On Sunday May 10th Trails and Tales had the greatest pleasure of being part of the Torrance Girl Guides celebrations of their 90th anniversary at the Caldwell halls in Torrance. Although the 90th birthday was actually 2014, the celebrations began last year with the sharing and digitisation of the Guides amazing log books, which offer a written and visual account of the development of the Guides under the careful and caring eye of their founder ‘Captain’ Miss Sheena Pirie. Last year local historian Alison Graham introduced myself and Esmee to Miss Pirie’s log books and the landscape of Torrance by way of a warm summer night’s walk, taking in some of the trails Miss Pirie would have walked. Margaret Hyde Assistant leader of 2nd Torrance Guides, with Alison, then shared all 12 volumes of the books with us – each one had been carefully kept in the village and each page offers insight to a world that seems long gone, yet beautifully and richly documented through writing, photographs and drawings. These are genuinely little works of art and convey a fantastic sense of community amongst all the generations who are part of them.
In the build up to the event, in April of this year, Rachel and Esmee walked one of the longer trails with Margaret and Alison and from this, we planned a project that would allow the current Torrance Guides to learn a little about the past through the log books and to re-visit some of the activities their counterparts would have experienced. Following the spirit of Miss Pirie, each of the guides had their own log book to document their journey; photographs were taken on the walks and on return these were used as a catalyst to make new artworks. Over 2 more evening sessions, Rachel worked with the group to develop a response to the material and the experience. The resulting works showed a beautiful storyboarding of experiences – some collaged and highly individual, social media-like and others traced, drawn and printed – different ways of working but all relaying a sense of the individual and the community of the group. The work was exhibited on the walls of the Caldwell Halls as part of the Torrance Girl Guides celebrations.