Last June Susan from Coldharbour Mill contacted me about an ambitious project to document the history and achievements of the Mill’s founding Fox family, and display the information in an exhibition. She wanted to know if I could design the interpretation boards, which sounded like a really interesting project. I told Susan I would be delighted to help.
A big undertaking
In January of this year Susan let me know that she had received the necessary funding for the project. When the information started to flow through I realised what a big undertaking this was. Over 200 years of history in the form of historic facts, family anecdotes, archived photos and documents spanning eight generations and more than thirty family members.
With twelve different boards displaying a variety of information the exhibition needed a robust and flexible layout that would allow all the boards to communicate their individual messages clearly, whilst maintaining a coherent presentation style to tie the exhibition together. It took me some time, but after three or four attempts I created a board layout that worked, and produced the first drafts to send to Susan (I’ll cover the boards’ design in more detail in a future post).
Over the next few weeks we refined the information and images on each board; enabling them to better tell the story of the Fox Family and the social and societal changes that shaped and influenced their lives.
At this point in the project I was surprised to receive an invitation to the opening of the exhibition; a daunting prospect considering the boards were still undergoing a number of edits. The boards were sent off to the printer on time however, and everything was ready for the opening day.
The sun was shining when I arrived at Coldharbour Mill excited to see the finished boards together for the first time. The exhibition was on the second floor, and there were around 30 people in attendance including local VIPs and dignitaries, members of the Fox family, and the Mill’s team of volunteer archivists.
The highlight of the day for me was meeting Leanette. She delighted in leading me across the exhibition to point out her father and grandfather, sharing her memories of them both. She was clearly delighted to see her father’s life commemorated in print. It highlighted that this exhibition was about the history of a family first a foremost. Thank you Leanette.
The Foxes: A Family Business will be a semi-permanent fixture at Coldharbour. There are also plans for it to be displayed at other venues in the local area. If you’re interested in seeing it keep your eyes on Coldharbour Mill’s Twitter page for more information.