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oral history

8 interviews complete …

Jesse and Nikki are continuing our oral history interviewing blitz. It is absorbing and rewarding work. At this stage, we think we will end up doing more than the original planned 12 interviews (maybe 16?), because there are so many diverse, fascinating stories out there.

Oral history is an inherently slow process: the interviews are long-form, whole-of-life style, and then the processing of the audio at the National Library of Australia also takes a while. After that, the interviews are sent back to us, and Enya Moore (the project’s Research Assistant) writes a “timed summary”, and the interview is also professionally transcribed. Finally, once we have the summary, transcript and the audio MP3s, the “analysis” can really start.

Typically, Jesse listens to the interviews in-full again, at least once, often twice… as well as thoroughly scrutinising the summaries and transcripts.

Once the material has really “soaked in” it is possible to pull out some strong connecting themes and start drawing conclusions. Right now we don’t use software like NVivo or Dedoose, but that is certainly a possibility if the number of interviews were to increase from 12. 12 is manageable “in your head” – the stories linger, and it is possible to know them well. Beyond that, software helps to keep things sorted.

So far we have interviewed:

2 industrial modelmakers (1 employee, 1 business-owner)

A furniture manufacturer & designer, with a background in fabric screen-printing and stone-masonry

A fashion designer & creative director determined to keep things local and made-to-order

An artist and arts-technician with a background in boat-building, photography and engineering draughting for petrol-pump manufacturing

A textiles-patternmaker, patternmaking educator and fashion designer

An engineering patternmaker with a specialisation in making patterns for railway and heritage castings

A textiles craftsperson and artist with experience working in an industrial textile mill

Still to come – we have an interview with a design educator who worked on reforming NSW design education in the 1980s, a blacksmith and TAFE educator, a mould-making specialist who works across manufacturing and the art world, and more…

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