Story of Schools

17 May to 18 July 2021

‘Story of Schools’ that will feature as soon as the Museum re-opens and run till 18 July 2021. This includes a spectacular photo mosaic made from nearly 2,300 images of youth and school-life in the Upper Dales which were shared by the local community over eight weeks in autumn 2020. Local people of all ages have shared memories, family archives, and photographs for this project.

A Mosaic of Dales Youth was created by The People’s Picture, an art and design studio led by artist Helen Marshall. The photo tiles come together to reveal a whole new image – portraits of local people David Hodgson of Askrigg School, aged 7 in 1954, and Joan Miller of Yorebridge Grammar School, aged 12 in 1946. 

The exhibition will include interpretation, vintage and modern photographs, a short film and oral histories.  It marks the culmination of a project run by The NASH in partnership with the museum, and funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund and the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s Sustainable Development Fund.

The NASH Project Manager Emily Rowe Rawlence said: ‘Once we began delving into the history of The NASH, which is short for National School Hawes, we realised the landscape was peppered with little schools that played transformative roles, all with their own story to tell.  This exhibition maps them out and explores themes such as the changing journey to school, the tension between learning and earning and the life of teachers, ‘Kiddy Catchers’ and bus drivers. It’s amazing how much energy and effort goes into the making of a school.’

Fourteen oral history interviews took place with well-known local people who attended Upper Dales schools from the 1930s onwards. ‘Recording their stories has been a project highlight,’ said Ms Rowe Rawlence. ‘The exhibition is full of anecdotes, from filling pockets with bullets in WWII, to walking alone through brutal weather two miles to school and back at only five-years-old, to being sent down the pub to buy cigarettes for the headmaster at breaktime. Each person had a fascinating story to tell of a Dales childhood in the 30s, 40s, 50s or 60s. Together with the giant photo mosaic that is four and a half metres wide, they bring the last century to life.’

In 2021 Covid-permitting, we’ll be working alongside Upper Dales primary schools once more – inviting groups to The NASH for some immersive Victorian classroom sessions and working with Key Stage 2 either in person or via Teams/Zoom to explore their education heritage.

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