The Hold is the new home of Suffolk Archives and is located conveniently on the doorstep of the University of Suffolk. It is a fantastic new facility for both the town and the University and today I am going to be telling you all about my experience visiting and their fantastic latest exhibit; Global Events: Suffolk Stories.
When I first stepped into The Hold I was genuinely blown away. The building is stunningly designed and has a wide range of facilities available including a café, a main lecture theatre and smaller seminar rooms for students and of course the main exhibition space. Walking through The Hold it felt like I had been transported to a larger city archival space which is so exciting to have in the centre of Ipswich. The exhibition space is located just behind the shop and is currently home to Global Events: Suffolk Stories which explores the way Suffolk responded as a community and was shaped by international events in history including the Covid-19 pandemic.
As well as the main exhibit The Hold also has different more permanent exhibits scattered around the building and I was a big fan of the trigger warnings included before each so that visitors were aware of the contents and anything that could potentially cause distress to them.
The exhibit itself journeys through the regions response and documentation of the Cold War, World War II and the Covid-19 Pandemic. It is full of wonderful localised artefacts and dotted around the exhibit are speakers with snippets and stories from Suffolk Archives; one of my personal favourites was a particularly moving audio clip of the Black American Serviceman Choir who used music as a way to boost morale when living so far from home. Whilst the story of these troops is only touched upon in the exhibit there is a lot of addition information and resources available online at the Suffolk Archives website so be sure to give it a visit to learn more. (https://www.suffolkarchives.co.uk/displays-online/)
Another standout aspect of the exhibition was the focus on Suffolk’s response to the lockdown back in April. It was wonderful to see the public’s interaction with the project and it was a brilliant way to showcase that moment in time, one that I am sure we will all remember for years to come.
The different displays within the exhibit explore all areas of community and another standout project was a collaboration with American Army children at RAF Lakenheath. Children from all ages were interviewed for the project and it is so interesting to see their responses about moving to Suffolk compared to their home towns. This project also encompasses another interactive aspect to the exhibit where you listen to the younger children’s responses by scanning a code that is linked to their drawings, a feature that was very popular amongst other visitors in the exhibit when I was looking around also.
While the exhibit eerily echoes the parallels between the past and present, visiting The Hold was a wonderful escape from the doom and gloom of reality and Suffolk Stories emphasises the sense of hope and unity that being in a community brings which ultimately carries us through dark and bleaker times. The exhibit is open until January 10th and costs just £4 to visit as a student.
A big thank you to Emily for not only showing me round this brilliant exhibit but for curating a space that showcases how community and togetherness continues to prevail despite the challenges that we encounter, it is a much needed reminder after this trying year.
Be sure to visit The Hold if you haven’t already and check out everything they have to offer. The Hold is open from 9.30 to 4pm daily. You can visit in person until 10th January 2021 (closed 24-28 Dec for Christmas) at The Hold. The cafe is not not currently open. https://www.suffolkarchives.co.uk/
Another exhibition, W=F*d, an exhibition of printmaking created by students earlier this year, can also be seen at The Hold in Ipswich, from 17th December. The exhibition explores the theme of Work in the 21st century and should have gone on display on the 26th of March in The Whistler Gallery in Ipswich, but the venue was forced to close because of the coronavirus. No appointment is necessary to view the exhibition which will be displayed until 6th January.