Call to save the video generation for the nation

Published: 12 November 2010

A nationwide appeal for descriptions of video film depicting childhood in Scotland during the 1980s and ‘90s has been issued by researchers at the University of Glasgow.

A nationwide appeal for descriptions of video film depicting childhood in Scotland during the 1980s and ‘90s has been issued by researchers at the University of Glasgow.

In collaboration with the Scottish Screen Archive (SSA), the University wants to help save video film of children - at school, hospital, playing in the street, attending public events - for posterity before it is too late and the historical material is lost forever.

Dr Karen Lury, the principal investigator for the project said: “Remember the Buggles song, Video killed the Radio Star’? Well, ironically it is now the video generation of non-commercial film-makers and their work that are in danger of extinction. Corky

“The Scottish Screen Archive is bursting with films of children: from films showing clinics for children with rickets in the 1930s to moody teenagers in the 1970s. But once we reach the age of video it stops. Where were Thatcher’s children? Did the relative cheapness of video mean that they were allowed to film themselves? How did they see the world and each other?”

The new project, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), aims to locate amateur video makers active between 1980-2000 to see what happened to Scottish children and childhood from the 1980s and beyond.

Dr Karen Lury said: “Our project is determined to find these movie-makers working in video to understand how this soon to be forgotten media defined a generation living and growing up in Scotland over a period of huge social and political change – from the poll tax riots to the era of ‘Glasgow’s Smiles Better’ and beyond.”

Working in collaboration with an archivist based at the SSA, the academic project team are actively seeking donations of videos made between 1980 and 2000 to extend the existing collection held at the National Library of Scotland. Anyone wanting to contribute to the project should visit the website: for instructions on how to take part but no videos should be sent - the small research team require a description of the material first.

Using the unique evidence preserved by the SSA’s current holdings and contrasting this with the video material yet to be collected the research team will explore how Scottish children lived and how childhood in Scotland was represented by local movie-makers – in schools, via community education projects, for children’s homes and in the ambitious productions of the many Scottish cine and video societies.

Aside from books and research papers, the project will involve a public archive screening at the Glasgow Film Theatre, educational resources available online and an exhibition at the Museum of Childhood in Edinburgh.

Further information:
Martin Shannon, Senior Media Relations Officer
University of Glasgow Tel: 0141 330 8593

The project is led by Dr Karen Lury a reader in Film and Television Studies. The project’s full time Research Assistant is Dr Ryan Shand. The academic project team are based in the School of Culture and Creative Arts at the University of Glasgow. Kay Foubister, the project archivist, is based at the National Library of Scotland/Scottish Screen Archive.  The project will run until 2014.

First published: 12 November 2010