Tagged: exploration

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:

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Multi lingual coffee

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

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#walkmyworld coffee stop!

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Library exhibition on wartime experiences:

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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:

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Some of the many languages of Govanhill #walkmyworld

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International peace garden:

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International peace garden #walkmyworld

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

Wonderful tenements, a Glasgow architectural icon:

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!

Unstable buildings and cultural festivals

Today’s unconventional advent calendar is very unconventional indeed as it is long weekend of cumulative entries.  I may well devise some bonus content later for those of you who might have missed the last two days of usually daily pics and musings.

I was taken by the art featured in the calendar as someone who endeavours to unite art and planning issues; often we find ourselves working with various people who have ideas for new uses for buildings where the previous use has for some reason ceased, and unfortunately there are a lot of examples of buildings which are at risk due to continual neglect and decay.  From a cultural planning point of view these can also present themselves as opportunities as well as problems, there are many innovative examples of property re-use and reimagination.  Our towns and cities are constantly changing, instability can mean an area reinvents itself in various ways.   The Liverpool biennial is the largest contemporary arts festival in the UK (see website), and when I first visited in 2008 the city was the European capital of culture.  Interestingly, Liverpool and Liverpool John Moores Universities devised a methodology for assessing the impact of cultural festivals (download here), covering cultural access, economy and tourism, cultural vibrance and sustainability, image and perceptions and governance and delivery.

amazing art shop in liverpool

Art and architecture, Liverpool

Previous entries for the unconventional advent calendar can all be seen on the UWS Cultural Planning blog where a community of cultural planning practitioners doing the 2013 short course are recording and sharing their reflections and thoughts.

Clubs, societies and organisations- people and cultural planning

window with posters

Window in a community cafe with a call for events (Edinburgh, Forest Cafe, Tollcross)

Today’s unconventional advent calendar for 9th December is all about clubs, societies and organisations going on within an area, featuring a notice board in Cove and Kilcreggan in rural Argyll.  Virtually every area will have local clubs and societies for any type of subject, from sports to literary events to music and heritage, long established and part of a bigger organisation or perhaps small and informal and entirely independent.  People are a big part of cultural planning, they are cultural planning assets.  Whenever I go on holiday I tend to gravitate towards the small cafes and end up picking up lots of leaflets to have a nosey at what is on (libraries and parish notice boards are a good source of information too, and tourist information centres).  I have ended up going to fascinating events by serendipity taking a role, happening to be in the right place at the right time and chatting to someone or seeing a stray flyer.  Of course, internet research is good too.. but when you’re a cultural planner on holiday it pays to hang out in lovely little community places, for people watching and good coffee, and pop up events may just be coming your way.   Bike tag, anyone? Pop up street food market?  A community choir in a reclaimed warehouse arts space?

Islington Mill

My other unconventional advent calendar entries here.

Some thoughts on cultural planning

I am currently enrolled in a cultural planning course and uploaded some content reflecting on some of the approaches mentioned in the course

UWS 2013 Cultural Planning Course

Since we did the last session of the course I have been periodically tagging things on Twitter with #culturalplanning; some of these have been my own posts with photos, and others retweeting things of interest.  I thought I would compile all of these in one place for easy reference and discussion next week.

I enjoyed the visits to Paisley and Govan, particularly the new Govan Stones exhibition as the last time I visited was some time ago (2011, I had written a short blog post about the day out, also exploring some artistic and community facilities nearby).

At a Renfrewshire Witch Hunt day conference I also heard a little more about the stones and community projects

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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.


Crazy capitals

OK, so we’re all familiar with the normal architectural details which adorn our favourite buildings (if not in name then in form).. the classical capital orders of corinthian, ionic and doric.

What, then, is this?!?!

Check out these column tops!

Check out these column tops!

Lovely Brighton has an order of it’s very own, the ammonite capital.  I absolutely LOVE these.    My newly acquired Pevsner guide tells me these are a speciality of A H Wilds, who was involved in the architecture of much of Regency Brighton.  Wow!

My travel companions

My travel companions

South East Scotland and North Eastern England Coastal Train Views

I absolutely love the view from the train on the way along the coast in the North East of England.  Even on a stormy day (which it was), the view is wonderful (although taking photographs from a seat window is particularly challenging, so I hope the seat shadows and light will be excused, this is not meant to be a “quality photography” post, but an “ooh.. look at that!” post).

From Edinburgh Waverley station one gets a wonderful view of Calton Hill and Calton Gaol; enormous crenellated buildings on huge rocks loom which above the station and gradually give way to the townscape of the city (look out for the Meadowbank Stadium and its velodrome whilst heading out East).  As you pass on towards Dunbar one sees the beautiful red pantile roofs and dark stone buildings (typical of the Lothian and Borders townscape).  Dunbar station has a lovely mosaic stating the name of the station, made from pebbles which are painted white, just incase you don’t know where you are. I don’t know any other station which has an official railway typefaced sign directing you to a wishing well either!

Onward south, one is greeted with wonderful views of the coast, at times the track clings to the cliffs so one can get a peek into the secretive coves and bays of the borders with that distinctive red rock tinge.

Southern Scotland coast from the train

Southern Scotland coast from the train

When one reaches Berwick one passes through the site of Berwick Castle and crosses the great Royal Border Bridge designed by Robert Stephenson.   You can see the “old bridge” (1611) and the “new bridge” (1928):

Berwick-upon-Tweed from the train on a rainy day, old and new bridges

Berwick-upon-Tweed from the train on a rainy day, old and new bridges

On a fine day, keep an eye out for the Holy Island of Lindisfarne and the very top of Warkworth Castle (it was too stormy on my visit, as you will see from this):

North East England coast from train (near Berwick-upon-Tweed)

North East England coast from train (near Berwick-upon-Tweed)

Onwards again, Alnmouth comes into view with its colourful houses facing out towards the railway and the view of the harbour sands.

Alnmouth from the train on a rainy day, but still beautiful!

Alnmouth from the train on a rainy day, but still beautiful!

In Newcastle you zoom past the Byker Wall and past the old castle, with fine views of the Sage and the Millennium Bridge.

Newcastle from the train

Newcastle from the train

Don’t forget to wave at Antony Gormley’s the Angel of the North!

The Angel of the North from the train, on a rainy day

The Angel of the North from the train, on a rainy day

To Durham… home of truly spectacular views, taking in a the cathedral and castle- it’s not every day you pass a World Heritage Site on your train journey (infact Edinburgh Old and New Towns to Durham Castle and Cathedral could be called the World Heritage route).

Durham World Heritage Site from the train on a rainy day

Durham World Heritage Site from the train on a rainy day

Google wanderings

Oh what joy I had today when I found some “new” pages on Google Earth (I use new in inverted commas as I am not actually sure now new they are, they may have been around for some time but such was my excitement at finding these that I thought I would share them, incase others had not had the opportunity to see them yet!).

Google Art Project

I knew about the Google Art project before, it allows you to browse and zoom into the collections of over two hundred galleries around the world, from the comfort of your screen.  You can search by artist by gallery, or alternatively browse some of the many collections available which you or other users have created.  It is simple to create your own personal gallery, all you do is browse the works and then click the little pencil and cube icon at the side of the screen.  You can choose to share your collection or make it private, which is an added bonus.  These are some of the most interesting things I have found so far:

Google Street view in Galleries

Would you like to see inside a gallery and virtually wander to the front of a famous piece of art, and put yourself nose to pixel with it?  Here is a John Constable work, in Tate Britain.

There are several international galleries with this feature, view the current list here.

Google Plus slideshows

I can almost smell the espresso of Piazza San Marco through this feature…

We are no doubt all familiar with entering results in Google search bar and getting a list of relevant sites.  If you type in the name of certain famous sites  you can get a stream of text information, maps and reviews of the places in question, and if you click on any of the photographs it gives you a full screen slideshow all about this area.  I am yet to explore Google+ and its social side, but as I understand it, if you are registered for this it allows you to post information and share it with friends in your circle (or publicly) so I think this might be a good tool for people planning a group holiday.

World Wonders

This site allows you to view UNESCO world heritage sites, and lots of informative background information about their importance and history.  This interface allows you to view collections of sites, and search by country, continent or theme.  You can even dive under the Great Barrier Reef!

Here is a rather lovely looking Stonehenge:

Here are the Trulli houses in Puglia, you can actually “walk” up and around the streets there.  One day I will go and see these in real life, but  in the mean time I have this site to entertain and delight me.

Happy browsing, I would love to hear of some of the places which you find out there.

Seeking out Quiet Space in the Busy City

Sometimes one would like a quiet space. In Glasgow this is easy, the old nickname for the City is “Dear Green Place” due to the number of parks and gardens within the City boundary so you are never far from a little but of nature.  I recently took my camera to the Necropolis (Victorian “City of the Dead” where all the great and good were buried), which some might say is a little bit of a strange way to pass the time, but a wander around this cemetery is far from dismal or spooky as it has some fascinating architectural monuments and wonderful views over the city.  If you are lucky you may even run into some of the resident deer, though they were proving to be a little elusive on my visit!  I love the care and attention to detail seen in the architectural and monumental masonry, there are some delicate inscriptions and bold columns carved with everything from Greek acanthus leaves to Egyptian eyes.

There is a lot of information on the Glasgow Necropolis in the Glasgow City Council Necropolis Heritage Trail, and the Friends of the Necropolis website. You can often pick up paper versions of the heritage trail from nearby public libraries (try GOMA Library in Queen Street within the City Centre, after a nosey at the art upstairs), or the Tourist Information Centre (now located on Buchanan Street).

When you are finished your wander around the Necropolis, a pleasant place to sit is the Zen Garden designed in 1993 by Yasutaro Tanaka.  It sits in the grounds of the Saint Mungo Museum of religious life which houses a fascinating collection of paintings and objects from all over the world and celebrates the diversity of Glasgow’s cultural heritage and population.  One can even take tea in the zen garden on a sunny day, as there is a restful cafe in the museum.