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In parellel with our Swing Night and Salvage projects, film artist Helen Marshall led a project which explored ideas of propaganda in relation to war. Helen began the film project by screening A Diary for Timothy (Humphrey Jennings classic, controversial black and white film from the 1940s) at the Peel centre, the Claremont Project, Sotheby Day Centre and Duncombe Primary School. The film provided a stimulus from which the older people and the children could talk about their experiences of war.

In subsequent visits to the day centres, Helen recorded the older people talking - the stories and images from these recordings then provided the stimulus for children from Duncombe to draw pictures which Helen then animated.

The final film, Doodlebug, named after Hitler's secret weapon but juxtaposed with the Jitterbug dance, is a playful yet sombre take on different perceptions of the second world war and focuses on the elderly participants memories of propaganda exercises.

As A Diary for Timothy skilfully demonstrates, propaganda is the art of telling lies or twisting the truth. Where else but within the media of film is this best accomplished? Indeed, at times during Doodlebug there is evidence of foulplay and minipulation with the short and sharp editing and juxtaposition of speech. To what extent is the artist using the medium to tell lies or make persuasive truth, especially if they have never experienced a world war?



You May not be an Angel



Supported by

The Cripplegate Foundation and Homefront Recall (Big Lottery Fund)

Artist Helen Marshall was commissioned to make this film with members of the Claremont Day Centre.

Over a period of six weeks Helen joined forces with seven members of The Claremont Centre who were interested in making a film about their experiences of the centre. This soon developed into a more daring intervention where participants invited Helen to follow them to their homes and conduct the interviews there in private. One man, Peter revealed that this was the first time anyone had stepped inside his home; " I never bring anyone here, I never do....I'm too untidy ". The film is framed from beginning to end by the mile long journey made by Sid to the supermarket once a week; traversing the cumbersome streets of East London. Here, the reality of being elderly and vulnerable in the city is laid bare. Either melancholic and joyful each compelling story is bound together by an undeniable sense of joie de vivre.


Supported by

Arts Council England through its Regional Arts Lottery Programme; London Borough of Islington’s Arts and Creative Development Department; Friends of the Elderly and the Neighbourhood Renewal Unit through its Community Chest Fund.