Sole2Soul: Narrate, Curate, Rejuvenate

About the project

"Generations have trod, have trod, have trod..." (Gerard Manley Hopkins)

Sole2Soul was funded by Arts Council England and commissioned by Leicester County Council. It was one of six project commissions for an umbrella project entitled ‘Click, Connect, Curate Create’. In the future, it is likely that these six projects will be replicated to serve multiple museums and collections.

The Sole2Soul project created new digital assets for the Falkner Boot and Shoe exhibit at Harborough Museum (Market Harborough). These included new creative writing (flash fiction, twitter fiction and poetry), photography and podcasts. The project was designed to increase Harborough Museum’s visitor numbers and to attract more online traffic to the Museum website.

Sole2Soul promotes meaningful intergenerational exchange between “silver champions” (project participants aged over 55) and teenagers about artefacts from the Boot and Shoe exhibit. The project concept is best expressed as follows: wise souls talk to teen souls about shoe soles. Silver champions will join forces with writers and curators to stimulate teenage engagement with Boot and Shoe artefacts. In response, teenage pupils from local schools will produce a web-gallery of “Future Curators” pages about the exhibit. In December 2014, all participants were invited to an event where the new digital assets were launched.

What we produced

"A man cannot make a pair of shoes rightly unless he do it in a devout manner." (Thomas Carlyle)

Sole2Soul provided new digital assets for the Falkner Boot and Shoe exhibit:

  • A mobile phone app for museum visitors
  • Creative writing produced during a creative writing workshop aimed at silver champions
  • Professional photographs of the Boot and Shoe exhibit
  • Photographic portraits of silver surfers holding artefacts from the exhibit
  • “Future Curators” webpages by teenagers, accompanied by podcasts about their experience
  • A radio programme about the project
  • 30 commissioned story tweets, pieces of flash fiction and poems

How the project worked

Phase one: Commission (8 April - 1 June 2014)

30 experienced writers visited the Boot and Shoe exhibit and produced 30 pieces of creative writing in the following forms, which are best suited to digital transmission: story tweets, flash fiction (200 words) and poems. These writers presented these creative pieces on social media platforms such as Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter.

A smartphone app was created and tested. The app encourages museum visitors to access the project’s digital assets. Visitors’ physical location in the museum prompts particular pieces of information or creative writing to appear on their phone screens.

Phase two: Narrate (2 - 30 June 2014)

Silver champions attended a creative writing workshop in the museum. Curators spoke to them about the Falkner Boot and Shoe exhibit. Workshop participants selected, and wrote about, an artefact from the collection. Their writing took the form of flash fiction, twitter fiction or poetry.

A radio producer was commissioned to make a programme about the Soul2Sole project.

A photographer was commissioned to produce portraits of workshop participants holding artefacts from the Boot and Shoe exhibit. In addition, the exhibit itself was professionally photographed.

Phase three: Curate (1 July - 30 October 2014)

Curate (verb): to select items according to personal taste, to draw attention to items which may have been overlooked and to communicate their importance in creative new ways. 

Teenagers from local schools attended three workshops at Harborough Museum. Curators guided pupils around the Boot and Shoe exhibit. Pupils were presented with all the creative writing produced about the Boot and Shoe exhibit produced during phase one (commission) and phase two (narrate). Pupils each responded to the exhibit and the creative writing by producing a webpage for a curators’ gallery called Future Curators. A podcast was produced to accompany each Future Curators webpage.

Phase four: Rejuvenate (1 November - 31 December 2014)

Rejuvenate: to restore, regenerate, revivify.

The Sole2Soul creative writing commissions were showcased at the Literary Leicester Fringe festival in November 2014.

Harborough Museum’s new digital assets was unveiled at a launch event in December 2014, to which curators, journalists, project participants and writers were invited.

About us

Dr Corinne Fowler is the Principal Investigator of Sole2Soul and is the Director of the Centre for New Writing. Dr Ming Lim is Principal Investigator of the AHRC-funded project ‘Affective Digital Histories: Re-Creating Britain's De-Industrialised Spaces, 1970s-present’. Dr Ruth Page is Principal Investigator of Transforming Thresholds, an AHRC-funded network which investigates the museum foyer and the media used in it.