These are verbatim transcripts of interviews, reflecting spoken rather than written language.


INTERVIEWER 1: So it’s the 27th of January, 2022, and this is a story interview for Out and About: Queering the Museum at RAMM and my name is Natalie McGrath and I am interview Katie Meldrew. Hello, Katie.  



INTERVIEWER 1: Welcome. So we’re asking everyone to choose an object that they can connect to, so can you tell us which object you’ve chosen and can you describe it to us? 

PARTICIPANT 1: Yeah, so I’ve chosen a bronze age arrow flint from Fernworthy, which is on Dartmoor. It is triangular, you can kind of see all the notches on it from where it’s been carved and there’s two little indents at the bottom where I’m assuming that might have fitted into an arrowhead or something like that.  


INTERVIEWER 1: Brilliant, thank you. Why this object? And what was it that drew you to it?  

PARTICIPANT 1: So my first choice was a costume because I’m interested in costume history but then I saw this one and I know the area of Fernworthy well and Fernworthy Reservoir, which is where the archaeological dig that found this arrowhead was done and I actually went to Fernworthy for solstice because I am a pagan and so the kind of Celtic pagan ceremonies and dates are really important to me to celebrate. 


INTERVIEWER 1: That’s wonderful and do you go to Fernworthy for summer solstice as well or do you go-? 

PARTICIPANT 1: I haven’t been for summer solstice. I’ve been for winter solstice a couple of times. It’s quite a boggy area so you have to be a bit careful about where you go but it’s got a really nice sort of energy and stillness. I love just Dartmoor in general but I am disabled and so much of it is inaccessible to me so this is the only standing stone circle that I can actually go to myself. 


INTERVIEWER 1: That’s a lovely story about the standing circle and also about the fact that you’re really drawn to Dartmoor and that the object is from Dartmoor. You’ve chosen something in the collections that is within the locality and within our imagination and our perception for the wider kind of public to get hold of these objects and I wondered if you could say something about the fact that it’s an arrowhead and what the kind of and it’s Bronze Age and what that might mean to you and your interests? 

PARTICIPANT 1: So I think it’s still fascinating. At Fernworthy Reservoir you can’t see it very often, but when the water table is low you can still see the outlines of the structures of the people who lived there from the Iron Age. I started, I’m a little bit of a history obsessive, so I looked at this arrowhead and then I looked into a bit of the archaeology and the sort of archaeological digs around this area and was like why is something that is Iron Age, Bronze Age, been allowed to be underwater, why was it all removed? And it made me think a lot about sort of how the modern world interacts with the ancient world, so for example the standing stones on Dartmoor, originally it was just moorland and then there was reforestation in the 1930s I think it was or 1940s, and it’s actually disturbed some of the structures that are there and I find it very odd when that sort of thing happens and it was very much like the modern world, they wanted to reforest so they didn’t have to be dependent on other countries for wood, but in doing that it’s like they wiped clean the slate of the past and the same with the reservoir, the digs were done because they wanted to use that area to be a reservoir for Torquay because there were so many more people and it just makes me really sad, things like that, because our history is so precious and when modern desires and needs override that, it just is very short-termism rather than thinking about this stuff was 3,000 years old, what right do we have to come along and just take it away and not look after it?  


INTERVIEWER 1: I guess in a way it’s been preserved in a museum and I wondered the echoes of what you’re describing in terms of things that being wiped clean, that history kind of things get erased, and I just wondered if you ever imagine, when you think about that the history kind of buff in you thinks about the past and the Iron Age and the Bronze Age, that time, and LGBTQIA lives, obviously there wouldn’t have been the language that we have now but do you ever imagine and wonder about that time? 

PARTICIPANT 1: I mean I think about history a lot and how LGBT people have always been there, but they’ve never had voices so that’s kind of one of the reasons that I was excited about this, being able to be part of this installation, is because like having queer voices is really important because we are invisible in the past in lots of ways, but I like tactile things like when you can see an object from the past, it’s so much more immediate than learning about it in a book and I think that’s one of the really important things about collections like you have at the RAMM is that immediacy, but I think it’s also important to me because it’s an area where, especially around the standing stones, which is a sort of pagan area and I identify as pagan and I think that a lot of queer people that I know it’s sort of been their way to find spirituality when a lot of other religions might be homophobic or transphobic or things like that. For me it’s kind of like my spirituality which is, doesn’t have to be filtered through a potentially transphobic or homophobic organised religion. 


INTERVIEWER 1: That’s really interesting and that notion of the spiritual and spirituality and the fact that we’re talking about this, you’re so eloquent in talking about it in terms of finding meaning through a different spirituality that isn’t organised religion, if you like, to use one kind of phrase, but that that object in the RAMM collections has led you to thinking and talking about that and that other people will hear this story, that’s really interesting. So do you think another LGBTQ+ person would connect with this object? What do you think about that? Would they find other resonances or-? 

PARTICIPANT 1: I mean I am a history nerd. Not all queer people are. But I think sort of from the pagan aspect and the pagan people that I celebrate the different things for, like the past is important for them and I know for a lot of people Dartmoor is an important spiritual place so I think it would be interesting probably from that point of view, yeah. 


INTERVIEWER 1: Yeah, I really like the idea of that, because there is something about the moor, isn’t there? That just is unlike anywhere else that I’ve visited. Could you say something about having your voice represented in the museum? You’ve started to touch upon it but what’s the importance for you with that? 

PARTICIPANT 1: I think going to museums as a child, they’re very, whether you’re queer or not they can be very othering. And I think as a queer person and someone who is non-binary even more so, it’s sort of like not only have queer people been removed from history but they’ve been removed from the present if they don’t have their voices as part of projects like this. 


INTERVIEWER 1: Yeah. Absolutely. So there’s something about this collection of stories then that as someone who is involved in running the project that it’s important for those voices to be, that it’s important to have your voice there. Could you talk more, because you’ve talked on it as well, the importance of the project in a wider context for a broader range of people? What do you think the echoes of the effects of the project could be? 

PARTICIPANT 1: I mean I think it will be interesting for queer people but I also hope it will be really interesting for non-queer people and you are talking about like where it’s going to be in the museum, it’s going to be in a prominent area that people are going to go past, rather than stuck in a corner somewhere, I think that’s really, really good, because people are going to be able to interact with it in a way that’s very immediate. I think a lot of cis het people don’t think about queerness on a day-to-day basis, it’s not part of their life, so I think going and looking at it through the past and kind of through this installation could be really important for making them think about queerness in general. 


INTERVIEWER 1: And I think, could you talk a bit more about the importance, you know, there’s such a rich value in what you’ve just touched upon there, about having our stories heard; could you talk about that a wee bit more? 

PARTICIPANT 1: Sort of like just queer voices in general? 



PARTICIPANT 1: I think it’s important particularly in traditional places that museums which have not had a good history of queer representation. It is a way that you can have queer representation along with other things about queer people in history and things like that, but it’s making modern queer people have a place in the museum and I think that for me is really, really exciting to kind of feel involved and that will be part of this installation and that it’s going to have a permanent place at the RAMM as well, so it’s going to be leaving a permanent mark upon the RAMM and the people who come and see it. 


INTERVIEWER 1: Thank you. Now is there anything else that you would like to say about the object or about the project or anything that you started to talk about that you’d like to elaborate on or anything that you haven’t said that you think I wish I’d say that? 

PARTICIPANT 1: Let me just double check my notes. I guess it just makes me happy. I know that’s a bit of a basic thing to say but it does make me happy, things like this. Yeah. I’m really glad that you asked me. 


INTERVIEWER 1: You’re very welcome and I’ve really enjoyed listening to you and hearing particularly, I hadn’t thought about that around spirituality in that way, I’m tearing through my life and it makes so much sense what you said about having places where that sense of spirituality can be important to queer people and I think that could be really wonderful for people to hear so thank you so much. 

PARTICIPANT 1: That’s okay. 

[00:13:38] End of transcript