I was a web editor and designer before the move into academia. Creativity has always been at the heart of my work.
My research covers digital media, creative industries and the cultural sector. I am interested in representation and the ways we experience history and culture. This might not seem like the typical background for innovation, but I’d encourage a closer look.
Arts and humanities research considers the nature of creativity, new ways of seeing, and how we embrace dialogue and collaboration – what could be more in tune with innovation?
In 2013 I was approached by yello brick, a creative marketing agency, as a partner for an AHRC REACT Creative Economy project. I was working with a number of cultural organisations around the UK, but was keen to collaborate with the sector in Cardiff. One of my research areas is museums and their uses of digital media, so this looked like a great opportunity.
We received feasibility funding from REACT to work on a digital heritage experience. Called ‘With New Eyes I See’, it was an experiment in working with archival materials to tell stories ‘in the wild’.
Coinciding with the 2014 First World War Centenary, it transformed the civic centre of Cardiff. Previously inaccessible archival materials were projected onto, and playfully manipulated by, buildings and the natural environment.
Lots of the feedback had made much of the subtlety of the encounter, which was something we wanted to explore more. A new project, 'Traces', was funded by an ESRC Impact Acceleration Award. A partnership between yello brick, the University and National Museum Wales, it takes participants on a journey around St Fagans’ castle gardens, moving from fact to fiction, past and present.
Created for visitors to experience either on their own or in pairs, this free bilingual app is based on archive material from the museum’s collection. The story focuses on characters who might have lived and experienced the castle and grounds in the early twentieth century.
It is not an audio or tourist guide, but a storytelling companion revealing fragmented moments of intertwining fact and fiction. Inspired by St Fagans, the space, it’s stories and archives, it is for those who are willing to get lost in the traces of a story.
Working with yello brick has taken my work down a really creative path, allowing me to engage with the public in unexpected ways. It's what innovation means to me: re-imaging what we take for granted, exploring new ways of looking at old ideas, finding gaps and spaces in established stories.