The forgotten man and his work… remembered

Students Tutor Sara Nesteruk (far right) is pictured with motion graphic students (left to right) Merry Eady, Nicole H.D.W. Sinclair, Emma Perrett, Beth Minshall, Johnathan Clementson

Thu, 26 May 2016 10:37:00 BST

Few have heard of Huddersfield statistician George H. Wood, whose work is archived in Heritage Quay, but now his work has been brought to life by the University’s motion graphics students

Portrait image of George H. Wood drawn by student Rustis BalciunasGeorge H Wood

GEORGE Henry Wood was an avid statistician whose facts and figures about the working poor in early 20th century Britain are of special interest to historians, who are able to examine them in a special archive collection at the University of Huddersfield.  Now, G.H. Wood has proved to be an inspiration to another group – students who are developing skills that will equip them for careers that include designing title sequences for TV programmes.


They have produced a series of short films that explore Wood’s legacy and draw on his statistical findings.  These have already had a public exhibition and can be seen online at a special website

The University offers a variety of courses in graphic design and animation, with motion graphics – used in mainly commercial contexts such as television – being one of the disciplines, tutored by lecturer Sara Nesteruk, an experienced professional in the field.

In conversation with Lindsay Ince, an archivist at the University award-winning Heritage Quay archives centre, Sara learned about the George Henry Wood Collection, which consists of a large number of pamphlets, books and manuscripts packed with sociological statistics.

“The collection is so intriguing and the material seemed to offer a good opportunity for a creative response,” said Sara, who has formed a motion graphics club for students on graphic design and animation courses.  It is named Motion-go and samples of the work of club members have been posted on a vimeo site.

Six members of the club took up Sara’s idea and paid visits to Heritage Quay, delving into the G.H. Wood Collection. 

Statistical information on topics such as death rates, health issues, wage levels and pay differentials between men and women in the early 1900s were highlighted in the short sequences created by the students.  They also developed their own varied interpretations of a portrait of Wood, who was born in 1874 and died in 1945. 

“The students went back to Heritage Quay a few times and responded very well to the material,” said Sara.  “They wanted to take the statistics and do creative things with them.  They also found out about George Henry Wood and responded to that.”

The sequence of motion graphic films had been exhibited publicly at Huddersfield’s Piazza Centre, and details of the project will be kept at Heritage Quay – meaning it will be stored in the same archives that inspired it.

The six Motion-go members – all second-year undergraduates – who took part are…

-        Rustis Balciunas

-        Jonathan Clementson

-        Merry Eady

-        Beth Minshall

-        Emma Perrett

-        Nicole Sinclair

Lecturer Sara Nesteruk is a motion graphics and animation specialist who has produced work, including title sequences, for employers and clients that include BBC Sport, the National Theatre, Channel 4 and TV production company Endemol. 

She is currently engaged in a doctoral project titled Recipes for Baking Bread, which will be a series of short films exploring the famine induced in Ukraine by Stalin in the 1930s.  The title stems from the appropriation of grain when farms were collectivised.  Sara’s grandparents were Ukrainian.

  • George Henry Wood was born in 1874.  During his lifetime, he was an active member of a number of groups and societies and involved with the collation of statistics relating to the working poor.  By 1910, he was employed as a lecturer in statistics at Huddersfield Technical College.  By 1926, Wood had been elected as a member of the Council of the Royal Statistical Society.  Wood became Secretary of the Huddersfield and District Woollen Manufacturers and Spinners Association and was heavily involved in the reduction of working hours and rises in wages.  The Heritage Quay collection comprises most of Wood’s reference library, deposited with Huddersfield Technical College as a long-term loan in 1926 and subsequently given to the institution in 1948, after Wood’s death in 1945.

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