Content: ideas that stick

I specialise in writing to open out a particular subject or theme for a general audience, producing content for websites, print projects and exhibitions. This work normally relies on creative research, unlocking interest in different kinds of source material, and finding accessible ways to bring an idea or story to life. More recently I’ve worked on a number of projects for clients in the heritage sector, and particularly enjoy the challenge of winning people’s interest by making Things Then seem as important and relevant as events in the attention-snagging Now.

I’ve spent a lot of time working as an editor in both book and magazine publishing. This experience means I can spot and develop a useful idea, am able to take decisive control of the content side of a project, have a sharp eye for detail, write accurately and to fit, and know how to work effectively with designers, photographers and other writers.

Recent projects

Aldeburgh Museum, Suffolk

I was commissioned to help deliver the content element of new displays developed as part of the £745K Lottery-funded remodelling of Aldeburgh Museum (based at the Moot Hall, a Grade I-listed Tudor building on the town’s seafront). The job focused on taking content produced by a team of volunteers and reworking it to better fit the project’s vision of a ‘modern and progressive’ exhibition space – as well as to broaden the museum’s appeal in line with the Heritage Lottery Fund’s style and accessibility criteria. (Aldeburgh Museum’s new displays open autumn 2019.)

Ally was a great help in moving our project forward, providing a framework that allowed us to tell numerous stories using a very restricted word count. Starting with raw text from volunteer curators she developed a consistent and accessible narrative that works across the museum’s new displays.

Julian Ayre, Project Lead for Aldeburgh Museum Redevelopment Project

Victoria & Albert Museum, London

I was one of a small team of freelance writers used by the V&A’s digital team to create content for the museum’s new website. Based on a features-driven structure, the site is designed to both widen the reach of the V&A as one of the world’s leading sources of information on design, and to give greater public exposure to its impressive holdings (the majority of which are rarely on display). Over the course of an 18-month contract I researched and wrote a series of standalone site sections, creating features that cover topics as diverse as the paper-dress fad of the 1960s; the prison embroideries of Mary, Queen of Scots; and Arts & Crafts pattern design. 
See site section on Vivienne Westwood
See site section on William Morris
See site section on 1960s Fashion

Ally showed enormous enthusiasm for every subject we threw at her, thoroughly digging into the V&A’s collections to create accessibly written and engaging content that’s now performing well on our new site.

Joanna Jones, Senior Content Editor, Digital Media team at the V&A, London

Norfolk Welcomes, Norwich

Now in its second year, Norfolk Welcomes is an initiative designed to offer children a way into understanding aspects of the international refugee crisis. The project focuses on helping pupils in Norfolk schools to explore local histories of migration and sanctuary in specially designed teaching sessions. My role has centred on researching and producing a teacher’s guide to the story of the people who came to Norwich from the Spanish Netherlands in the mid-16th century: the city’s ‘Strangers’. I also contributed to workshops designed to equip teachers with ideas and information on which to base lesson and assembly plans, as well as delivering a presentation (‘7 Interesting Things About The Strangers’) to Y4’s in a Norwich junior school.

Presented in a concise and accessible manner, Ally’s research on the Strangers was very thorough, and proved she’s adept at identifying material of interest. Ally’s skills, ideas and expertise have also contributed significantly to the success of the Norfolk Welcomes initiative overall.

Jake Rose-Brown, Project Lead for Norfolk Welcomes

Previous projects

Dewi Lewis Publishing, Stockport

I was commissioned by Dewi Lewis (the UK’s leading independent photography publisher) to write an introduction to the photography book Forever England. Liam Bailey’s portraits offer a compellingly unfamiliar view of the inches-high inhabitants of Bekonscot in Buckinghamshire, the world’s oldest model village. 
Read the introduction

Ally’s introduction to ‘Forever England’ has real energy, and achieves exactly the balance we were looking for. It provides a perceptive context within which to read the imagery, while ensuring that the issues raised, though often complex, are communicated in a way that is accessible to a broad audience.

Dewi Lewis, Director at Dewi Lewis Publishing

Cogapp, Brighton

Designed to encourage public interest in British cultural history, Icons Online was a site commissioned from digital media agency Cogapp by the Department of Culture, Media & Sport. I researched and wrote content on a long list of ‘iconic British symbols’, including the bowler hat, the V-sign and fish & chips.

Ally excelled at not only delivering copy that was impeccably well-written and well thought through, but at finding interesting ways into a diverse range of subjects. The imagination that went into her suggestions for feature articles allowed her to explore sometimes workaday subjects in surprising and thought-provoking ways, and always in writing that combines confident authority with a lovely lightness of touch.

Daniel Hahn, Editorial Director for Icons Online

British Library, London

I researched and wrote texts for an interactive installed as part of ‘Taking Liberties’, an exhibition at the British Library that explored civil rights; topics included press censorship, devolution and Stop & Search.

Kings Cross Voices, London

I worked with BBC broadcaster Alan Dein as a volunteer interviewer on Kings Cross Voices, an archive of people’s memories of living or working in a fast-changing area of north London. My favourite interviewee was Violet, an octogenarian who talked about how much she’d enjoyed working with her sister in a broom factory in Holloway – a job Violet had done for nearly three decades. 

August Media, London

I commissioned, wrote and edited content for a series of genre-defying books on art, architecture and critical theory for arts publisher August Media. Subjects included the life of cities at different physical heights above the ground (City Levels), notions of value as defined by both museums and department stores (The Value of Things), and different artists’ explorations of the concept of absence (Nothing).