Nature Matters: Celebrating World Day for Audio-Visual Heritage


Our project ‘Nature Matters’ is supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, and so what better way to thank National Lottery players than to open our doors and celebrate some of the fantastic work from the project so far? As an archive, we do not have a venue in the same way that museums or heritage sites do, but thanks to York St John University, we’ve been able offer visitors a full-day of activities at our offices and on campus.

The day took place on 27th October 2023, in order to coincide with and celebrate World Day for Audio-Visual Heritage.

Archive Open Day

Throughout the day, hourly tours of the archives were held, where booked visitors would have exclusive behind-the-scenes insight into the work we do as a film archive, in the context of our project.

The tours included meeting the team, a look around the vaults, learning about the history of different film formats (along with having a go at splicing some film), viewing analogue film on specialist equipment, and seeing how we provide access to films after digitisation. The tours concluded with a sneak peek at the new online exhibitions that volunteers have been working on for ‘Nature Matters’ (these will be released online publicly very soon)!

We had a very positive response from the day; one visitor said:

“Great to see behind the scenes and the historically important work being done.”

Another visitor added:

“A very good introduction to the work of the film archive, very good to get your hand on the films.”

The open day spotlighted our ‘Nature Matters’ project through the choices of film shown throughout the tours, including through digital edits, exhibitions, and in the examples of analogue content. We asked visitors if their trip made them think any differently about the environment, to which we had enthusiastic responses such as:

“Seeing older films about our environment allows you to compare how the environment has changed, even just over the recent years."


“It has allowed me to see the impact of the environment in Yorkshire. I judged this to be more impactful and make me think more about the environment since I live in York and I can see how York's environment can impact me in the future.”

People-Powered Cinema

For World Day of Audio-Visual Heritage, there’s no more of a perfect opportunity to show off a different kind of cinema - one that is powered by pedals! As part of Nature Matters we collaborated with Festival of Thrift earlier this year to experiment with cycling to power a generator, which would in turn power up a projector to screen some of our wonderful collection of nature-based content. We had this set up on campus throughout the day, so that anyone who passed by could have a go, as well as those who attended the Archive open day tours.

John Hawkridge: A Midsummer Night’s Walk

Throughout the year, research volunteers have been working hard to contextualise some of the environmentally themed films in our collection, including lots of research about places, dates and filmmakers.

One collection that caught the attention of some of our volunteers was that which was donated by John Hawkridge - a determined mountaineer with cerebral palsy who documented his trips by filming them. The films, along with research from the BBC, the British Library and John’s autobiographies, formed a unique piece of writing which the volunteers will be sharing online; they previewed this in the form of a thoroughly engaging free talk about John’s life, ambitions and expeditions, as part of our ‘Nature Matters’ celebrations on 27th October.

Nature Matters: Film Premiere

After a busy day of showcasing all of the work we’ve been doing behind-the-scenes, it was time to preview our brand-new short film,‘Nature Matters’, to an audience of over 150 in the Creative Centre auditorium at York St John University, followed by a Q&A with the producers.

You can find out more about the film premiere here!

Keep an eye out for future news about the online release of new short film ‘Nature Matters’!