Correspondence: The Woodford Files 1940-50

19th May 2018
Woodford Academy, Woodford
The Woodford Files

Correspondence: The Woodford Files 1940-50 is a research based art project initiated by Vivienne Dadour in 2015 to examine, document and exhibit a collection of hand written correspondence written between 1940-50 by members of the McManamey family and friends.

The letters selected for The Woodford Files, Making History 1940-50 exhibition have been sourced mainly from the Woodford Academy Archives, Blue Mountains, NSW and written by members of the McManamey family and their friends. The McManamey family lived at the Woodford Academy from 1907-1988 where they operated a boarding school for boys, a day school and during WW2 accommodation for friends and Sydney war evacuees.

Correspondence featured in the exhibition makes reference to the unsettling and challenging events in the world during WW2. Letters often contained inquires into the welfare of people living at the Academy, inquires about war efforts, the welfare of loved ones abroad, memories, the latest war wounded, general living and working conditions.

The letters come in different forms- on note paper, postcards, scrap paper, fragments, some with illustrations, some overwritten, some lengthy narrations, others relatively simple. Correspondence served to record and share insights into the texture of their daily lives and thoughts-creating a sense of place and belonging.

The exhibition component of this project will be developed over the duration of the show and will be designed to engage the audience on multilevels through two text based site-specific installations of varying forms within the Woodford Academy, Woodford NSW, in 2018. The primary components will be printed letters from the collection, contextually related material from the Woodford Archives, a short documentary film and photo/digital artworks referencing aspects of the site and collection by artist Vivienne Dadour.

Correspondence: The Woodford Files 1940-50 project is a further development of Dadour’s art practice and aligns with the political sub-texts often found in her other projects where she incorporates photographic references and archival material to reveal issues that are today understood as important, but which may be obliterated, ignored, hidden or obscured by the passage of time. The artist sees herself as an historic agent of memory by using archival material as the basis of her art practice and by giving The Woodford Academy collection aesthetic value and historical significance ensures that such resources are revalued.

Significantly, The Woodford Academy is the oldest building in the Blue Mountains and by featuring archives in an exhibition in the location in which they were created, circulated and archived, will reveal past histories that link time past to this present place.