Presentation and Screening | Doc Rowe (Doc Rowe Archive and Collection)

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Presentation and Screening | Doc Rowe (Doc Rowe Archive and Collection)

Unit 3b - Studio 28
28 Lawrence Road
United Kingdom
April 6th, 2013 12:00 PM - 2:00 PM

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+44 (0)20 8800 3024
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folk art, folk tradition; documentary


The Romance, the Reality and the Responsibility: Recording the Tradition 
Presentation and Screening | Doc Rowe (Doc Rowe Archive and Collection)
SATURDAY 06 April 2013 | noon-2pm | SoundFjord | Free | RSVP essential info[at]soundfjord[dot]org[dot]uk

For nearly 50 years Doc Rowe has been documenting seasonal events, traditional music, song and dance in the British isles and Ireland. He has not only amassed a huge and detailed archive collection of audio-visual and photographic material but holds a passionate belief in the relevance and importance of tradition.

In this anecdotal presentation, accompanied by material from his archive - Doc reflects on his collection, his initial inspirations and reasons (albeit unselfconscious at the time) for collecting. Looking at the rapid development and contemporary genius of electronic technology, editing and digital dissemination - all that would have been so useful some thirty years ago - Doc will discuss his current activities and the future of this archive.

Rowe contradicts many past attitudes and traditional views of folklorist, historians and journalists. He is reluctant to call these events by the usual term “calendar custom” as it is is almost a vestige of earlier studies simply presenting an ossified vision of an England that’s always in the past …and always celebrating that past! The relationship to the past is equivocal and, as many of the festivals date from fairly recent times, makes academic theorising about 'quasi-neolithic-fertility-rites' oblique and irrelevant. Although there appears to be increased interest in `national heritage' and tradition, all too often this material is trivialised, treated as quaint, bizarre and outmoded; it is appropriated and supplanted by a synthetic, nostalgia product perhaps more readily fitting the requirements of the heritage industry. 

Doc Rowe's regular attendance -serial collecting- at innumerable events has led to actuality being recorded that would be otherwise unseen. The more private and intimate encounters are frequently counterbalanced by the more extravert, risky and dangerous activities such as running with blazing tar barrels, dropping with cheese rollers etc. 

As it is approaching fifty years since Rowe met the likes of Charles Parker (BBC Radio Ballads) and went to Padstow Mayday in Cornwall for the first time it seems appropriate and timely to present an overview of his collecting, methods and aims.

Click here for an in-depth biography of Doc Rowe's extraordinary career!