EARC Conference 2022 – Art and culture as a driver in place-making and levelling up (2): a practitioners’ roundtable
Venue: Grove Room
Following on from the morning’s session on art as a driver for place-making and levelling-up, we will hear from a range of projects that engaged with local communities to develop a sense of identity, understanding and pride.
AR ‘scapes: Voices from the Concrete Barges
Kate McLean and Richard Perks (Kent), and Rosa Woolf Ainley (RCA)
This project sought to establish ways to access and disseminate concepts of ‘future heritage’ and ‘multiple-perspective local heritage’ through creative technologies and media, with a focus on the concrete barges and surrounding forms of nature (including, for example, pipets, water rats and voles) at Rainham Marshes, Essex.
Many local sites of interest go unnoticed, especially to local populations; this project facilitated the development of a prototype AR experience to draw attention to such a place, its inhabitants and its ‘scapes. By combining text, sound-art, illustration and image with modern technologies, as well as additional artistic contributions sourced from the local community, this prototype presents a potential AR experience, capable of enhancing the site both physically and imaginarily. Phase two will develop the project further – in collaboration with AR specialists – to build a fully functional mobile device app that can be rolled out across multiple sites along the Thames estuary, by creating, and respectively configuring a range of site-specific ‘assets’.
This session will outline the approach we took during phase one, to develop visual, sound and text-based assets for promoting estuary heritage. We will showcase two prototype AR-scape experiences which merge the real world with the digital one with the aim of engaging new audiences. We are seeking honest feedback on the respective value and engagement of each to help direct the future of the project.”
Queering the Estuary; Unfiltered Coast
Lavinia Brydon, Declan Wiffen, and Rob Barker (Kent)
Drawing on several recent and on-going research projects, this session looks at how the arts and/or creative practice can be used to engage local communities with the coast. It considers what works and what doesn’t in terms of public engagement activity in coastal areas accounting for different demographics (e.g. young people) and, accordingly, different viewpoints and approaches.
The research projects that serve as initial anchor points for the session include the AHRC-funded “Unfiltered Coast” and the Creative Estuary-funded “Queering the Estuary”. In keeping with the collaborative nature of these projects and the Eastern Arc conference, we have invited a young person who assisted us on the “Unfiltered Coast” project and contributed to the subsequent art exhibition to co-deliver this session. Examples of the art from this project are on display in the plenary chamber.
Finding Emerson Open
Julia Devonshire (originalprojects) and Marián Arribas-Tome (UEA)
Originalprojects is a charity that works with contemporary artists and communities in Great Yarmouth, co-creating ambitious objects, experiences and developmental activities that respond to the place and people, building relationships for a sustainable future.
Working with Marián Arribas-Tome, ‘Finding Emerson Open’ was a collaboration with photographer Mark Cator. He invited members of the community to submit images of Yarmouth in the same naturalistic vein as P. H. Emerson, a Victorian photographer-pioneer who was drawn to rural subjects and was fascinated by East Anglia’s traditional ways of life, which he documented.
Michael Tymkiw is Senior Lecturer in Art History at the University of Essex, where he is also Academic Lead for the University’s Digital Cultural and Creative Initiatives. Michael received his PhD in Art History from the University of Chicago, where he also completed an MBA. Before coming to Essex, he was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz—Max Planck Institut. Michael specializes in modern and contemporary visual culture, with a particular interest in issues of spectatorship. He is author of Nazi Exhibition Design and Modernism (2018), and recent or forthcoming publications have appeared in The Art Bulletin, Art Journal, Art History, Leonardo, and PLOS One. He is currently finishing a book project entitled “Walking on Art, 1950s–Now.”
Dr Kate McLean works at the intersection of human-perceived smellscapes, cartography and the communication of ‘eye-invisible’ sensed data. To achieve this, she leads international public smellwalks and translate the resulting data using digital design, watercolour, animation, scent diffusion and sculpture into smellmaps showcasing the invisible world of smells.
Educated in Boston, USA, the University of Edinburgh and the Royal College of Art in London Kate previously led the BA Graphic Design programme at Canterbury Christ Church University before joining Kent in 2021.
Kate has an international profile and is often invited as speaker at workshops and conferences around the world across a range of fields from Landscape Architecture to Design, Olfactory Heritage to Sensory Studies. She also works to promote understanding of anosmia and parosmia for international charitable organisations.
At the University of Kent, Kate leads the Graphic Design programme within the School of Architecture and Planning. The course enables students to develop and hone key skills as designers – translation, creation and articulation – through projects that focus on environmental and experiential graphic design problems from signage and wayfinding to typographic shrines, digital collage book cover design to moving image. The course interweaves with the BA in Spatial and Interior Design, also offered by the School.
Rich is a guitarist, composer and musicologist. He is one of Europe’s leading exponents of the fretless electric guitar, has extensive live, studio and theatre experience in the commercial industry, and has performed all over the world. He continues to be in great demand as a session guitarist, playing much contemporary, experimental, improvised and World music. His debut album Imposition (2009) received critical acclaim and his music has been performed internationally.
Rich completed a PhD at Brunel University in 2013, submitting a portfolio of compositions and an accompanying thesis entitled Combining Musical Identities through Composition and Improvisation; this practice-based research addressed the construction of compositional methodologies for improvising musicians, primarily working with performers from non-congruent musical backgrounds and cultures.
Rich’s current research interests include the extended performance possibilities of the fretless electric guitar, guitar-focused musicology/analysis, the combination of composition with improvisation, and intercultural collaboration. Recent publications have addressed aspects of modern-day electric guitar performance and practical approaches to music-cultural hybridity.
Dr Lavinia Brydon is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Arts at the University of Kent. Her research centres on issues of place, space and the environment in – and of – the arts. This includes audience development for regional arts venues and heritage sites, the impact of location filming and cultural tourism on local communities, the representation of places on screen and page, and eco-critical arts practice.
Current research projects that speak to these interests are: ‘Unfiltered Coast: Engaging Young People in Coastal Climate Change’ (AHRC, 2021-22) and ‘Liminal Spaces: (Un)used Spaces?’ (Creative Estuary, 2021-22). Lavinia is also working as cultural evaluator for Creative Estuary’s skills development project, Re:Generation 2031.
Declan Wiffen is Lecturer in Contemporary Literature and Critical Theory in the School of English at the University of Kent. He is editor of Litmus: the lichen edition, a magazine exploring the intersection of science, poetry, art and…lichen; organiser of the writing workshops Cruising the Estuary and Cruising Nature; a collaborator on the AHRC funded project The Unfiltered Coast; & part of the artist collective Queer Estuary.
Recent writing can be found in Fieldnotes 003, Responses to Derek Jarman (Pilot Press) and The Mechanics Institute Review. His pamphlet, indiscriminate lanking, was published by Invisible Hand Press.
Dr Robert Barker is a Lecturer in Chemistry and Forensic Science and Innovation Lead for the Division of Natural Sciences.
Julia Devonshire works with Kaavous Clayton to run originalprojects; an organisation that uses contemporary art to develop a proactive creative presence in Great Yarmouth where they live and work. originalprojects; builds fresh place-based connections and collaborations that uncover, support, create and promote cultural assets.
This has taken the form of public art commissions, co-creating YARMONICS (a sonic arts festival), Finding Emerson (a biennial photography festival), producing podcasts, curating exhibitions, running workshops, organising walking tours and more.
They were both on the founding committee that set up OUTPOST artist run gallery in 2004.
Julia’s varied career has spanned contemporary art, heritage and cultural development roles in the public sector, academic, artist-led and supporting the grassroots enterprise community. She is interested in finding innovative inter-sector linkages between ideas, people and initiatives whilst championing and supporting local talent, development and skills retention. 2017 – 2022 she was post as Cultural Lead for Great Yarmouth Borough Council developing the Culture, Heritage and Tourism strategy and place-based, culture-led regeneration activity. She also co-Directed Norfolk Enterprise Festival 2019 reaching out across sectors and specialisms to connect the wider grassroots enterprise community and join the dots between business, research and culture.
Together with running originalprojects; both Julia and Kaavous are responsive to external commissions and freelance opportunities in their respective specialisms providing consultancy, mentoring, project management, technical support and more.
Marián Arribas-Tomé is Lecturer in Translation Studies, Language and Politics and Spanish at the University of East Anglia (UEA) and a member of the Higher Education Academy. She has worked for 6 UK universities in Glasgow, London and Norwich. She develops projects to support diversity and inclusion, namely www.spanishbytes.com and www.linguabytes.com. She is a trustee of the not-for-profit organisation Original Projects and a member of the Executive Committee of the University Council of Modern Languages (UCML). She is working on several innovation and teaching development projects with partners within the European university network Aurora Alliance.
During her career, Marián’s interest in the multimodality of artistic expression has influenced her teaching and affected her writing of new teaching materials, where many decisions have both an intellectual and an aesthetic dimension intimately interwoven. For Marián, teaching is the site where art and other disciplines meet, and she keenly explores the value of this symbiosis. Marián has written on Cubism in “I want to say the nude”: The Philosophical Contribution of Cubism. She has exhibited “Intercultural Pieces” and given talks such as “Intercultural Dialogue through Photography” for Norwich City of Interculture, in The Forum.
She has also worked for the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts with “Foreign Language as an Artefact” and “My City in Four Envelopes”, all these examples of her belief in the power of art in playing a substantial role in academic contexts.