PIC­TURE THIS

Join us in the search for clues to mys­tery pho­to­graphs that could hold links to long-lost rel­a­tives. Angi Kennedy re­ports on a fas­ci­nat­ing new ex­hi­bi­tion.

Let's Talk - - CONTENTS -

Un­cov­er­ing photo mys­ter­ies

Y ou’re sift­ing through a pile of old pho­to­graphs that you’ve in­her­ited. The pic­tures are fas­ci­nat­ing, but the places and faces are just vaguely re­mem­bered or per­haps even long for­got­ten. And there is no-one to ask who or where they were. Could that be your great-great grand­fa­ther? Whose wed­ding is be­ing cel­e­brated? Was that the ances­tral home?

Most of us will have come across at least one such mys­tery amid their old fam­ily pho­tos. It’s the mo­ment we re­alise we should have looked through them with older rel­a­tives who have now passed on, with those who could iden­tify the faces and places and tell sto­ries that would bring to life these snap­shots into a world gone by.

For Richard Fair, project man­ager at The Fo­rum in Nor­wich, it was stum­bling across a cou­ple of in­trigu­ing old fam­ily pho­tos that trig­gered the idea of stag­ing a spe­cial ex­hi­bi­tion which will link up with Let’s Talk mag­a­zine, Age UK Nor­wich and the Nor­folk Her­itage Cen­tre at the Mil­len­nium Li­brary.

Who Do You Think They Are? takes place at The Fo­rum from Mon­day, March 13 to Satur­day, April 1, with the aim of shar­ing some of the clues that can help un­pick the mys­tery of uniden­ti­fied pho­tos, as well as cel­e­brat­ing the lives of the peo­ple cap­tured in these mys­tery pic­tures.

Richard ex­plained: “I was look­ing through some old pho­tos and came across these de­light­ful im­ages of a group in a chara­banc and some peo­ple in a har­vest field. I loved the pic­tures and the thought of the sto­ries they might have told, but I have no idea who the peo­ple are or what is my con­nec­tion to them. It made me think that there are prob­a­bly lots of peo­ple in a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion with pic­tures that they can’t iden­tify.

“We are in a gen­er­a­tion now when ev­ery­one is a pho­tog­ra­pher with a cam­era in their pocket. But when we look back at these old pho­tos we re­alise how pre­cious they were and how they record mo­ments that are lost for­ever.”

Richard hopes that vis­i­tors to the ex­hi­bi­tion will bring their own mys­tery pho­tos to show the ex­perts on hand. And he has also com­mis­sioned the Nor­folk artist and arts ed­u­ca­tor Ali Atkins to cre­ate a me­mo­rial to the lives of the uniden­ti­fied peo­ple in the pho­to­graphs. She is de­sign­ing and build­ing wooden dis­play “trees” which will stand in The Fo­rum.

“We’re hop­ing that peo­ple will bring their pho­tos in, so that we can scan them and they can put the scanned im­age on to the me­mo­rial. We hope to be able to dis­play about 350 pho­to­graphs, which will cre­ate a for­est of me­mories.”

The ex­hi­bi­tion will in­clude ad­vice on re­search­ing fam­ily his­tory. The Mil­len­nium Li­brary in The Fo­rum at Nor­wich has a wealth of in­for­ma­tion and ex­per­tise for any­one in­ter­ested in dis­cov­er­ing more about their fam­ily story as well as pre­serv­ing their lo­cal me­mories. Vis­i­tors will be able to share their tales of life in Nor­folk with His­to­rypin Con­nec­tions. Nor­folk Li­brary and In­for­ma­tion Ser­vice is tak­ing part in this na­tional project to cre­ate a com­mu­nity ar­chive. There will be staff from the Nor­folk Her­itage Cen­tre on hand of­fer­ing in­for­mal ses­sions along­side the ex­hi­bi­tion, giv­ing hints on how to get started, us­ing its sub­scrip­tion to FindMyPast to help break down any “brick walls” and signpost to more re­sources that are avail­able in the Her­itage Cen­tre on the sec­ond floor of the li­brary.

Also sup­port­ing the ex­hi­bi­tion is Age UK Nor­wich, which of­fers a lis­ten­ing ear, sup­port, ad­vice and help for older peo­ple and their fam­i­lies to stay in­de­pen­dent, ac­tive and healthy

Un­cov­er­ing the past through old pho­tos.

One of the pho­tos that gave Richard Fair the idea for the ex­hi­bi­tion. Richard dis­cov­ered it among a col­lec­tion of old fam­ily pho­tos - from the clothes they are wear­ing and the chara­banc it ap­pears that the pic­ture was taken in the 1920s or 1930s on a day out. But who are these peo­ple and why was it in his fam­ily col­lec­tion?

The ex­hi­bi­tion will in­clude ad­vice on de­ci­pher­ing the clues in old pho­tos. For in­stance, this pic­ture looks like a por­trait from Vic­to­rian times, but there have been trends for recre­at­ing vin­tage im­ages in more re­cent times - so how can you tell if it is the real thing?

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