Supporting communities to capture local history

31st March 2016

Memory Tree

A grant of £500 from the Tandridge Community Fund supported the installation of a Memory Tree at the Caterham Festival 2015.The Caterham Memory Tree, a sound art sculpture and oral history archive project, was the brainchild of local award winning classical musician and sound artist Julie Groves.

Exhibited at St Lawrence’s Ancient Church throughout the first ten days of June the project collected, preserved and shared over 300 memory sound clips with visitors in a soundscape which lasted over two hours and emanated from ‘fruits’ in the Tree.

“What a joy – really touching and beautiful how the voices fade in and out as you pass along and around the tree finding another voice to listen to.”

The project encouraged shared community conversation and dialogue of shared local memories between people of all ages. The Memory Tree provided an interactive and dynamic way for these oral histories, which would otherwise fade over time, to be preserved and shared in an accessible way. See more photos of the project here.

Julie explains, “When a group meets for recordings, three times as many people engage in chat about the local area and history as actually record their memories. A number of elderly and more isolated residents have been visibly moved and affected by the opportunity of spending 30 minutes recollecting their personal memories with another person who considers them valuable and worth recording.”

The project played a central role in the Caterham Festival 2015 engaging people of all ages in local history and memory. There were over 600 visitors to the installation – some of whom left touching comments in a visitor’s book, of which a selection are shared below;

“So good to learn so much about Caterham – a great project – my dad was a contributor which means his and other people’s memories will carry on through the years!”

“What a wonderfully atmospheric way to hold people’s memories and share them.”

“This is fab – nothing like I imagined but totally better and amazing. What a wonderful way to preserve local history and make it accessible to so many people. Incredibly thoughtful – love it!”

“I found out things today mum has never told me before! Brilliant.”

“Well done Julie – brought back many memories and wonderful to hear other people’s memories. Learnt a lot about Caterham – wonderful personal stories.”