None of the children attending either of the schools on each side of the Skye bridge have experience of life before the bridge, which opened in 1995 linking these two communities in a new way. Once the bridge was built Caledonian MacBrayne who run the island ferries on the west coast of Scotland no longer had a licence to operate. It is now a short walk or ten minutes in a car or by public transport.
ATLAS and the project collaborators Kyleakin Local History Society were keen to share their heritage with this generation. Many of the children and their parents were new to the area and Travelling the Archive provided an opportunity to do just that. Alison MacLennan head teacher of the Kyle and Kyleakin primary cluster schools had been to the opening event and was very excited about the prospect.
ATLAS proposed that the children should be given the chance to experience an authentic slideshow of the images in the manner in which Joan Wilcock and her friends in Manchester would have viewed her holiday slides.The Skye and Lochalsh Archive Centre archivist Anne MacDonald was also very excited at the prospect of taking the collection to the children in this way. It was fortunate that they had an old projector in “the cupboard” and it still worked.
In order to share the memories that had been uncovered by the artist whilst working with the community, two members of the Kyleakin Local History Society joined in to lead memory walks in Kyleakin and went into the school to talk with the children as they explored the images and stories behind them.
At the end of June the pupils from both schools came together for two days in Kyle of Lochalsh Primary. Sixty children and staff were split into small groups. Each group experienced a walk and a presentation by the archivist of a selection of the original slides followed by a deeper exploration and discussion of the images.
The children were encouraged to draw or use words in response to their favourite images which were later worked up into finished pieces and set against the photograph in a similar manner to the format of the guide book. They also had the opportunity to handle the slides, the old projector and cameras that the archivist had brought with her.
During the Kyleakin walks some of the children were photographed in front of the photo banners and in the locations where Miss Wilcock took her original photographs of children playing in the streets. Some of these children are descendants of those in the photographs.
The following day musician, singer song writer and sound artist Hector MacInnes interviewed the pupils about their ideas for the future.
“It is sixty years since the images were taken by Miss Wilcock so lets get them to imagine the future…60 years on from now”.
Hector had the experience of working in innovative ways with primary school pupils and he encouraged a response to the what the pupils had discovered about their heritage.The younger pupils played sound games which were used to provide the sound effects for the final piece a futuristic vision of Kyle and Kyleakin.