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Museum treasures sparked writings

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By Fiona Reid
Museum treasures sparked writings

A GROUP of writers have worked together to produce an illustrated book of creative non-fiction.

The 107 page volume, entitled ‘Undiscovered Treasures: All in a Day’s Work’, is the culmination of a writing project led by Powfoot’s Vivien Jones.

It had objects from the Devil’s Porridge Museum at Eastriggs at its heart and explaining more, Vivien said: “This is the third writing project I have organised with museums in our region, with new writing imagined from examining artefacts in their care.

“The Devil’s Porridge is a highly specific facility that records the history of a very special stretch of land that played a vital part in The Great War and, to a lesser extent, in the Second World War. Through its collection of artefacts, some of them seemingly insignificant, it summons up the lives of the ‘ordinary’ people who lived and laboured around the great munitions factories along the Solway; not ‘ordinary’ at all.”

She gathered 14 writers in May this year to examine museum objects chosen by an archivist and education officer. All the participants had an interest in ‘creative non-fiction’ – writing fiction from research materials in an effort to animate the past and give new life to the artefacts they were allocated.

Two workshops were held before writing began, with everyone then sent home with their object and background notes to help them get started. Peer critique sessions were held on the works in progress.

Vivien said: “This book is the result of all that work and reflection. I have been surprised and delighted at the quality of the writing. I hope readers are too.

“We gave our book a subtitle – All in a Day’s Work – which is a reflection of how extraordinary the lives of the people recorded were.

“In their time, in their domestic lives, especially in their employment, a day’s work might include risking death or threatening their own health in making armaments, feeling grief when a husband or best boy went missing at the Front, or carrying out acts of courage in sudden emergencies.

“In many ways they lived life moment by moment in the face of unwanted chaos.”

A series of readings are planned to mark the book’s publication, they will take place at The Devil’s Porridge Museum on Sunday at 3 pm; Annan Museum on September 17 at 2 pm; and as part of the Wigtown Book Festival on October 2, 3 pm at the Print Room.


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By Fiona Reid | DNG24