The Half Memory Project invites artists and musicians working with sound and the moving image to unearth material from the vast collections of Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums. The archives which are open to the public contain over half a million records including photos, illustrations, artefacts, diaries and more.
Newcastle troubadour Richard Dawson was invited to search through the archive which resulted in his album The Glass Trunk. Our good friend Harry Wheeler over at Architects of Harmonic Rooms made this film which features an in-depth interview with Richard on the project:
“Last summer Tyne & Wear Archives and Museums (a man called John) asked me to take part in the project ‘Half Memory’. The basic remit seemed straightforward enough: You are to go into Tyne & Wear Archives (a vast network of underground tunnels and caves stretching halfway across Newcastle) and search for anything. Once you’ve found what you’re looking for make half an hour of music.
I spent the following month down there rifling through two-hundred year old diaries, unfurling bundles of love-letters like flowers, staring at the faces of petty criminals in old photograph albums, eating supermarket sushi suspended above Turbinia, saying every name in an orphanage registry under my breath, getting lost in a field where my house should have been, watching folk watch other folk over the top of their spectacles, gingerly lifting leaves long folded with perfume, falling asleep in my chair of sun, drooling little spittle puddles onto a cracked map of Nunsmoor. The stories I stumbled across were often painful, shocking, generally fascinating and occasionally joyous. They belong to people living at a different point in time from us. At first they seem so far away but after a short while they begin to move closer (or maybe it’s we who are moving?) and I start to comprehend, just barely, a great aliveness – past, present and future.
I hope it’s not didactic or leading for me to tell you ‘The Glass Trunk’ is concerned with the functions and consequences of violence, as well as with opposing forces – creation and destruction, memory and time, birth and death, body and soul. There is another important theme throughout: Family”.