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Creative family fun this half-term with Suffolk Archives

October 23, 202010:00 amNovember 10, 2020 1:39 pmLeave a Comment

Suffolk Archives has teamed up with The Big Draw Festival to run two competitions during the October half-term break (26 Oct – 1 Nov 2020).   

The two drawing competitions, one countywide and one focused on Lowestoft, are planned around the festival theme, ‘A climate of change,’ and are inspired by unique items from the Suffolk Archives collections.   

Countywide competition 
This challenge, ‘Capturing change’, asks both children and adults to document something that they see changing in Suffolk, such as buildings being demolished or built, or changes you see in nature, or perhaps even in your back garden! 

The inspiration behind this challenge is Valerie Irwin’s fantastic charcoal sketches, which document the transformation of Ipswich waterfront during the demolition of the Cranfield Mill site. Valerie visited the site almost every day for four years and ultimately completed 4,500 A2-sized charcoal drawings. A selection of these can now be seen as part of a semi-permanent display at The Hold, the new Suffolk Archives building on Ipswich waterfront.  

Families are welcome to come and visit The Hold to see the display – displayed at such a large scale, the sketches are very strikingThe building has been open since the end of September, with new measures introduced to ensure it is COVID-Secure. It is also possible to complete the challenge from home without visiting. 

Lowestoft competition
The Lowestoft challenge, ‘Capturing your local area’, is taking place as part of the NessFest arts festival and is open to young people aged 11-19.  

This competition is inspired by a beautiful sketchbook depicting 19th century Lowestoft, which is held by Suffolk Archives. The artist, Richenda Cunningham, part of a prominent Lowestoft Quaker family, began her formal art training at just 10 years old and continued to draw for the rest of her life. Her sketches have been digitised, which means they will be able to be viewed digitally at the Suffolk Archives Lowestoft branch when it reopens next month. 

Perhaps you could you draw your favourite place, or somewhere familiar that you pass every day. Or how about a new place – somewhere local you discovered during lockdown?  

Both competitions can be done with materials you already have at home, or alternatively a limited number of resource packs are available to collect from The Hold, or on request from Suffolk Archives (all packs will be quarantined for 72 hours before distribution to ensure safety). To request a pack, please either email  or call 01473 296677. The deadline for entries is Friday 6 November 2020.  

The competitions have been arranged by Hannah Salisbury and Mandy Rawlins, Community Learning Officers for Suffolk Archives, to emphasise the importance of keeping records, and the importance of archive collections. 

Mandy said: “One key function of archives is to keep a record of what is happening as the world changes around us, and the way these records are made can vary hugely. It is wonderful to have these fantastic, but very different, examples which clearly show how drawings and sketches play such a key role in preserving the history of our county.”  

Hannah added: “Today it seems we are surrounded by change and development so we hope that these competitions will encourage people to look at, and respond creatively to, the relationship we have with our living environments and ecosystems – how do we live today, and do we, or don’t we, harmonise with nature?”   

Full details are available on the Suffolk Archives website, including a link to request a materials pack:   

This activity is taking place thanks to the National Lottery Heritage Fund supported The Hold project, which is enabling communities to discover more about the history of where they live and to share it in new and engaging ways. 

The Big Draw is the world’s largest drawing festival, which promotes drawing as a tool for learning, expression, and invention. 

Written by Jennie Hutchinson

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