Royal Anthropological Institute, Education Officer, Nafisa Fera became attracted to the Floating Memories project as she is interested in the visual archives and how the oral histories can make those photos and films come to life. “I like learning about Brighton’s past as I lived in Brighton and have fond memories of the city. I think that the Floating Memories is very interesting because it has a bit of everything- stories, photos, films, manuscripts, news articles. I like learning about how a sport like swimming reinforces a sense of community and creates a connection between people’s private and public lives. I also like the way in which the project shows the ways in which traditions and practices associated with sea bathing and swimming change over time and what people are doing today that has been influenced from the past”.
She has recently submitted this news report to The Argus.
Fancy a tea party in the sea?
Film footage of Brighton’s sea bathing and swimming heritage from 1945-54 will be a highlight of this year’s Brighton Cine City Film Festival.
Floating tea parties and male bathers in top hats are part of Brighton Swimming Club’s priceless visual archives- a selection of which will be premiered on 27th of November at the Sallis Benney Theatre. The film footage has recently been digitised by Screen Archive South East as part of a £50,000 Heritage Lottery funded project called Floating Memories, spearheaded by graphic designer Paul Farrington and the Brighton Swimming Club. The project documents over 150 years Brighton’s swimming heritage using archives that date back to 1860.
Paul Farrington said the catalyst for the project was viewing the Club’s archival collection at the Brighton and Hove Museum in March 2010. “I found posters from 1864, original minute books, photographs and newspaper clippings.. I felt that there was an importance in this material being displayed and being made accessible”.
A crucial part of making the archive accessible was moving the collection to the East Sussex Records Office where it could be catalogued and digitized.
At the heart of the Floating Memories project are stories from older and current Club members who offer oral histories relating to the material collection.
Oral historian Alan Dein says that “when Paul and his team are speaking to a group of swimmers about the 1940s or 1950s you are not only getting a sense of their experience of swimming but of who they are, where they grew up, why they choose to swim, what it meant to them, friendships that were created and the kind of traditions that existed”
Documenting these oral histories has led to new archival discoveries such as Roger Dunford’s collection of 16 MM films that will be shown at the Festival. The film footage will be mixed with oral history recordings in a live soundtrack performed by Paul Farrington and fellow sea swimmer Bella Kardasis.
The event aims to connect people to the project’s memories and hopefully lead to the recording of more oral histories. Floating Memories will have an ongoing legacy through the archival collections held at East Sussex Records Office and Screen Archive South East, a permanent exhibition at the Brighton Fishing Museum, and an affiliated website.
For more information visit www.floatingmemories.co.uk