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. This is the story of how we got started.


Part 1 The Film

Lydia Saul is the Keeper of Social History at the Higgins Bedford Museum. When we met she told us about their forthcoming Journey from Bunyan to the Brickworks exhibition.

The exhibition would feature a film where schoolchildren interviewed former brickworkers. When we saw the 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 that there might be a complementary film exploring this aspect of the Brickworks impact on the culture of 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. Lydia said she’d be interested to see that.

Invisible Folk set up a filming schedule at the Moot Hall, Elstow, an exceptionally well preserved Tudor building. 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 the top of the organisation.

Our film entitled The Bricks That Built a Community will be shown at the Journey from Bunyan to the Brickworks exhibition, looped with two John Bunyan Museum films where schoolchildren talk to former brickworkers.

Invisible Folk is delighted and proud to have received a grant from the Arts Council for the making of this film.


Part 2 The Open Day

The Higgins Bedford Museum are holding an open day on Saturday 25th May 2019 to promote the 6 month Journey from Bunyan to the Brickworks exhibition and asked Invisible Folk to help run it.

Jon Bickley will interview two former senior managers at the Brickworks in front of an audience which we hope will include many former workers. This short initial interview will be followed by a question and answer session. All of this will be filmed and provide the museum with first hand testimony for their archive.

Invisible Folk are also organising a festival of folk music in the beautiful courtyard at the entrance to the museum. Ten folk acts ranging from a solo unaccompanied singer to a seven piece folk ‘choir’, uilleann pipes, violins and guitars will all feature. The singers featured in the film Marisa, Jack & Davy and Jack in a Barrel will sing songs about the Brickworks and Pete Castle will sing some of the songs he collected in Bedfordshire.

For more details about the musicians and their music follow this link

On the day Invisible Folk will provide a small PA system and stage management making this a completely self-contained festival.

The Higgins have received a grant from the Hidden Histories funds from Share East to help pay for the filming, the musicians and the marketing.

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