President's Report 2007

The Battery: People of the Changing Outport

Gilbert Dalton

Students Maureen Power and Rita Colavincenzo talk in front of a 3-D computer display of the Making Waves exhibit.

In the fall of 2006, eight graduates of Public Sector Folklore course explored a St. John's community in transition - a project that transformed the students themselves into museum curators. The students gathered personal stories, images and artifacts from residents of the Battery, and considered what is being lost and gained as this St. John's neighbourhood changes.

Folklorist Dr. Jerry Pocius taught the course along with Mark Ferguson, curator of history at The Rooms Provincial Museum. Dr. Pocius says the Battery was chosen for its proximity to Memorial, but also because it serves as a microcosm for what's happening around the province: "The changes in the Battery are very similar, in my mind, to what's happening in all of rural Newfoundland in the early 21st century."

The students' work became the basis for an exhibit at The Rooms. The Battery: People of the Changing Outport ran opened on May 17 and ran until Sept. 3. Guest curated by Maureen Power, a student in Memorial's Folklore 6740 Public Sector graduate class, the exhibit was the culmination of months of fieldwork, documentation and development. It brought together hours of audio and video footage; hundreds of recent and historical photographs; and contemporary works of art and sculpture.

The exhibit demonstrated through personal stories and images, the dramatic social, cultural and economic transformations taking place in many outports in the province - the shift from thriving fishing community to urban neighbourhood.