23 April 2021
Posted by Adrian Harris
Writer in Residence at Poole Museum - Final Blog by Adrian Harris
A long time ago, far far away, in a time before Covid and lockdowns, January 2020 to be precise, I had the incredibly good fortune to begin work, through the wonderful organisation Artfulscribe, as the writer in residence at Poole Museum.
The project would last for twelve months and include producing some bespoke digital work for the museum as a way of bringing some artefacts to life, and community engagement with both adult writing groups and primary school children. However, as we all know the world turned upside down with a global pandemic that caused a great many sad losses as well as incredible uncertainty. Even though a large part the project was forced online and was extended far beyond the original twelve months, with the fantastic support of the team at Poole Museum and Artfulscribe, I managed to accomplish all my goals and engage with some marvellously talented members of the community.
So, what news to draw this project to a close?
After completing my script to give a voice to the beautiful carved rudder of the 17th Century Dutch merchant ship the Fame, this artefact is being brought to life through computer animation. I’ve been working with an extremely gifted bunch at the National Centre for Computer Animation at Bournemouth University, who have begun to craft glorious 3D images of the ship and the carving itself. I have recorded the voice for the wooden man, and the team of animators and myself have been meeting regularly to piece together the tale of how this immensely important maritime artefact came to reside in Poole. Very soon, as lockdown rules are eased and public spaces such as the museum become public once more, you will be able to watch this short film that will hopefully engage, inform and entertain visitors with the tale of the Swash Channel wreck.
The Swash Channel Wreck
The other script “wot I wrote”, is the tale of Poole’s famous or infamous pirate Harry Paye. This is a slightly tongue in cheek way of setting the record straight about Poole’s scandalous son, and encouraging visitors to learn more about the town’s history. Often Harry Paye is portrayed as a Jack Sparrow type of swashbuckler, but he was actually born at the end of the 14th Century long before Tricorn hats were even invented. Still, his reputation for piracy was entirely justified and it is even true that one of his endeavours resulted in getting the whole town of Poole drunk for a month, so you can see why he is much loved. This script was to be originally filmed in Poole with the help of a local actor, however Covid intervened again. So, with the assistance of a little green screen magic and the fact that my day job is being a professional actor, we were able to bring Harry to life. This film will also be shown as an addition to the collection in Poole Museum when it reopens soon.
As my residency at Poole comes to a close there are a couple of things I will be taking away with me. The first is that Poole Museum is a magnificent organisation driven by the passion of the amazing team that works tirelessly behind the scenes. The second is that the community, both the talented adults, and the fantastically enthusiastic and imaginative children who took part in creating short stories, poems and art work all inspired by the museum’s collection, truly lifted my soul throughout this unprecedented time. And lastly, the town of Poole has revealed itself to me and shown what a rich and wonderful heritage lies in every corner of its people and places. It really is a jewel to be shared, so please visit the town and enjoy the history and stories that Poole Museum have curated for all.