EARC Conference 2022 – Art and culture as a driver in place-making and levelling up (2): a practitioners’ roundtable

Image from ‘Finding Emerson Open’ project

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. 

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