Pioneering project to take archives “out of the box”

A bold new arts project will be coming to East London this spring, working innovatively with disabled people to take archives “out of the box.”

When you think of archives, the traditional image you may conjure up is of hundreds of documents from a forgotten era which are locked away in hidden vaults.

But Tower Hamlets Council’s Local History Library & Archives, the place for everyone to find out about the borough’s world famous heritage, is pioneering new approaches to provide access to its rare collections for different communities, in partnership with filmpro ltd, a disabled-led digital arts agency.

Thanks to a grant from the Arts Council England, the Out of the Box project will give disabled residents the chance to be creatively inspired by the council’s extensive archival collections, which reflect centuries of East End history.

Through a series of free workshops, led by digital and video artist Caglar Kimyoncu, participants will go on a journey to explore selected archival materials using a combination of audio, spatial and visual approaches to the collections.

Participants will then develop their own creative responses, culminating in a series of new collaborative artworks.

Caglar Kimyoncu said: “The world of archives is mystifying, yet a thrilling challenge; I feel there is more hidden, an elephant in the room waiting to be noticed, to speak out loud. This project will be a stimulating collaborative adventure to take that elephant out of the box!”

Foteini Galanopoulou, projects development manager at filmpro ltd added: “We are excited to be working on Out of the Box, a ground-breaking project that will offer fresh interpretations to archival materials, showcase new artwork and present different ways of engaging with local history.”

Disabled residents interested in taking part are invited to meet the team and find out more at drop in sessions.

  • Friday 23 May, from 10am-1pm, at  Idea Store Canary Wharf, Churchill Place, E14 5RB
  • Thursday 29 May, from 5pm-8pm, at Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives, 277 Bancroft Road, E1 4DQ
  • Saturday 31 May, from 11am-4pm, at Idea Store Whitechapel, Whitechapel Road, E1 1BU

The Out of the Box exhibition will be showcased in November during Disability History Month at the history library. Out of the Box will continue its journey in 2015, touring across the borough’s Idea Stores.

The project is supported by The National Archives and will engage with disabled groups Tower Project, Local Voices and Real Tower Hamlets.

To find out more contact 020 7613 5856 / 079 4451 3590 (voice/texts) or email

April 16, 2014