I like the questions that stop me in my tracks. Especially when I am training.
Picture this. I am in full flow in a workshop about how to make panels interesting, relevant etc. I have got to the bit about words and tone. I really like this, so I am surfing the wave here. I show pictures of panels that use a light tone and humour to good effect.
and more …
I change tack and point out that we can’t always do this. Sometimes our interpretation has to act as a memorial and then levity and humour are out of place.
I cite the interpretation on the Battle of Shrewsbury battlefield. That battle in July 1403 was a bloodbath. It was the first time both sides had the longbow and that proved a deadly combination. The way I heard it, even the victors were so shocked by the carnage they erected Battlefield church so prayers could be said for the dead on both sides. Grim, grim. Best not to crack jokes, I said. A more sombre tone is appropriate.
I then talked about other things … lots of them, probably …
… and ended up with, as my grand finale, some of my favourite interpretation produced by my friend and colleague, the laudable Nigel McDonald of no-nonsense interpretation. This is the little panels in the form of laminated pages, in the caches of the UK’s first interpretive geo-caching trail around the Iron Age hillforts of the South Shropshire Hills.
I expounded on the excellence of incorporating heritage interpretation into a recreational family activity, encouraging exploration of the landscape and using interpretation to add value and depth to the experience. I pointed out how appropriate the lively, family friendly cartoon-style graphics of the attack and defence of the hillfort were.
And someone, who had clearly been listening closely, said “So why is it okay to use cartoons here for people fighting and dying in the Iron Age when you said it wasn’t for the 15th century?”
Wasn’t that an excellent question?
(My answer? to follow, next week)