Sarah Silverwood on Mass Observation: Artist Talk @ LPAP

Until last week, Sarah Silverwood's Mass Observation was the backdrop to everything we did at Longbridge Public Arts Project. On the walls in the unit were a series of questions for the general public to come in and answer with markers. However, this was merely the tip of the iceburg.

The original Mass Observation was founded in the 1930s, to uncover social habits of 'ordinary people' that usually go unrecorded. Currently, the archives are available at the University of Sussex. The type of things were unrecorded (or underecorded, I assume) back in the 30s vary from the things that will be forgotten about 2016. That said, the underlying principle of leaving a record of things usually forgotten remains the same.

Sarah told us that a big part of Longbridge Mass Observation was that it was a quiet artistic intervention. I think it's a really good model for researching and developing socially sensitive illustration, especially for someone like me, who's quite shy and has enjoyed reportage projects in the past.

After having a think about what kind of things may be difficult to find recordings of in 30 years time, we had half an hour to do our own small mass observation of Longbridge. Some of our contributions are live on the LMO website. I'm definitely hoping to get something in Sarah's archive, once I make my notes decipherable!