Mario Satchwell

I’m a 27 year old of  Jamaican and British heritage, and music is my biggest love so I’m first and foremost interested in sound, as a musician and as assistant to productions at Historyworks.  I have a mixed portfolio of work at Historyworks. First is leading and coaching choirs where I have many years of experience as a musician, both with adult and children, teaching singing and directing performances. Second,  supporting the Historyworks projects as digital officer making resources for our public art awards, heritage community engagement and schools projects. Third as trainee as a sound engineer for the Historyworks audio trails and radio programmes, film projects and choir recordings and sound installations, where my musical experience is now developing into story-telling and sound editing.


I joined Historyworks in 2014 first of all in the capacity as a singing teacher and musician, but since finishing University for a BA in Engineering, I’ve increased my project work with Historyworks over the past 3 years, as the media productions have blossomed with the winning of Public Art Awards so I’ve plenty of projects in Cambridge and beyond, where this year we are making a wonderful set of history trails to engage young people and their communities with the past and present where they live and work, encouraging them to use ‘history beneath their feet’ to inspire co-creating poetry, songs, raps, where I’ve been supporting their work teaching body percussion and singing, whilst also capturing the artworks for our public performances and installations. It has been very rewarding to have the opportunity to be trained in media production at Historyworks, where I’m expanding my experience as a gospel singer and musician to be recording and editing choirs and speech radio, joining the Historyworks team to make short films of poets, singers, academics, curators for a broad mix of shorts for our Historyworks  projects in schools, universities, heritage sites, museums, and galleries. I also do digital officer work for a charity delivering medical aid to Madagascar, called HoverAid, and am currently the Musical Director for the Children’s Choir called ‘Shout Aloud!’


The digital projects at Historyworks involve graphics for websites and other online products where I’ve been extending my previous experience of learning programmes for photo manipulation, and graphic packages for websites and other online products.  For example, a very successful project has been at the Cambridge Museum of Technology which had no tour to understand the site, where we’ve made an audio guide with the curator, taken the photographs to illustrate a tour which can be used in situ or remotely so that disabled can have access to the site, and for those able to access all the spaces we’ve even piloted new Bluetooth beacon technology so that the tour can be delivered to your phone, which has led to our also delivering artworks and sound installations in situ and to smart phones for museum events.


My next project at Historyworks which I hope to develop over this Spring and Summer involves the story of outsiders on a plot of land in Cambridge. So far we’ve made a taster based on the story of the Leper Chapel and Stourbridge Fair, but I can’t wait to have more time to develop story, songs and poetry around the place, and to interview refugee and homeless in the area so that we can tell a story which interweaves past and present. It was frustrating to have to make a taster so early in the process, where the people we could interview easily were the academics who can ground the documentary with their knowledge about the outsiders who were lepers forced to live out there on the edge of society in medieval times and then the famous Stourbridge Fair which grew up in the area along the river bank behind afterwards.  What I want to be doing is to capture the found sounds and inspire further poets and songwriting in the community on the edges of Cambridge now, so we can have a more arresting start to the documentary, which will make the hairs stand up on the back of the neck, and once I’ve figured out the gripping soundscape all the rich story telling will unravel into a poetic piece.  Can’t wait to know if we’ve won a funding award from the Whicker’s World Foundation, so role on 10th April when we find out about short-listing. Fingers and toes crossed!!


Meantime, in my other work in Cambridge and nationally, I have also an extensive experience of working with choirs and music projects, having worked with Cambridge Music Education Outreach (CaMEO) as the Assistant Music Director in the delivery of their ‘Your Song’ Concert for the Festival of Ideas. The project involved a number of local choirs, children’s choirs and university students coming together to sing songs from ‘Zimbe!’, as part of a celebration of community singing.  In this role as Assistant Music Director I led rehearsals for the Scratch Choir, ran workshops in local primary schools and conducted the mass choir for the concert.

Personally, music is very important to me, and I have sung in choirs since being a boy, singing with an A Capella male voice group for a number of years as a teenager. I helped found the Liverpool branch of Revelation Rock-Gospel choirs in 2009 and am now the Network Coordinator of the Rev charity which supports a network of choirs based in universities across the UK. The choirs not only focus on encouraging individuals to enjoy singing but also encourages them to try out new things such as experiencing conducting or arranging, in a supportive environment and helping them draw out their hidden talents and abilities. Rev is not only about making music, but about allowing people with a wide variety of backgrounds, opinions and beliefs to come together build friendships and have fun.






There will be local characters to meet along the way who will tempt the audience to want to know more, saying how the plot is a bit of a mystery, there were victims and burials but only myths about where the bodies are buried, and even when there are records they are mostly financial and legal, showing only some types of conflicts and power battles, but leaving huge gaps…. Uncertain whether there are bodies now or bodies then…


Experts we can meet to fill in some of the gaps will be Eamon Duffy, who will show how it is not surprising that Mary Magdalene was chosen as the patron saint of the Leper because in her story she goes into the wilderness for 30 years growing her hair long to cover her nakedness, and is the key emblem of the outsider and of the poor and homeless.   Eamon paints a picture of daily life, of begging at the roadside, of painful and lonely burials in the early years, a life of isolation and a sense by the community that the disease of leprosy was the result of a sin, possibly of sexual deviation, of sex gone wrong… Carole Rawcliffe takes up the story describing regimes of hospitals to care for Lepers and what we know and don’t know about who they were, unable to work they became impoverished and separated from family because of the fear of the disease, of how leprosy spread through contact of the Crusaders in the Mediterranean and beyond….  Honor Ridout takes us from the Leper Chapel to the wider plot of Stourbridge, with King John of Magna Carta fame granting a charter so that an annual fair was run in September as a fund raiser for the Leper Community, soon fame spreading so that fair expanded from Romany roots of a sale of horses at the bridge, (the original pronounciation of ‘Stir-bitch’ smoothed out by the University to ‘Stour-bridge’) to become a place of local commerce with pots and pans, an eel and oyster house, garlic and apples and nuts on sale, a whore house and a playhouse and music hall, but also a place of international repute and renown with baltic wood, books in Latin, and even a place where Newton could come to buy his prisms!  With the Reformation, Rosemary Horrocks will show in the remains of walls and pathways how decline was in the air for the monks who looked after the hospital for the sick and homeless disbanded and the land parceled out, local people were battling not to become outsiders to their own common land, for grazing cattle and foraging for fuel.  There were several riots against enclosure in the 1590s, and if it were not for Jack of the Style of Barnwell who fought for their rights, this land would not be held for the commoners for grazing today.  The Romany leader, Alfie Best, will connect these histories of outsiders and to the struggles of his people to keep up the travelling rights to the September Horse Fairs and to graze their cattle on these common lands and to reside there too, from which there are running battles across from Stourbridge now partially resolved with caravan park facilities.

We go next to Riverside where once the black abolitionist, Olaudah Equiano, befriended by Thomas Clarkson and the Quaker community, lived with his family by the River banks, his young child died at aged 4, tenderly commemorated on the wall plaque of the Chesterton Churchyard across from Stourbridge. What was it like for an outsider so clearly an ethnic migrant, an African who was not only living and walking across this plot in the 1790s, presumably him and his children the only black family, but also a black activist, writing and campaigning for the abolitionist cause, speaking at local markets and from pulpits and hayricks.  Were there those in favour of slavery and those against in this community? Some boycotting sugar and others serving tea with lashings of sugar? We go on a century to the next turbulent period for the plot, with the coming of the railway, cutting a deep embankment through the Stourbridge Meadows, but bringing with it new migrant workers and industrialization.  On the digging of clay and the building of bricks to develop and expand the city, the explosive power of fertilizer was experienced!  It was here that coprolites were discovered in the Victorian era, fossiled dinosaur faeces, which had been preserved in the clay, which when ground up proved to be a super charged fertilizer dug up and bagged by Cornish tin miners transported in the steam age from this small plot to all over the Empire, outsiders who once again used the Leper Chapel as their mass hall but also their pub, and a place to grieve after digging accidents smothered their own!  The last scenes will expand to the outsiders today, homeless who sleep on bits of plastic in the copses on the edges of the plot, refugees outside the system, too impoverished to afford a home… This is maybe where the story will end, but we will not be sure of the final scenes of story telling until we meet all those who take refuge there as a home, or travel across or use the plot to make their living or shelter there in current times….