Invisible Folk

Invisible Folk is an important part of the Invisible Folk Club family. It is a company limited by guarantee (not-for-profit). It has been created to collaborate with other organisations in Heritage, Arts and Education to place folk music in a social and historical setting and bring it to a wider public.

Lydia Saul, Keeper of Social History at the Higgins Bedford Museum, has been a good friend to Invisible Folk and gave us our first break. When we first met she told us about their forthcoming Journey from Bunyan to the Brickworks exhibition. Out of those discussions came our first film combining music and social history.


We are delighted to announce that in August 2020 we were awarded our third Arts Council grant. The project is to research and write a play based around the social history of lacemaking. Lacemaking was a prominent cottage industry in Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire & Northamptonshire particularly in the areas where the boundaries of the three counties converge. Singing was important part of the working day for the women who provided the labour so our play will include tells (rhythmic work songs) and stories set to new music. Once again we’ll be working with The Higgins (Bedford) and for the first time the Cowper & Newton Museum (Olney). Watch this space!

The Brickworks Film

The Journey from Bunyan to the Brickworks exhibition would include a film where schoolchildren interviewed former brickwork employees. When we saw that film we noticed that the workers were multi-cultural, were smiling and obviously friends in a way you do not see in every town or city. We suggested there could be a complementary film exploring the impact of the Brickworks on cultural relations in the area. The film would be built around the knowledge and experience of David Szymanski former Managing Director of Hanson Building Products and a man steeped in the history of the Stewartby Brickworks. Our idea was given the green light and planning began.

Filming took place at Moot Hall, Elstow (Bedfordshire), an exceptionally well preserved Tudor building. It was a beautiful weekend. Jon Bickley interviewed David Szymanski in front of Ian Yarwood’s cameras. Folk groups Jack in a Barrel and Marisa,Jack&Davy sang songs written by Graeme Meek about the Brickworks. Melodeon player Barry Goodman, Graeme’s former musical partner, played some tunes.

As the son of a Polish immigrant David told his family history which echoed an experience common to many who settled in Bedford. He was able to describe the experience of working in the factory and also give us a unique point of view from various levels within the organisation.

Our film entitled The Bricks That Built a Community was part of the Journey from Bunyan to the Brickworks exhibition along with two John Bunyan Museum films where schoolchildren talked to former brickworkers.

Invisible Folk were delighted and proud to receive a grant from the Arts Council for the making of this film.

The Film about the weather

We made a film to complement the Under The Same Sky art exhibition that would have opened at the Higgins Bedford Museum at the beginning of April 2020. Paintings of landscape, nature and weather in Bedfordshire were going on show before COVID-19 closed all the galleries and museums. Filming had been finished the day before lockdown kicked-in, it was a close run thing! The film, entitled Into The Woods, and its specially composed soundtrack will run alongside the exhibition when the museum reopens. We’ll let you know when that happens.

All songs and music on the soundtrack composed by Jon Bickley

Jon Bickley – Vocal & Guitar
Diana Stone – Violin
Russell Eyre – Guitar
Alexandra Reynolds – Voice

Filmed by Hannah Lovell
Film Editing by Matt Fleming (Minus Tone)

Once again Invisible Folk were delighted and proud to receive a grant from the Arts Council for the making of this film.

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