‘Tales from Camp’ is a collection of short films produced as the result of a year-long collaboration between Salford Lads Club and Goldsmiths College, University of London.
The project centred on a multi-layered digital storytelling process to coincide with the celebrations of the Salford Lads Club’s 100th annual camping holiday to Wales in 2011. While the club’s long history of camping in Wales had been well documented by still and moving film footage, this material had begun to deteriorate and become disorganised over the years. This situation raised the need to digitally preserve this rare amateur archive, but also presented an opportunity to experiment with the creative possibilities of widening interaction with it. In producing the Tales from Camp films, Club members of all ages were supported to undertake a group exchange of stories about their memories from attending the camp, record their own ‘tales from camp’ and then illustrate them with edited, remixed and recombined archival footage using basic movie making software.
The project has provided an opportunity to reflect on the potency of the archives that are held by civic organizations such as the Salford Lads Club, and their potential to be used for ‘memory work’ which, like the tradition of camping itself, is based on building intergenerational relationships as a central dimension of ‘making of good citizens’, to use the Club’s own early motto. At the same time the Club’s use of its archive as part of a living local history of Salford, of which the Tales from Camp exhibition is just the most recent example, presents a sharp contrast to the historical amnesia that has been experienced in an area of Salford characterised by repeated rounds of demolition and regeneration, and the appropriation of working class history as a romantic form of ‘heritage’.