As I learnt the bees representing society working together

The Battersea Art Center in Collaboration with Wandsworth Collection Archive instigated a community art project.  Chelsea MAFA and MA Curation students have been invited to take part in the pilot project titled: HOPE.  The project’s aim is to use a traditional museum collection and exhibit it in new and innovative ways through community engagement.

We met at the Battersea Art Center with Susan Bridge, an artist with a long history of archival and community practice, who will lead the project. The building has a fascinating history and a refreshingly contemporary attitude towards the arts, which encourages the use of the whole building for a multitude of disciplines, be it theater, dance or visual arts; allowing complete freedom for new ideas to emerge.

We had the privilege to visit the Wandsworth Museum Collection Archive. It was a fascinating place, a treasure trove of local history from all areas, covering domestic, industrial, political, trade, and immigration; just to mention a few. It felt like a childhood dream of mine come true…. finding an abandoned old house and going through everything.


There were heart-wrenching personal stories, intertwined with the brutality of wars and political struggle. There were nostalgic childhood memories from all through the ages. Photographs and printed materials of the local past going back to Victorian times.

I think I speak for all who attended when I say we could have camped out in the archive for weeks engaging with the materials.

I am very excited in regards to this wonderful opportunity, and looking forward to working with local people and connecting their stories to the collection.


Monika Tobel