Post-War sweets & ‘Unclaimed Babies’

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Writing a piece set in Coventry in the early 1920s was guaranteed to need thorough¬† research into the history of the city, but I didn’t realise it would also lead me to researching confectionery from that time period too.

After a lot of reading I’ve discovered that this particular decade gave us many sweets we still enjoy today including; Fruit Salads, Black Jacks, the Cadbury’s Flake, Sherbet Fountains and the classic Fruit and Nut bar.

I’ve also learnt about the rather unusual history of Jelly Babies, alleged to have been invented back in 1864 when a badly made jelly bear mould resulted in confections that looked more like toddlers and so was christened with the unlikely name, ‘Unclaimed Babies’. Although this sounds like a terrible marketing move now, historians assure us that back in Victorian times it wouldn’t even have raised an eyebrow:

“Unclaimed babies were a part of life back then – people would leave them on church steps and it’s possible that people even found the name amusing,”

Tim Richardson, Sweets: A History Of Temptation.

There’s much discussion around Unclaimed Babies becoming ‘Peace Babies’ in the 1920s, possibly to celebrate the end of World War One, and there are certainly images of Victorian packaging showing ‘Victory Babies’, along with adverts listing “dollies” and “totties” for sale.

Whatever you like to call them, I’m sure you can guess what I’m now wishing I had in the cupboard ūüôā

Resources to thank:

T glottaling and H dropping

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To try and make my story as authentic as possible I have not only been looking into the history of our city but also at how Coventry’s accent has changed over time.

In December, last year, I attended a talk at the Herbert Art Gallery’s Archives with Dr. Christopher Strelluf, a sociolinguist at Warwick University, who played us a beautiful selection of local sound recordings from the archive’s collection so we could hear exactly what Coventry’s accent sounded like many years ago.

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The recordings we heard varied from some very strong accents, that you had to really listen carefully to decipher, to a dialect much closer to the Coventry accent of today, but with a definite Black Country twang.

Dr. Strelluf pointed out particular words, sounds, and grammatical features that are very specific to the Coventry accent in the past and how some of those features still remain in today’s local dialect.

Back in the 1920’s T glottaling and H dropping¬†were very common.

If you’ve not heard of t glottaling before then this video below explains it far better than I can hope to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sHaN4jHBGVk

‘Were’ was also used a lot as a replacement for ‘was’ and dropping ‘the’ from sentences was very common, i.e.¬† ‘going pub’
Getting to listen to this secret window into the past, through simple sound recordings, felt like a real privilege and I hope the Archives are able to put on more events like this, once they can safely reopen.
Further resources to explore:
West Midlands English:Birmingham and the Black Country
Accents of England
English Dialects
The English West Midlands : Phonology
A handbook of varieties of English : A multimedia reference
Ideology
Surveys of English dialects

 

 

Media Production students launch crowdfunding project to finance new film

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A group of ten Media Production students at Coventry University have banded together to try and raise $500 to fund a new project, showcasing a mix of still images and cinemagraphs to create an exciting new form of animation.

The¬†project started when the second year students were introduced to Maddy Ryder, a third year Creative Writing student, who had just finished writing a script called ‘The Story of Toys’. Set in the future the script tells the story of one mouse’s struggle through everyday life in an oversized world. Influenced by George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, as well as recent current events; the story¬†depicts a¬†world that has become uninhabitable¬†by¬†humans. Following¬†their evacuation to other¬†planets, the abandoned, now redundant¬†toys find themselves new jobs, not so dissimilar to our own.

“We hope ‘The Story of Toys’ will be a film to make people think as well as to entertain them.”

The students need to raise funds for their ‘cast’; essentially a large selection of toys and a one of a kind¬†handmade mouse toy who will¬†take the leading role in the film, so they have set up an Indiegogo crowdfunding page to try and raise the money required.

“The people and students of Coventry have been amazing helping us with donations. One lady even donated some dolls for us to use as ‘extras’ on set. But we still need to raise more funds and if anyone can donate, or even just share our campaign on social media, we would be most grateful.”

https://www.indiegogo.com/project/the-story-of-toys-animation/embedded/15936160

University students take to the subways of Coventry to hold Urban Photography Exhibition

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Last week seven Coventry University students held an impromptu pop up photography exhibition in the subways below Coventry’s infamous ring road.

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The second year Media Production students designed the exhibition to show how urban life and nature have evolved to live side by side in the 21st century, and debuted urban scenes from around the local area and Europe.

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The images were contrasted against projections of nature video footage that played on the subway’s ceiling and all visitors to the exhibition were provided with headphones and a downloadable soundscape so they could enjoy the sounds of nature as they¬†walked around¬†the exhibition.

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The students were greatly inspired by the work of Cork Analogue Photographers who collaborated with Guerrilla Exhibition back in 2011 to showcase their art on derelict shop faces along the streets of Dublin.

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Cork Analogue Photographers/Guerrilla Exhibition, Dublin, 2011

A small group of friends and family turned out for the early evening event, on one of the coldest weeks this January, but the students told us the highlight of the exhibition was seeing the reaction of surprised passers by as they walked home through the subways and happened upon the group’s art work.

“Seeing people, at first confused, but then heartened by our work¬†really made the whole project so worthwhile”

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Arts Gymnasium

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This week I interviewed for, and secured, a job as a Photography Assistant working for the DMLL in conjunction with Age Concern Coventry and the local Belgrade Theatre. The photography would be used to document weekly drama sessions, to show the participants their progress and would also be a way¬†to relay this progress to Coventry University’s research team and their backers. The project¬†will run for approximately 11 weeks, culminating with a photography exhibition and film screening of the work produced at the Belgrade Theatre to¬†students, the general public and the University’s research team.

“Arts Gymnasium is part of the Belgrade Theatre‚Äôs Community & Education programme, and uses theatre and arts activities to contribute to the quality of life and positive well-being of people living in Coventry. These sessions are exclusively for people aged 50 and over, and run once a week during school term time at the Belgrade Theatre.”

In my role as Photography Assistant, working alongside a small film crew who I will also be assisting at times, I will need to make the drama students as comfortable as possible with having me and my camera around. So, for the first few weeks, I will be attending sessions without my camera and just taking part in classes, alongside students, so they can get to know me and exactly why I’m there. Hopefully once they know more about my role¬†and how I can help them tell their stories through my photography, and through the film crew’s documentary, I am hoping they will welcome us into their group.

Pepakura

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As part of International Women’s Week Coventry’s FabLab hosted a¬†Pepakura Papercraft session at the WOW Cafe in the City Arcade today.

Pepakura is a Japanese form of papercraft, similar to origami. But whereas origami involves making an object from a single sheet of paper, using just folding techniques, pepakura incorporates cutting and gluing to make a more complex 3D construction.

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The paper model being made and decorated at the session today was a 3D sculpture of a rabbit by the German artist Jan Krummrey. Jan has been making and designing pepakuras for many years and is famous for his DIY¬†tutorials on instuctables.com. If you missed today’s session, but would like to have a go at making your own bunny in time for Easter, there is another Pepakura Papercraft workshop at 2pm on Saturday 12th March at Sapphire Papercuts, also located in the City Arcade, Coventry.

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For further information please contact Heather Parker. tel: 0780 800 2005 email: heather.parker@coventry.ac.uk

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There are many more events going on around the city over the next few days¬†to celebrate Interntional Women’s Week. From a play at Coventry’s¬†Belgrade Theatre, to Open Mic nights and Pampering sessions. To find out what’s happening in your area check out the official website below.

http://covwomensweek.org