What an amazing weekend. 1,256 miles and 20 hours of driving with a visit to our twin town of Wiesbaden in the middle of it. But why did we go?
The RTW delegation at Wiesbaden's twin town sign, can you see Tunbridge Wells?
We visited Wiesbaden, firstly because we were itching to visit the town with the name that graces our town's welcome signs, and secondly we were invited to bring our Tunbridge Wells Project over there. Intriguing eh? Read on.
Our day started very early with breakfast together, as well as the core Project team we were joined by our wonderful translator, Christine, who had flown out to meet us, and Christiane who is the Secretary of the Wiesbaden Twinning Association, and also Catherine, a Tunbridge Wells Tourist Guide.
Inside the Wiesbaden Stadtarchiv. With, Left to Right, Christiane, Dr. Brigitte Streich, Christine, Bettina, Catherine, Sarah and Christoph.
First stop was the Stadtarchiv, the town's archive. We were here to meet Dr. Brigitte Streich, from the Cultural Office, who is in charge of this facility. She gave us a personal tour of the building, which any member of the public can visit, and showed us just a sample of the millions of documents from hundreds of years of Wiesbaden history. We were here because a few students (more on them later) had contacted them many times requesting information about abandoned buildings and buildings at risk of demolition. This sudden influx of requests got the Stadtarchiv into investigating our Project which then led to them to think about beginning of one of their own.
We are shown some of the Stadtarchiv's photography.
The Stadtarchiv realised how good an idea our Project was and how valuable it could prove in the future so began to commission photographers to document some of the at-risk buildings around them. It has already resulted in some valuable architectural artifacts being saved from destruction. We left agreeing that we would help collaborate with them on getting their own Project off the ground. Off to meeting number two.
Wiesbaden Council Offices.
A flying taxi ride across town to the Wiesbaden Council offices. We were here to meet the Director of the Wiesbaden Education and Cultural Affairs Department, Frau Rose-Lore Scholz. We were warned she had very little time and was a very busy lady and we had to pitch our Project's plans to her as quickly as possible. We needn't have worried, she was so lovely and gave us more than enough time to sit together and chat.
This is where we get to the nub of why we travelled to Wiesbaden. We explained to Frau Scholz that we wanted to help get the Wiesbaden Project off the ground by showing an exhibition of our Tunbridge Wells Project photographs in the city and to also organise a photoshoot with some local photographers, all of which would need a lot of help from the Wiesbaden Council and many other people besides. She was more than impressed and being someone who loves England, especially Prince Charles, she was more than happy to support us as much as possible. Brilliant! We left this meeting very pleased indeed, it was a major hurdle overcome to seeing the Project visit Wiesbaden in 2013.
Meeting with the Education and Culural Affairs Minister, Frau Rose-Lore Scholz.
Into another taxi and back into the centre of the city, to the town hall. But we weren't here for another meeting. Below the Wiesbaden Town Hall is a huge cellar in which is a rather fabulous restaurant and bar called the Ratskeller. How about that for an idea for our town hall, TWBC? We were treated to a slap-up traditional German meal courtesy of the Cultural Department and never before had we eaten so much meat in one delicious sitting, the beer flowed rather rapidly too. Delicious.
A very liquid lunch.
A taxi was waiting for us outside to take us to our next meeting. We slowly made our way out into the Wiesbaden suburbs in the very heavy snow to the home of Frank Deubel to meet with him and another photographer called Professor Dr. Axel Sawert.
Frank is the organiser of the Wiesbaden photography festival, Fototage, and Axel is a published photographer who loves architecture, and both really love Wiesbaden. They were intrigued by our Project and wanted to get involved in the creation of the Wiesbaden version. Our hosts were most welcoming with tea and stollen as we talked photography and the buildings they thought needed to be documented. Apparently some of their hot springs are at risk and they want to create a Project for these too. After explaining about our exhibition they thought it would make a great addition to the Fototage Festival. We are looking forward to visiting these two lovely gentlemen again in 2013.
Professor Dr. Axel Sawert and Frank Deubel with us in Frank's home.
The doorbell rang, our brief but informative meeting was over and it was time to leave to our final destination for the day, the Wiesbaden University.
A room of about 20 photography students awaited us. Our Project had grabbed the attention of their professor, Jörg Waldschütz, earlier in the year and he had shared it with his students. Amazingly they were so taken with it that they all wanted to produce Projects of their own and we were here as special guests to listen to presentations of their initial ideas. I cannot tell you how proud David and I felt sitting there listening to all these students excited by what we had done. We couldn't have imagined three years ago when the Project was born that it would prove such an inspiration to young people in another country. Truly amazing. I'll write another post soon about the student's ideas.
Some of the students presenting their own ideas for Projects.
And with that the mind-blowing day was over, it had gone by in a flash. It was a very long day, a very proud day, a very overwhelming day. We ended it stunned at how generous, polite, and kind the people of Wiesbaden are. Truly wonderful people in a wonderful city.
As well as the lovely people we met we would like to personally thank Professor Michael Holman from the Tunbridge Wells Twinning & Friendship Association
, Christoph Nielbock, Christiane Laubach, and Christine Phillips. Thank you.
More soon but please get in touch if you would like to help get our exhibition to Wiesbaden in 2013.