Category Archives: Re-enactment

Beyond Artefacts?

I was at a loss as to what to do the weekend before last so I took myself off to one of the Heritage Open Days. As I’ve said previously having a bit of a soft spot for all things 18th century and re-enactment I went to the event at Quebec House. Although I’ve concentrated on new ways objects and collections can be highlighted, I’ve tended to keep to all things digital. So today I’m going to the opposite end and talking about a physical way of bringing objects to life, specifically re-enactment.

Guard at Quebec House

The idea of recreating past events is not a new one; in fact the Romans were partial to a bit of recreating the past, in what was known as Naumachiae. Naumachiae being the term for naval re-enactment and the venue in which they took place. Caesar going as far to have a basin built in the Campus Mauritius, where 4,000 oarsman and 2,000 fighters fought a recreated battle costumed as Tyranians and Egyptians. One interesting thing to note is that Rome was not involved in these fights, in case the wrong side won!

Camp at Quebec House

What is increasingly popular idea is that of bringing the past to life through carrying out normal tasks. Increasingly even battle re-enactment will incoportate some sort of camp in which daily tasks such of the past such as sewing, cooking, drill and fatigue duties are carried out better known as living history.

18th Century Surgeon

When you think about it the foundation of re-enactment is really about recreating material culture from the past and using it, be it clothes, a simple sewing needle or reading a drill manual(arguments about standards of reproduction and interpretation are for another day!).

Blowing bubbles with a clay pipe

I think seeing a close reproduction of historical objects in daily use in the right context can bring objects in display cases and houses to life. It will never replace a priceless original, but it does illustrate how it was used and can allow people to engage with the object. It can go beyond being an artefact.

Of course this is just my opinion and certainly opinion is divided on the topic. For instance another Walsh referred to re-enacting as ‘shallow titillation’!

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Filed under Living History, National Trust, Re-enactment

Who was General James Wolfe?

I visited Quebec House on Friday and after a bit of confusion finding my way from the car park to the House I was very impressed with what I saw. I may be a bit of a military history geek, but I thought the place was really interesting. For those who haven’t made the trip to General James Wolfe’s childhood home I highly recommend it. You can even drink port (although I didn’t as I was driving!).

One of things that came out of my visit was using youtube to set up a channel specifically for Quebec House, which I have done. I have also uploaded an introduction video produced by the BBC, which can be seen below (It has 17 hits so far!).

I’m going to do three different simple videos using items from the collections to tell some of the stories and themes relating to Wolfe and his story. One about the long Siege of Quebec in 1759 which ended with the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, but is largely forgotten in the Wolfe story. Then one highlighting the destruction of Quebec, something perhaps felt most by the inhabitants of Quebec today and still a sticky subject if the calling off of the 2009 re-enactment in Quebec is anything to go from. The third and final video is going to involve a placement student talking about some of the art work surrounding Wolfe.

I’ll let you know how I get on with creating my videos, but I’m open to any suggestions which might help! Which do you think will get the most interest?

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Filed under Collections, National Trust, Re-enactment, Social Media, Uncategorized, Youtube