The Picture Post project has moved to Swindon! On Saturday 6th November, Andy from the BPMA travelled west to introduce the project to participating families from the Swindon area.
The Platform Youth Centre was the venue for the morning, and our base was an old First Class train carriage. The building used to house the railway museum, prior to their move across the tracks to become STEAM.
An old First Class train carriage, now the Platform Youth Centre
Seats were very nearly fully-booked for the session, as around 15 people crammed into the carriage, and listened to Andy talk about the BPMA, our collections, and the photographs from the Royal Mail Archive that are the focus of the Picture Post project.
First up, Andy asked some eager volunteers to dress up as post people from the past, using a variety of uniforms from the BPMA Handling Collection.
Imogen, sporting a peaked postman’s cap from the GPO era
Andy went on to talk about some of the more unexpected items we have in the BPMA collection, including blunderbusses and cutlasses, and then handed out just a few examples of the thousands of photos we have that show the work of the Post Office during the 1930s, 40s, 50s and 60s.
Each person picked a favourite photo and thought about why they liked it. Esina was taken by this image of Chailey Post Office, particularly the familiar logo of Cadburys in the window.
Exterior view of Chailey Post Office, with a telephone box situated alongside, 1937
Sheena, Sally and (the other) Andy from Artsite then took over the session, and asked the group to make collages using photocopies of the Archive images and a pile of other materials, including old stamps, elegant ink-pen script, stickers, patterned paper, and feathers.
Inside the train carriage, the group cutting and pasting.
Girls working on collages.
Some of the marvellous works produced by the Picture Post-ers can be seen below, and the rest can be seen on Flickr.
Last Saturday, the group took a guided tour of the Swindon Mail Centre, and were taught to think like a photographer by the guys from Artsite. Some of the photos they took, of sorting machines, vehicles and postal workers, are now on Flickr. They will also be turned into postcards.
For more information about the work that Sheena, Sally and Andy do in providing a hub for the Swindon community to engage in, understand and appreciate contemporary art and culture, please visit the Artsite website, or visit the Post Modern Gallery (a converted Post Office) in Theatre Square, Swindon.