Artists Books


In the Coupar Angus Burn

This inter-generational community project took place in Coupar Angus, Perthshire. As part of my Masters study in Art, Society and Publics at DJCAD, the aim was to explore and document the history and local distinctiveness of the area through the material remains found in the burn which runs through the centre of the town. Working in collaboration with Strathmore Arts, Coupar Angus Youth Group and local residents a wide variety of objects and fragments were uncovered from the silt at the bottom of the burn. Clay pipes, bottles, ceramics and clock parts, plastic toys, cattle teeth and remnants from the railway line emerged, providing a rich social history of the town. A temporary ‘field tent’ was set up in the town square where local people could come and handle the finds and talk and speculate about the objects. Many of the artefacts triggered memories for people who told stories about the past and their connection to particular pieces.

The project was extended to include P5 pupils from Coupar Angus Primary who made drawings from small, obscure fragments inventing and imagining how the rest of the object might look. The children created stories about their imagined objects and a soundtrack was made with their voices reading their stories.

Voices from the River

I was invited to curate the finds from the burn, in an exhibition at Perth Museum and Art Gallery. I worked in collaboration with museum staff bringing together, the burn finds, the documented memories and stories from community members, and the primary school children’s drawings and story soundtrack to form “Voices From the River”. Handling tables with objects offered visitors the opportunity to create their own associations with the found objects and to trace history across time. Challenging the territory occupied by the traditional narratives that have shaped mainstream archaeology, this community engaged visual art project enabled an inter-generational group to re-tell their own stories, the invaluable voice of local experience celebrated as community expertise.

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