Chesterfield Champion, Junction Arts has linked up with the historic North Derbyshire landmark, Hardwick Hall to deliver a project aimed at inspiring and empowering local people.
‘This Girl Codes’ is a Junction Arts project funded by National Lottery Heritage Fund and The People’s Postcode Lottery. The project uniquely uses arts, science, technology and maths to give new interpretation and relevance to the rich heritage in and around Chesterfield.
This Girl Codes aims to empower and inspire people of all ages and genders through the stories of strong women in history such as Bess of Hardwick and Florence Nightingale. Taking inspiration from their work, lives and homes to inspire creative outcomes that build science, maths and technology skills in playful ways.
It is an aim of This Girl Codes to work with different heritage partners each year; in 2020 the project worked with English Heritage at Bolsover Castle. Junction Arts have built a good relationship with Hardwick Hall through working together on previous projects.
The partnership this year has drawn on the themes of light, data science and conservation. Hardwick Hall has a significant textiles collection to conserve including The Noble Women embroideries which are around 450 years old. Both organisations wanted to convey the importance of this work to the public and how The National Trust monitor and control light within a property locally known as ‘Hardwick Hall more glass than wall’.
During 2021 Junction Arts have worked with home educators, Tibshelf School, Rhubarb Farm, Forest schools, families and individuals collecting light data, creating ‘Data Selfies’ and more.
In July they held the first ‘Curiosity Academy’ at Hardwick Hall for participants to delve deeper into the history on site and explore steganography – the practice of concealing messages. Over three days they welcomed over 40 people to the Academy, from ages 6-83! Lead artist Cora Glasser and technologist Claire Garside guided participants through creative activities inspired by hidden messages in Tudor times right up to NASA’s Mars Rover landing.
The Curiosity Academy encouraged all ages to be inquisitive, think creatively and decode messages in historic and contemporary images. All participants experienced Hardwick Hall in new and exciting ways, learned about binary code and how to create images using UV light.
Participants said “The history is really playful, relevant and inspiring. The same code can be translated so many ways. The behind the scenes tour and insider information has made us want to plan another visit.”
The project has been working towards a co-created, collaborative art piece which will be designed and made by artist Cora Glasser using participant’s artwork. The piece will be exhibited at Hardwick Hall later this year.
Jemma Burton, Project Co-ordinator said: “We’re so pleased to be engaging a diverse range of ages and backgrounds with this fantastic heritage and bringing the stories to new audiences in exciting ways.”
This Girl Codes will continue into 2022 working with a new heritage partner and there will be another Curiosity Academy next summer. Anyone can get involved with the project including schools and community groups. If you are interested in hearing about the upcoming activities email firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to the mailing list or call 01246 209219.
Junction Arts’ work across Bolsover, North East Derbyshire and Chesterfield supports communities, improves well-being and provides access and opportunity in the arts for everyone.
The group also supports the marketing and economic growth of the town through Chesterfield Champions, a network of over 180 organisations across Chesterfield and North Derbyshire.