Tagged: Are You Here

Experiments and reflections on digital media community exploration

As someone with a huge passion for  exploring my local environment and digging into the history and architecture of an area, and ways of presenting this creatively I am rather taken by a project which I found on Twitter called “Walk My World”, the invention of William O’Byrne who is based in Newhaven, USA.  The idea is that you carry out a journey, once a week, and then record and share that using various digital media tools (he suggests Twitter, Vine and Instagram and produces a handy guide for newcomers to these on his site).  There’s still an opportunity to take part if you wish… join in!

I personally have not used Instagram much as until fairly recently I didn’t have a phone with a very good camera (it was quite a low resolution), preferring to play with my SLR, but since I got a new phone in November I have been playing with the many free and low cost apps which allow you to snap, shoot and share your view of the world.  The Walk My World project seemed a good time to try out Instagram.. so I took a wander around Govanhill in Glasgow.

A wonderful multi-lingual community cafe, in an Evangelical church hall, which asks for only donations for breakfast:

Multi lingual coffee

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Said free/ donation breakfast (which was lovely, as were all the people in the pop up cafe):

#walkmyworld coffee stop!

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Library exhibition on wartime experiences:

library exhibit on wartime life and stories #walkmyworld

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The library history exhibition, including a little alcove devoted to R D Laing, an influential psychiatrist born in the area:

The many languages of Govanhill:

Some of the many languages of Govanhill #walkmyworld

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International peace garden:

International peace garden #walkmyworld

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Community baths (I had visited these at Doors Open Day before):

United we swim, community trust wellbeing centre including baths refurbishment #walkmyworld

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Wonderful tenements, a Glasgow architectural icon:

I love tenements, even in the rain they are beautiful #walkmyworld

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I discovered a lot about the area, even from this short walk!  I had not created a video in Instagram before, and also played with the tagging and mapping functions.  I know Instagram is not exactly “new news” but it is funny how sometimes we need a reason to play with new stuff.  I also learnt that embedding Instagram posts in WordPress only needs the URL, not the embed code.  I like to learn through play, and this sort of project is “right up my street”, thanks William!

I completely agree with the comment in William’s blog post that educators should create an online brand for themselves (thinking before they share), I am quite aware of my “digital footprint” and in some ways my background may appear somewhat diverse (town planning, conservation, education, creative media) but I am lucky enough to be able to combine all of these through the various strands of my professional work (on reflection, I am needing to revisit my own website to better represent this; although I was very happy with it when I created it at the time and I have gradually added content such as my “Are You Here” project exploring family history links and the environment of Bristol and Brighton, my professional practice has evolved to represent a variety of skills).

As well as undertaking freelance illustration and digital interpretation projects in arts and heritage, and volunteering my time for Planning Aid Scotland, in my other professional persona I am currently working as Educational Co-ordinator at the University of the West of Scotland, on the Digital Commonwealth project.  This is a project which is designed to help marginalised communities (such as those who live in areas of socio-economic deprivation) develop digital media literacy skills using readily available technology and tools.  The project is framed around the digital reporting of Queen’s Baton Relay for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, with projects based around the topics of people, place, culture and exchange.  I have been really impressed with the creative results of the #walkmyworld project beginning to be shared on Twitter and it made me even more excited about the possible results of planned creative digital media projects which will take place as part of the Digital Commonwealth project!

Here are some of my favourite #Walkmyworld posts so far:

Vine poetry:

Happy Twitter dogs!

  More dogs (but Vine):

The wonders of Islay:

The fabulous benefits of creating enthusiastic online communities!

Happy exploring, creating, learning and sharing!

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Are You Here- An Exhibition Documentary

This is a short video on the recent art exhibition I had at Gladstone’s Land, Edinburgh. It was filmed by Bad Monkey Films, and shows the installation process, opening night event and a short introduction to the project featuring comments from some of the attendees.

Exhibition- Are You Here, Gladstone’s Land Gallery, Edinburgh

I am currently showing my latest work at the Gladstone’s Land Gallery, Lawnmarket, Edinburgh (on the Royal Mile).  The exhibition showcases some of the illustration work which I developed from my genealogical travels, and also a preview of my e-book which accompanies the exhibition.

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Hope to see you here… do come along if you happen to be in Edinburgh!

 

The wall of inspiration

So, this is what part of my studio looks like at the moment after two weeks of research away for my Are You Here Project.  I thought I would share it for a bit of fun (I liked the way the printed out photographs all sat nicely together), and also ask how other people who do creative work get inspiration and plan out projects.

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Retracing the steps of illustrator Stella Langdale

Yesterday I made a journey to Hove Library to see the book “Unknown Brighton” which was published in 1926, containing text by George Aitchison and illustrations by Stella Langdale, who is a member of my family tree.  I had first heard of this book through the website “Ye Olde Sussex Pages” and a little research using the Brighton and Hove online web catalogue revealed that there was a copy in Hove library.

I had never been to Hove before, yet I “knew” where to find it as I instinctively wandered upstairs and found the local studies room, sought out the Brighton shelves and there it was!  I was absolutely delighted to be able to hold the very book in my own hands.  It had that well worn appearance, with pages a little fragile and well thumbed.  The blue cover and gold embossed lettering was slightly faded and looking to the side one could observe the curved and folded leaves of paper, hiding the treasure within.

Stella did 24 aquatint illustrations for this book, and a number of line drawings which annotate the text at key parts.  Even though these were prints of aquatints, it was wonderful to see these as they reveal a little of Stella’s style.  The influence of the Glasgow school in her long flowing lines can be seen, particularly within the Pavilion illustration, and elegant use of tone and shadow add to the delight (view more of Stella’s work here, and read my previous posts about my genealogical art journey project here).  The words of the book relate to the many sides of Brighton which a visitor may not know about; written in the 1920’s one wonders to what extent the visitor of those times went “of the beaten track” to discover the environment beyond the seafront, aquarium and pavilion.  Indeed, many visitors today may do the very same, although the Lanes is of course now well known for shopping and entertainment.

The Lanes today, with a welcome and bunting

The Lanes today, with a welcome and bunting

There were a number of references to the development of Brighton as a settlement, and also to several works held in the museum.  I ventured to Hove museum as it was nearby, and discovered the very same amber pot which Stella had completed line drawings of!  Information panels told me that this pot was “one of Britain’s most important bronze age finds”; for me it is also a great family history find… nose to case with something Stella had seen, and drawn!

Face to face with a find of historical and family significance

Face to face with a find of historical and family significance

On return to town I also went back to the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery, seeking out a mug which featured in the book.  I knew from a previous visit that it was likely to be part of the Henry Willett collection, as a maritime themed item of pottery (Willett was a local businessman who amassed a huge collection of porcelain and catalogued it into various themes to help people learn about different topics relevant to social history, it was given to Brighton museum in 1903- therefore quite new for the Langdale family and other Brighton residents at the time when Unknown Brighton was written).  I scoured the display cases and opened all of the discovery drawers in the room, to no avail.  No sailors cup.  I did find it on one of the interactive displays, however, so I have “sort of” seen it, and discovered it was made in 1895 by Charles Brennam.  Item 324 must be in store!

Brighton Museum and Art Gallery- source of inspiration and treasures!

Brighton Museum and Art Gallery- source of inspiration

In the section regarding the Lanes, available on the “Olde Sussex” website two images from this book are shown, one of Black Lion Lane  and one of a fig tree.  After my amber cup find I was feeling upbeat and thought, yes, I will try and find those views.  Chances of finding a random tree in the middle of a busy City Centre?  Pretty minimal, but I thought I would try anyway.  The Lanes were less busy than the previous few bank holiday sunny days and it had only just stopped raining.  The paving was sprinkled with rain and shone in the sun, good exploring territory as only the hardy few would be out and about at this time (late lunch, when those huge bed and breakfast full English-es have worn off and tastebuds start demanding attention again).

Black Lion Lane was easy, I had actually walked down this lane before, and seen the lion (as detailed in a previous post).  On thinking about the aquatint, I recreated the view in my minds eye; it was the route from Ship Street to Black Lion Street.  The little inshot about halfway up the snickel (as Yorkshire folk would call it, but here my Pevsner guide tells me it is called a twitten) looked familiar, it was on the right hand side of the aquatint therefore must be in that direction.  The hanging lantern was long gone, a modern street light was in its place.  I took a photo of this and then walked back in the other direction to take another photograph, just to be on the safe side.  I marvelled at the crazy pebbled walls, which have now become familiar to me and stroked one appreciatively on the way past.  It was shiny and smooth with the passing of many people.  I wondered if Stella may have done the same thing.

Black Lion Lane view

Black Lion Lane view (compare with original)

At the end of the lane I stepped out of the enclosure to the street and into the light of Ship Street, looking back at my find, happily, and pausing to think how interesting it was to actually be walking in the places where my ancestors had been.  I peeked across the road.  There was another twitten, inviting exploration.  I was feeling a little tired and was about to go back through the lane to find a coffee stop, but thought “no, another five minutes won’t hurt”.  I walked across the busy street (avoiding the white and teal taxi, whose colours reflect the railings on the promenade) and into the lane.  This lane was no ordinary lane.  There were buildings on one side and a low wall with gates on the other.  Some plants were hanging over the brick wall and some trellis was trying to keep control of a tangle of greenery which appeared to be winning that particular battle.  Looking up, I saw bright green leaves with the sun shining through. Slowly it dawned on me that there was something unusual about these leaves.  They were a pretty shape and some had fruit.  Was this THE tree?   Not being the best at botanical studies I doubted my initial judgement, but I took some photographs and thought out loud “how long do fig trees live?”.  This was not just any old tree, this was a beautiful tumbling tree, whose branches reached over the wall and spread out happily.  Just like the one in Stella’s drawing.

Stella's fig tree?

Stella’s fig tree?

I retired to the 16th Century Cricketers Arms (Brighton’s oldest pub) and had a long lemonade and lime pause.  Had I really found the tree?  Was this the one in the aquatint?  Was this a fig tree or was I just making it up, hoping it was true?  I resorted to modern technology; wifi revealed that yes, this was indeed what a fig tree looked like, and yes, it did look remarkably like the one in the aquatint.  Ficus said Wikipedia.  Ficus religiousa I thought!  Not the Bodhi tree, but a little family tree remaining just for me!

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The sources of information which I used for this blog post are:

Travels, moves, cycling and other transportation

So, when I was in Bristol I commented on how much I liked my “bike experience” there, and  a few people (James Corner and Calmgrove, do check out their blogs) mentioned I should seek out the cycle map.  I do indeed rather like it, a 3D view of all of the major cycle routes.

The map is located by the new square, which contains @Bristol and the planetarium; it made me think about the big distances which my family have moved over time, something I am considering for my art project.  How did they get where they were going and why did they go there?  Where have your family moved to or from?  Do you have any exciting genealogical adventures to share?

Bristol to the north of england

Bristol to the North of England

Brighton and beyond

Brighton and beyond

My bike needs to get out, it is feeling sad attached to the railings where I am staying! I have been walking everywhere here.

West Pier, Brighton, a sad shell of its former self

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I had heard about West Pier before (and indeed glimpsed it from afar on a previous visit to the city) but I went for a closer look yesterday and was deeply saddened to see its demise.  Only the seagulls can view those iron beams and beautiful decorative elements properly now.  I have created a slideshow of the images so you can see different views.

When my relatives were here it would have been a wonderful sight to behold, and also the “new pier” opened in 1899 (the one which now has the flashing Brighton pier sign on.. as this postcard from the Old Stratford Upon Avon Brighton section shows).