The Rising Tide – Cambridge University Library

It doesn’t matter how big or small a project you work on the difference between it being a pleasure or a total pain in the ass is if the people you work for are competent and kind.  You can survive the odd tyrant who’s competent.  And the odd incompetent who is kind. But you really are stuck up a cruise in quarantine if they are incompetent and unkind.

Fortunately Cambridge University Library goes in the competent and kind category. They asked duckrabbit to work on some films about an exhibition they had planned. The Rising Tide closed it’s doors today due to the virus we shall not name. But only closed them after a staggering 53,507 visitors came to learn about the incredible challenges and achievements of the women who have graced the University’s doors since they first broke in.

One of those women is Dr Lucy Delap who co-curated the exhibition with Dr Ben Griffin.

I was asked to make some films with them to bring the exhibition to a wider audience. The man who persuaded me to do this (for less money than makes sense, or so my MD told me) is the library’s Head of Comms Stuart Roberts.  I never met him so I can’t for sure say he really exists but his twitter bio reads ‘Yorkshireman. Writing a novel about a 19th century lunatic asylum’. So yeah, more like him please. He’s also very competent, very kind and very encouraging.

All Stu asked of me was to make a really short film for the internet. Max 90 seconds. And to include Ben and Lucy. So we made a six minute film about how Cambridge was the first Uni to let women study and then the last to let them graduate. I say we. I gave Ben and Lucy my plan and they said it was crap. I felt like I was back in class. I gave them another plan and they failed that one too. Maybe this was why Stu was being so nice when persuading me to do the films? Fuck it, I thought, let’s just point the camera at these very high achieving people and see what happens. What could go wrong?

In the end, nothing. Because Lucy and Ben were brilliant to work with. Kind, competent, patient, enthusiastic, wonderful storytellers. And what a great story they had to tell.

The women who came before us, represented in The Rising Tide, are part of our inheritance. They stood up, found their voices, challenged, fought, bent the rules, broke the rules, made new rules. Founded whole new colleges in their determination to make this University one where they – where we – could belong and succeed.” Dr Jessica Gardner, Cambridge University Librarian

(Shot by the ever excellent Adrian Storey working at speed with me (four films, three days, just the two of us). I would also like to thank the Cambridge Uni Librarian Dr Jessica Gardner. It makes a real difference when someone so senior takes the trouble to publicly express gratitude for our work and also Zoe Smith who babysat us whilst we were set loose at Senate House, as well as Dr Dorothy Thompson, Jo Cobb, Head Gardener of Murray Edwards College, Siobhan Cassidy, Chair of Cambridge University Women’s Boat Club and Gemma-Claire Ali of Newnham Boat Club and of course Jonny Bark, who did do much of the editing.)

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