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Bridport’s PVA to create art for deaf people at Roman Town House in Dorchester

DORCHESTER’S Roman Town House will be lit up by a moving image projection that tells its unique story for hearing-impaired people.

Dorset County Council is working with Bridport-based arts company PVA MediaLab to appoint an artist-in-residence for the project, called ‘Domus’, using an award of £5,000 from the Big Lottery Fund.

The artist will work with local deaf and hearing-impaired people at workshops in March to develop a looped projection piece to be shown at the Town House. The work will explore the site’s history and environment through the use of digital media and light.

Julie Penfold, director of PVA MediaLab, said: “We are very pleased to be working with colleagues at Dorchester’s Roman Town House to deliver this exciting project. We hope to highlight the special qualities of the site, enhancing its qualities and encouraging pride in local heritage.”

If you are interested in taking part in the workshops on 23-25 March in Dorchester, please book through the Roman Town House officer Sarah Harbige on 01305 228241 or s.e.harbige@dorsetcc.gov.uk

The above is all from a press release issued by Dorset County Council. You can tell that from the perfectly on-message words “said” by Julie Penfold of PVA.

They’re worth noting because, in the current climate of impending cutbacks, ‘Domus’ is exactly the kind of project that many people will think is a waste of money. Do deaf people really need to experience “a moving image projection” on the Roman Town House? They’re hard of hearing. It’s not like they can’t see it. What’s wrong with reading about it, or walking around and imagining?

But PVA are going to do a job, and who can blame them for wanting to do it? What’s more interesting is the role of Dorset County Council. I would suggest that Domus should be seen in the context of years and years of expenditure and experimentation by Dorset County Council on the Roman Town House. It is a remarkable and important archaeological monument, but it’s in an odd place, tucked away round the back of County Hall, and not all that many people go it, and no one is really quite sure what its purpose should be, or how should it be promoted. Hundreds of thousands of pounds have been spent on it, and yet no one ever seems to have produced a coherent plan for promoting the Roman heritage of Dorchester and including the Town House as part of that. I know people have tried, but does anyone think they have succeeded?

You can see the official Roman Town House website by clicking on this link. At the time of writing this, it’s got Tony Robinson on the home page, which is ok, and also a horrible spelling mistake, which is not…