Scrapbooks: Elizabeth Fry at The MERL

Elizabeth Fry Charity has been collaboratively working with the Museum of English Rural Life (MERL), Reading, for many years. They have delivered a number of art projects on premises and at the museum, providing residents with a creative outlet. These projects are always well received by staff and residents and some wonderful work has been created. Phillippa Heath, Learning and Engagement Manger, from MERL provides an overview of our most recent project.

"As part of this project, participants began by exploring the MERL collections and some of the people stories behind the objects and displays. The Museum Archivist introduced them to some amazing historical scrapbooks, such as one belonging to Floris in the 1930s. As the pages of her scrapbook were turned, we saw that Floris used her scrapbook to collect recipes and stories.

Using these historical documents and stories as inspiration, over the next five weeks participants began to develop their own scrapbooks. Some chose to reflect their life at Elizabeth Fry and in Reading depicting this period of their life with photos, appointment times or bus or train tickets. Others decided to focus on showing what they love such as cars or gardening. Some featured inspirational quotes and positive messages. Others used their scrapbooks, to highlight loss. Belongings they once had; photos or documents that they once had; or people who have inspired them.

At the end of the workshop series, participants showcased their scrapbooks at The MERL alongside Floris’ which inspired them.

It was an amazing project which was tackled differently by everyone who took part. Everyone took away their scrapbooks, which were at various stages of completion, and hopefully they will stay with them as a new chapter of their lives begins."

Scrapbooks: Elizabeth Fry at The MERL