By Kira Taylor @kirataylor15
When Jane glances up at the clock to see the hands moving backwards, she is rather surprised. What happens after that is even weirder (and even better).
Writing With Our Hands is a film made by the Exeter Royal Academy for Deaf Education in partnership with the RAMM, Stories Connect and Deafinite Interpreters. Students from the Academy visited the museum, picked their favourite objects before writing stories and poems.
The stories were taken by Stories Connect and each of the individual stories was woven together into a time-travelling adventure through the museum, complete with air raids, starfish, dancing and romance.
The film is brilliant – fun and light-hearted. It follows Jane’s attempt to find her keys and get out of the dark, locked up museum. Not only is it well-written, but it brings the RAMM to life. No longer is it silent exhibitions of the past. The exhibitions each have their own story, their own voice.
It takes a minute or two to get used to the method of filming. For most of the film, there is absolutely no sound – complete silence – with a BSL signer and English subtitles. At first, the silence is slightly off-putting and the combination of subtitles and pictures is confusing. But once you grow used to it, it becomes exceptionally relaxing.
Once you stop striving to force it into a form you already know and accept it as a new form, it really comes into its own.
Watching it is like a combination of reading a book and watching a film – the signer brings the words to life not just with her hands, but with her facial expressions – happy, sad, confused.
The impenetrable silence slowly fades away until you hear the voices of the characters, despite absolutely no sound through the speakers. Although I can’t read BSL, the expressions of the interpreter are so bold and the signing so broad that you almost don’t need the subtitles.
Alongside this, it’s a brilliant, fun story line, amazingly interwoven and inventive. When I heard it consisted of air raid wardens, air raid shelters, starfish, pink nail varnish and a dress, I saw no way they could come together, but it works amazingly.
The film sums up what exetreme imagination is all about, finding new ways and revitalising old ways to tell a story. This isn’t something compensating or making the best of a bad situation. It’s a brilliant way of telling a story. It works in its own form.
The film is on show at the RAMM in the indoor courtyard or can be found on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UHxAfpmm_Ow
Other small exhibitions include The Devon Collection of Library Books on the first floor of Exeter Library.