The history of the Black Country gets computerised for new exhibition

The history of the Black Country gets computerised for new exhibition

The history of the Black Country is being retold in 21st century style as part of a computer game specially commissioned for an exhibition at The Public.

It has been done by apprentices on the LearnPlay Foundation scheme based at the arts building in West Bromwich, and is based on the platform Little Big Planet.

The students have put together storylines including titbits of history, local landmarks, legends and even ghost stories which are revealed as the character progresses through the levels.

Jack Cook, assistant head of department at LearnPlay, said: “There are about 10 levels. We have got stuff on Wolverhampton, Sandwell, Dudley and Walsall.

“Some are historical, some are horror stories.

“In Dudley we have the Wren’s Nest where you have to go down and explore. We have done a massive storyline about the castle and the Grey Lady that haunts it – that just looks fantastic.

“We have done a story about the Walsall anarchists where you have got to catch them. You see them going to court and they tell you how they got sentenced as well. There is also one about the severed hand that was discovered in a pub (the so called Hand of Glory found at The White Hart Inn at Caldmore).

“You can go at your own speed reading all the information and facts that pop up. I have learnt so much about the area doing this.”

It is operated with a joystick and four buttons so even non-gamers will swiftly come to grips with how to play it.

Graham Peet, exhibitions manager at The Public, said: “The apprentices have been working on this for about four months. From an information point of view there is a huge amount in it that they have discovered from their research.

“We are going to be putting up some of the storyboards they have made so you can see the complexity of the ideas and the research they have done.’’

Also included as part of Black Country Legends is a display of Dudley-born photographer Richard Billingham’s acclaimed series “Ray’s A Laugh”.

The Turner Prize-nominee took the pictures of his alcoholic father Ray and obese mother Liz at their home in Cradley Heath in the ‘90s. Shot in brash colour on cheap film, the results are a brutally candid study of an impoverished, dysfunctional family, yet desperation is touched with affection.

A Most Peculiar Place is Brendan Jackson’s contribution. The installation is an unusual map that highlights some of the unusual characters and characteristics of the region – from the anti-Catholic public speaker who prompted a reading of The Riot Act, to the concept of Wednesbury Unreasonableness and the origins of the Dudley Locust.

* Black Country Legends continues at The Public until May 6. For details look up The Public

The video trailer of the display can be viewed here

Via Birmingham Mail

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