NEoN Digital Arts Archive

Model of a building


Nicky Bird (UK)

Guthrie Street

An art and archaeology project working with the story of a house buried in five industrial spoil heaps, known as the Five Sisters. At the project’s heart is an Edwardian photographic postcard of the house and the memories of Isabella Mason Kirk, who once lived there.

Heritage Site was realised through Cycle 10 Alt-w Production Award and a series of essential collaborations. Members of the Calder History Group shared their knowledge of people, history and place. Artist Clara Ursitti created a pungent and evocative olfactory intervention working with speculative fiction and memory. From the Glasgow School of Art Stuart Jeffrey, Research Fellow in heritage visualisation brought a background in archaeology, computer science and digital preservation. The initial creative work of Mike Marriott, artist and lecturer in Visualisation, formed the basis for the point cloud animations of house and bings, created by Clare Graham, a postgraduate student on the MSc in International Heritage Visualisation. Mike’s model also formed the basis for the 1:12 physical model, made by Kevin Thornton.
In partnership with Weave: Creativity, Community, Collaboration by Abertay University

About the Artist:

My work investigates the contemporary relevance of ‘found’ artefacts, their archives and specific sites through collaborative art processes with people who have significant connections to a hidden history. I am interested in how such artefacts, archives and sites carry both social and personal histories. This leads to a key question: what is our relationship to the past, and what is the value we ascribe to it? I have explored this through photography, bookworks, sound, the Internet and New Media. Dialogues with archivists, archaeologists, local community members, local history groups, and museum volunteers are instrumental in my practice. This means the collaborative process, and the physical site, shape the form of final artworks.

Photographs are often the starting point for a project and their relationship to a present-day landscape. Therefore, living memory – before it becomes ‘history’ – is an important link to all my projects, which is why the recent past is of special interest. Since 2007, the use of oral reminiscence and exploration of non-invasive archaeological methods have become embedded in my practice. While the final outcomes of my projects may take different forms (such as a physical model for Heritage Site), they share the themes of land and heritage, working with individuals and communities who have witnessed significant change. This means stories and memories of a place, work and family life include an aspect of the ‘unmaking’ of place, whether through economic decline and/or regeneration.