, 29, and my expectation that 29 key objects can tell the story of the world of Welsh copper.
An enhanced version of my slideshow presentation will now form a part of the 2011 Swansea Latin American Association (Asociación Latinoamericana de Swansea Swansea Latin American Association) festival at the Dylan Thomas Centre where people will be able to learn about the Welsh-Latin American copper connections.