New oral history archive for the Tees Valley
July to November 2018, Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (MIMA). We create a new oral history archive for the Tees Valley in collaboration with residents, researchers, and activists. This draws together the experiences of migrants from the widest spectrum of backgrounds. This activity maps alternative routes of migration, labour, relationships and affects through personal narratives in the largely unheard, often undocumented, voices of local people.
Throughout 2018, MIMA hosted a series of conversations around the importance of migration in the development of Middlesbrough and the Tees Valley. The oral histories and graphic illustration that document these conversations draw together the experiences of migrants from the widest spectrum of backgrounds. This activity maps alternative routes of migration, labour, relationships and affects through personal narratives in the largely unheard, often undocumented, voices of local people. By looking at both longer histories of migration and contemporary experiences, the project aimed to support people to find synergies between seemingly divergent experiences. This endeavour was a reaction to the lack of narratives of migration that can be found in the area’s civic archives and an attempt to bring visibility to a range of voices and experiences.
At Community Day, MIMA’s weekly programme, and at community events, researcher Nicola Gasgoigne supported constituents to map their routes to the area, their motivations for travelling and for staying, their hopes, interests and traditions. The resulting diagrams were collated using digital network visualisation tool Graph Commons, which was developed by artist Burak Arikan. The overall ‘map’ visualises connections and cross overs between people from a range of backgrounds. To follow up on these conversations, Gasgoigne conducted in-depth interviews with a number of people, five of whom are represented in the audio piece. Some of those interviewed were new to the area and others had grown up here, the children of migrants; some were economic migrants while others sought sanctuary in UK as refugees.
The interviews were conducted by Nicola Gasgoigne. This work was supported by Dr Roisín Higgins, Teesside University.