A somewhere project by Nina Pope & Karen Guthrie

One day in history

Wednesday, October 18, 2006 – 1:10 PM
by Nina


Domestic Life
Domestic Life
I love this picture of Danny from Michaelmas

I've just reached tape 50 in the mammoth task of logging all our footage from Kentwell this year ... I celebrated with time off to write a Blog for 'One day in history' ... no surprises as to who it featured ...

"I woke up to Radio 4 and heard about ‘One Day in History’. I knew I’d be spending most of my day ‘in’ 1578 so I thought I would write about that. I’m currently logging all the footage for a documentary (made with my collaborator Karen Guthrie) about the 3 weeks we spent this summer living as Tudors at Kentwell Hall in Suffolk.

This means a lot of my time is spent thinking about history, the domestic, ‘new’ technologies and fast-forwarding or rewinding in time.

My day began with the arrival of a small piece of recent domestic history facilitated by the fantastic contemporary phenomena that is eBay. I bought a ‘Graceline’ coffee-set made by Branksome China, it looks like it’s from the 30’s but wasn’t in fact designed until 1945. The family company that made this pattern went on to design other ranges which they still manufacture today, although they may close at Christmas bringing 50 years of historical continuity to an end.

I spent the morning logging footage from Kentwell using our old PD150 camera and laptop. I guess in some ways this is an activity that can’t have changed that much since the advent of film, whatever your footage has been shot on you need to know exactly what’s on it before you start to make a film. However, what is new to me is that this ‘film’ was shot using High Definition technology and one of the first digital cameras to be able to shoot at variable frame rates in progressive mode. Boring to most people, but interesting for us as it allows you to make HD footage actually look more like film!

After 3 tapes I take a break, and go on-line to check my email. I work part-time at the Royal College of Art on the ‘Design Interactions’ course and I want to see if there are any messages relating to our current project. This is about ‘enhanced humans’ and design issues relating to topics such as gene therapy, psycho-pharmacology, cosmetic surgery, cybernetics, radical life extension etc., all highly controversial topics currently in the media. When described the project to the students last week it made me think about being at the Tudor re-creation and how one of the participants there thought about the Tudors. By re-creating Tudor life you are trying to imagine yourself going back in time in the same way as we are asking the students to imagine moving forward in time. This year ‘Blackie’ (his Tudor name) talked to us about how he knew that Tudors were physically no different to us … many may have been smaller but this was due to bad diet rather than any genetic difference. As an example he cited wealthy Tudors who seemed to be freakishly tall but in fact were just able to reach their growth potential due to a better diet. This seemed, to me, to be the Tudor equivalent of an ‘enhanced human’ for that time. He could also tell you a great deal about Tudor archers – the ‘pumped’ athletes of their day with arms & skills which would certainly seem ‘enhanced’ today.

Inspired by thinking about the re-creation I logged into the Yahoo group that most of the participants are members of … someone had beaten me to it and already posted the URL for this project. After this I had to face the Excel spreadsheets that are my accounts. Again although accounts are superficially boring they do reveal a lot about day to day life – many of the re-enactors find information about working class Tudors from wills – I guess similar to accounts.

In the evening, with my partner, we took our winter clothes out of storage and packed away the summer ones. Some of them had been completely eaten by moths … some things, it seems, never change."

sometime later