When creative writers come into contact with the intangible aura of historical collections, evidence of seismic events, those meanings are articulated. A strand of activity within the First World War Engagement Centre Living Legacies focused on the multiple meanings inherent in our museum and private collections and addressed how we can think creatively about potentially divisive objects.   

For the Special Edition of Corncrake see: http://corncrakemagazine.com/article/living-legacies/

Fermanagh Writers visited Northern Ireland War Memorial to explore and handle artefacts relating to the war period. With Omagh Robins, also a creative writing group, the writers spent two days in Enniskillen Castle thinking creatively within the barracks building and stimulated by the objects and stories to be found in the nearby Inniskillings Museum.

Impact

The museum visits with the writers, the workshops with collections, and opportunities for discussions focussing on how we remember, had the following impact:

• Stimulated a new interest in, and new understanding of, a period of history some of the participants had previously avoided believing it did not resonate;
• Enabled creative practice resulting in new writing about the period, some of which was published soon after in Corncrake Magazine;
• Forged new and lasting networks across counties Fermanagh and Tyrone and between the writers and Inniskilings Museum;
• Developed awareness of the multiple, diverse and unexpected collections in our local museums; and,
• Through observation of the creative processes the facilitators could see how people engage with material culture, bringing a deeper understanding of how we find significances with objects

What worked well and what, if anything, didn't?

Creative writing captured the intangible quality of the artefacts making that real through the imagination of the writer;  

The use of facilitators with a proven record in writing, and experienced with handling museum collections, stimulated and brought rigour to the process;  

The collaboration between different groups: the writers, the museum and its collections and the multidisciplinary approach within the academy (museum studies, social science, history and drama) made the project unique for all concerned. 

The opportunity that came later for the writers to both publish their work and perform it brought this phase to a satisfactory close and has stimulated all involved to continue working in this field.

Further Information

Elizabeth Crooke, em.crooke@ulster.ac.uk, www.ulster.ac.uk