museum talk 21st June
Yesterday's talk at the museum went well. Healthy turn-out of about 12 enthusiastic souls on a Wednesday lunchtime. We kept the proceedings informal and chatty and consequently got quite a lot of input from the floor. We gave the usual background to the project - the Art Plus Award, psychogeography, Project Eden - but then rather than focussing too much on the process we talked more about how the work can help reconnect people to place and provide a different slant on the consultation process when redevelopment takes place. Our message that a public loo in Desborough can have the same heritage value as the Henry Keene designed Grade II listed Guildhall also seemed to have a resonance.
We had a brief mapping exercise at the end where people posted their thoughts and comments on post-it notes and put them on the map. It brought up things we hadn't come across or had forgotten such as - Piggy Wood as the name of the wood at the end of Benjamin's footpath, the existence of caves under the museum, two or three comments about the contribution to the town's culture made by the Pakistani and West Indian community, a note about the Bus Shelter that the St Vincentians slept in their first night in Wycombe, the long dunfunct biscuit factory near the bus station (United Biscuits denied all knowledge of it when I rang them about it), one lady told us how as a girl she and her friends used to wait outside the Mitford house to catch a glimpse of the glamorous sisters.
One audience member recounted how she had heckled the acrchitect of the Eden scheme when he said that Wycombe had no distinctive architecture. And there was much surprise when I read out Anan Dickson's description of the ancient way of Green Street that connected the Midland Plain to the Thames. Green Street lives on as a short stretch of terraced housing at the centre of Wycombe's Asian community, famous for its Howard Jones association, and a much unheralded part of town - till yesterday.
It was great to see such enthusiasm for the work and a zest for rediscovering the town.
Thanks to Maddy and the museum staff for setting up the event.