Sharing words, voices of Placentia Bay
Exhibit launch coincides with annual festival
The new Voices of Placentia Bay exhibit is now on display in Placentia, giving curious folks a chance to learn about songs and stories linked to the area’s rich history.
An official launch for the exhibit takes place July 31 at the Placentia Bay Cultural Arts Centre starting at 2 p.m. That event will also serve to help kick-off the annual Voices of Placentia Bay Festival, a two-day event featuring musical performances and other activities.
The Placentia Area Historical Society applied for and received government funding to hire professionals to realize the exhibit.
“I never thought there’d be so much interest for people from (outside the area),” said society president Tom O’Keefe. “We’re quite happy with it.”
The exhibit includes multimedia components. People can use tablet computers to hear local performers play songs or to listen to interviews with older folks researcher Eric West collected in the late 1970s.
The exhibit works with themes to help organize the wealth of material used to create it. A wall dedicated to the subject of leaving home looks at songs and stories tied to resettlement. Another part of the exhibit focuses on the former navy base in Argentia, where entertainers performed frequently and a radio station was operated.
Across from the Argentia display is a wall dedicated to local storytelling traditions. Along with some of West’s archival recordings, this display includes a small wall filled with riddles that are associated with Placentia Bay communities. Those game to give it a go can take a guess at what the riddle is talking about before flipping a small piece of wood to find the answer.
A little recording station at one end of the exhibit lets members of the public record a song or story, with an accordion, guitar and bodhrán available to use.
“This has actually been very popular,” said Scott Manning, an employee at the arts centre. “You can record anything you want.”
Upon entering the exhibit, you’re greeted by a looped video of the Fox Harbour Dancers performing at the Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival in what could be the 1970s or early 1980s.
“They dance straight for 33 minutes and 48 seconds,” notes Manning with a bit of a laugh. “The women sit down for a second. The men never stop.”
Artifacts from local archaeo- logical digs that are typically loaned to the arts centre for the summer will also remain on display.
“It complements what they were doing, because the artifacts alone wouldn’t draw as much as two particular (exhibits) that people can look at,” said O’Keefe.
A look at the singers, songwriters and musicians known for sharing a song or two in the Placentia Bay area over the years. Placentia Area Historical Society president Tom O’Keefe shows off one of the tablet computers screens people can use to listen to songs and performers associated with Placentia Bay. This is where people can sit down to record a song or story to share with the Voices of Placentia Bay exhibit. Those who leave an email address can later have their performance sent back to them.