My Games: The View From The South West

People involved in this project

Principal investigator:

School(s) Humanities
Department(s) Historical Studies (History of Art)
Dates 01 June 2012 -
Funder(s) N/A
Contact person Dr Mike O'Mahony

More about this project

The Games return to London

This July, London will become the first city to have hosted the Olympics on three separate occasions, having previously staged the Games in 1908 and 1948. Further, the staging of the Paralympics in London recalls the origins of this movement at the Stoke Mandeville Games held in Britain to coincide with the 1948 London Olympics. The visual record of these earlier Games largely consists of officially produced images - posters, film footage and photographs - typically representing the best known athletes in competition. There is less evidence recording the many ways in which the wider public chose to engage with the Games. Did the Games inspire children, or adults for that matter, to indulge in sport in the park or on the streets? Or did people gather at friends’ houses to listen to the event on the radio or, for those few who had the latest 1940s technology, to watch the events on television? How did the economic conditions of these earlier periods impact upon the mass reception of the Games? And how did those who wished either to ignore, or even protest against, the Games express these views? In general, what was the wider public response to the Games and what visual evidence remains to inform us of these activities?

A new record for a new era

Unlike previous Games held in Britain, the Olympics of 2012 will provide an ideal opportunity to generate a wider visual archive recording how the Games are experienced not just by those performing, but also by those watching. What will be the visual legacy of the Games of 2012 and what might this tell future generations about the nation and its attitudes towards the Olympic Games?

A regional approach

Focusing initially on the South West region, the ‘My Games’ project invites anyone to submit images that express their personal interaction with, or response to, the Games. Whether documenting a journey to watch a live event or experiencing the Games on the radio whilst mowing the lawn; holding a street party or being inspired to play games on a local level; or perhaps even ignoring the Games altogether or protesting against them. We are looking to preserve and present the most imaginative, quirky, diverse and entertaining visual responses (in any medium) to London 2012. The objective is to establish an alternative archive to the more formal record that is being officially collected, a visual equivalent to oral history.