Last week I ran a sound arts workshop culminating in a sound piece with a group of 20 secondary school children from a local school in Saxmundham as part of the Art Station’s Telephone Exchange exhibition.
The Art Station is partnering with Saxmundham Museum and BT Adastral Park to celebrate the historical significance of the 1950s former BT telephone exchange and post office building that serves as their current home. The project will open the original exchange rooms and equipment to the public for the first time alongside contextual archival materials and artefacts. Digital artist Henry Driver will also be displaying his work Secrets of Soil within the space, providing a unique creative response to the developing technology of communication. Creative Technologist Emily Godden will be exhibiting 1858 Dunwich-Zandvoort cable ft. GPT-2, a piece exploring our relationship with the archive in the age of deep fakes and neural networks. Oral historian Belinda Moore is interviewing former employees and capturing their stories. Sound artist Loula Yorke will be running hands-on workshops with local students to engage with analogue and digital technologies associated with the equipment used at the exchange.
This collaborative project invites the community to observe and engage with its rich history as a hub of connectivity for the East Suffolk coast. The building at 48 High Street Saxmundham is an iconic example of 1950s industrial architecture – designed by Thomas Winterburn, one of the ten post office architects associated with the Festival of Britain movement, it functioned as a busy working post office and telephone exchange until the 1970s.
Saxmundham Telephone Exchange will be opening to coincide with Heritage Open Days 2021, with weekend openings on 12-4pm Saturday 18 September and 12-4pm Saturday 25 September at 48 High Street, Saxmundham IP17 1AB.
This exhibition has been made possible thanks to funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.