A great example of creative participatory place making is Odd Numbers – Making Myths and Milton.
It is an ongoing public art work which has involved artist Nicola Atkinson (with Lee Ivett/Baxdendale and Love Milton Project) working with Milton, a relatively new community that does not have such a deep history as other parts of Glasgow.
One key aspect of the project has been the production of 365 clay animal figurines (wee creatures), whom members of the community have been caring for over the Christmas holiday break. The wee creatures have just been returned to the artist and are currently on display with a wealth of other materials produced by the community, which begins a process of creating a mythical history of people and place. There is further information about the project online, where the artist explains the philosophy of the project in more detail, but one aspect worth highlighting is the response to the relative ahistorical nature of place:
‘It is a provocation to create a new and alternate history and mythology that through participation will connect people with place.‘
Furthermore, it is striking to read that the artist is well aware of the potency of archaeological practices in contributing to creating both peoples sense of identity and place making. The wee creatures will be purposely buried (an incavation) at Milton, creating at once an art work, archaeological site and special place for the community. The public art work Odd Numbers – Making Myths and Milton has been funded by AHRC (Connected Communities) and the University of West of Scotland. You can see the wee creatures, and the community documentation of the emerging history of the place, for the next week at All That Is Solid, WASPS South Block: well worth having a look at.
Finally, seeing this public art work also reminded me of a strand in archaeological practice which emerged about ten years ago which involved reflection on the inter-relationships between art and archaeology. More specifically, it reminded me of an incavation project undertaken by Cornelius Holtorf in Berlin. This comprised the incavation of the remains of a shared meal, which subsequently became the subject of an exhibition.
Further information about Cornelius Holtorf’s archaeological incavation can be found at the project website and in the published article:
Holtorf, C J 2004 ‘Incavation-Excavation-Exhibition’ in Brodie, N & Hills, C (eds) Material Engagements: studies in honour of Colin Renfrew. MacDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, Cambridge.