July 26, 2013, by Lucy
‘Weather Walks, Weather Talks’ and the ‘Snows of Yesteryear’
So, why is winter weather, and particularly snow, our focus for this project?
The project is the result of a collaboration between two projects previously funded by AHRC under their call for ‘Enhancing the Role of Arts and Humanities Perspectives on Environmental Values and Change’, part of the Care for the Future theme. Both projects investigated records, accounts and memories of past weather and climate in remote areas of upland Britain created during the twentieth century. The geographical locations chosen by both teams have resulted in cold winter weather, particularly snow, dominating the narratives in the research materials utilised by both projects. The present projects thus share an interest in severe winters and snow falls in upland Britain during the twentieth century and the ‘snow champions’ that have observed, recorded, and tackled them.
Although predictions indicate that snow falls across Britain will be reduced as a result of global climatic change, snow presently remains a weather phenomenon that is loved and enjoyed, yet also feared for the disruption it causes, particularly in regard to mobility and transport.
I thought it would be useful to give a brief overview of the projects that informed ‘Snow Scenes’ and to point to the resources developed by them (a number of which we will be replicating during ‘Snow Scenes’ as part of our aim to share knowledge, experiences and technologies between the two teams).
Weather Walks, Weather Talks
This project looked at public understanding of climate and weather through two main activities; the production of a ‘weather talks memory bank’ of recordings http://www.rmets.org/weather-memory-bank (the bank is still open for contributions!); and through the creation of a ‘weather walk’, based on the archival collections of climatologist Gordon Manley, and using a prototype GPS-enabled mobile phone application. The audio walk is part of the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) initiative ‘Discovering Britain’. Based on materials from the Gordon Manley archives at the University of Cambridge and Durham University, the 10 mile walk tells the story of Manley’s work at the summit of Great Dun Fell. You can download our walk, titled ‘Troublesome Wind’ here: http://www.discoveringbritain.org/walks/region/north-west-england/great-dun-fell.html
If you’re going to be in Cumbria over the coming months and are able to do the walk please do get in touch with your feedback, experiences and photos! The team are currently busy preparing a number of academic papers based on both the archival research carried our and on the technology developed. We are also holding a one-day event on ‘Talking Weather’ in London at the RGS-IBG in August. Speakers will include John Kettley, the former BBC weather presenter who provided the narration for our walk….again get in touch if you would like to come along.
Snows of Yesteryear
This project explored the ways that extreme weather events are remembered and mythologised by the people of Wales, in order to interpret what is ultimately learned from them as both warning and opportunity. The project also involved digitising hundreds of pages of sources on historic weather from the National Library of Wales, including a number of Welsh almanacs and diaries that are now available to consult on the project Flickr site. Combining archival research into severe winters in Mid Wales, with a public appeal for snowy memories, the team then worked with the performance artist Eddie Ladd to create the performance work Dawns ysbrydion/Ghost Dance. You can read more about the project, and the weather memories collected by the team on the project blog: http://eira.llgc.org.uk/ A recording of the performance will be available from the site soon.