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The foundations on which Green Rook is built
Swindon Museum and Art Gallery Swindon Museum and Art Gallery

Planning, strategy, advocacy, partnership co-ordination, fund-raising, support seeking and instigation of a refresh for Swindon's museum and art gallery. As well as a stunning collection of twentieth century art, Swindon has huge numbers of historical and archaeological artefacts, many of them in storage. This project centred around giving the museum a new lease of life through successful application to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and funding from Swindon Borough Council (SBC).

The plan involved tidying up the building inside and out, removal of old cabinets etc., decorating, signage and carpets, new interpretation, creation of spaces for local groups and school students, and a number of events and activities to involve more of the local community.

The Digital Picture The Digital Picture

Concept, direction, compilation of survey, strategy, fund-raising, management, print and publicity. This UK-wide project, with Mick Eadie (POLEMIC), Polly Christie (TATE) and others from the AHDS Visual Arts team, was devised to look at changes, for better or worse, in the use of images as the world switches from analogue to digital. With funding from the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC), the project ran a consultation exercise (survey, events and activities) to find out what impact the digital era was having on art, particularly in regards to copyright, quality, costs, functionality, standards and culture change.

In response, David Bowie, as a patron of the arts, pointed out that digital mediums provide younger artists with a platform to exhibit their work and are complementary to traditional exhibitions and projects. Sculptor Antony Gormley said: “the Angel of the North could not have been made without digital space”, but also emphasised the importance to him of taking his work “out of the virtual and into the real”.

A MINI Adventure

Minis on Alexander HouseMinis on Alexander HouseMinis on Alexander House

PROJECT: Following a comment from a local magazine (LINK), the inspired staff and owners of Alexander House (LENTA BUSINESS CENTRES), decided to use the building as a giant canvas for an artwork. A public competition led to the idea of celebrating some of Swindon's 'icons', and this design was then created. It includes the Magic Roundabout, two fibre-glass MINIs from Plant Swindon, and, originally, a speed camera in honour of Swindon being the first place to do away with them. Sadly, the speed camera didn't survive the planning process, but the flying wizards of SKYTEK UK LTD put the rest together to create this dramatic landmark, especially nice at night when the car lights come on.

INVOLVEMENT: Concept, development, initial project planning & management, public competition, advocacy & documentation for Councillors, layout & artwork design, acquisition of MINIs from BMW, planning permission, and promotion.

Stonehenge Stonehenge Interpretation

Design and illustration for interpretation boards and associated brochure for the world's most famous stone circle, Stonehenge, working with TV archaeologist and Stonehenge expert Dr Julian Richards. Also, creation of one of the first virtual models of the complete stone circle, enabling it to be twisted and turned and viewed from all angles and in different lighting conditions.

Usability AHDS Usability

Development, planning and writing of policy, testing and publications for system usability in the Arts and Humanities Data Service. The main thrust of this project was the development of a policy that would ensure the AHDS took an international standard lead in user-centred web design. As well as advising national bodies on the subject, lecturing and contributing to publications, system testing was executed for, amongst others, for the Archaeological Data Service (ADS) and the History Data Service (HDS).

Commenting on one of the publications co-authored, international usability guru Jacob Neilsen said: "Follow the authors' advice and the usability of your products will double."

Olympics Olympic Live Site and Torch

Responsibility, planning, fund management and partner liaison for one of twenty official Olympic Live Sites, and lead on ensuring the Olympic Torch visited Swindon. With input from the Olympic organising committee (LOCOG), event management by Kirsty Heber-Smith and Business Improvement District company, INSWINDON, plus Swindon Borough Council (SBC), a series of spectacular, sport-related events took place as well as a huge torch show with guest visit from footballer DIDIER DROGBA.

eLearning University for the Creative Arts elearning

Direction, planning, liaison, management, talks and editing of work over several years to help the University of the Creative Arts (UCA) develop its elearning facilities. The work included an in depth report, with Polly Christie (TATE), into current facilities, exploration of Virtual Learning Environment options and recommendations for development of policies for Digital Asset Management, copyright, teaching practice and pedagogical standards etc.. In practical terms, several phases of work included the development of a system allowing students to upload and share their own artwork both internally and to the outside world.

All Our Heritage in Glorious 3D

PastScapePROJECT: PastScape was developed for ENGLISH HERITAGE as a simple portal to complex data. Unsurprisingly, EH owns huge volumes of information about archaeological and historical monuments. However, much of it is in systems designed for heritage professionals, and maybe not very useful for normal human beings.

The idea behind PastScape was to make information accessible to wider audiences. As well as a keyword search facility, a completely novel, Flash-based interface was created to help users find information without professional knowledge or terminology. Picking an area, a general subject, and a rough time period, would return information from a variety of databases, including maps, images etc., that fitted the user's criteria.

INVOLVEMENT: Concept, development, strategy, project planning and management, advocacy, target user research, interface graphics, design & build, usability testing, documentation, branding/naming and promotion.

Gallery New gallery/exhibition space

Identification, proposal and planning of gallery/exhibition space with Swindon Borough Council (SBC) to answer a serious shortage of such spaces in the town. A suite of rooms in the old Town hall was recognised as having potential for exhibitions etc., and was refurbished with new carpets, decoration and lighting. Since then, the space has been used to hold a number of major exhibitions and displays, and, after being adopted by the Central Library, also provides space for educational and literary events.

Film Festival Swindon Film Festival

Concept, advocacy and partnership working with Swindon Film Society (SFS) to create a new FILM FESTIVAL. In the early days, advice and help was given in finding/developing new venues, fund-raising, event organisation, brochure/posters graphic design and print, marketing and promotion. With its broad and incredible range of films, SFS has taken the festival from strength to strength each year since its inception.

VAST The Hunt for Submarines in Classical Art

Initial development, acquisition of funds, direction and lead on research/report writing for this project for the ICT in Arts and Humanities Research Programme, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). The project, with art historian, Rupert Shepherd (HORNIMAN MUSEUM), explored a huge variety of Information Communication Technologies and their potential use in the visual arts. A web resource was developed in tandem, allowing artists and technologists to share data.

The project's title came from the fact that even sonar developed for military uses can be used in the creation of art.

A Picture Paints a Thousand Clichés

Various types of illustration, from traditional pencil, pen or brush, to 'experimental' archaeological reconstruction. Also, experience in computer generated graphics, and photography/Photoshop skills (e.g. all the photographs on this website).
Bronze AgeOtziThatched hutMedieval Barn

Underpass art Great Western Underpass

Concept, project planning, advocacy and instigation of a project for FORWARD SWINDON to give new life to a pedestrian underpass joining two main shopping areas. The project centred around a striking set of creations by artist BRUCE WILLIAMS. Using a theme of people who had worked for the railways, ten backlit, stainless steel panels were constructed, each depicting an individual from a different period. To complement these, steel lettering and a panel depicting Victorian workers were also added.

The artworks were part of a wider project which included cleaning of brickwork, improvement of lighting, removal of redundant pipes etc., new paintwork and general refurbishment of this listed building.

VADS VADS Online Image Gallery

Direction, management, strategy, research, advice, and income generation for the nationwide Visual Arts Data Service (VADS). VADS is an online resource for the visual arts with a huge collection of images free for use in an educational context. It was developed as part of the Arts and Humanities Data Service, through funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC).

As well as its image collection, VADS specialises in digital image research, making visual arts available online, and elearning resources, working with and advising arts institutions across the UK, particularly in the higher education and research sectors.

St. George's Day St. George's Day

Concept, planning, co-ordination, partner-liaison, publicity, and event management for a new event for St. George's day. Many groups hold their own events for this day of Englishness, but the idea of this project was to create a single, central parade and 'fete' atmosphere that would join everyone together to celebrate everything that is good about today's multi-cultural England.

With the help of a five metre tall processional giant, local music shop/promoter ALAN HOLMES and INSWINDON, the event has grown each year, eventually filling the town centre with stages, tents, food outlets, concerts and people enjoying themselves.

Richard Jefferies Museum

PROJECT: This beautiful old house, birthplace of Victorian author and naturalist Richard Jefferies, is one of Swindon's little secret gems, sited on the edge of the stunning Coate Water Country Park. However, like many small museums, it has suffered from under investment. So, over the last few years, this project has been steadily working with the RICHARD JEFFERIES SOCIETY, Swindon Borough Council (SBC) and FORWARD SWINDON to give the place a new lease of life and preserve it for future generations to enjoy.

INVOLVEMENT: Forward planning, strategy, fund-raising, Museum Trust development, advocacy and support-seeking, securing MLA accreditation, achieving charitable status, documentation, improving accessibility, signage, publicity & website, and development of events.

Richard Jefferies MuseumRichard Jefferies MuseumRichard Jefferies MuseumRichard Jefferies MuseumRichard Jefferies Museum

Theatre Square Theatre Square

Concept, fund-raising, partnership liaison, councillor support and initial project management of a project to refresh a town centre area with plants, benches and rocks. Funding was secured, via GROUNDWORK and FORWARD SWINDON, from MARKS & SPENCER and Swindon Borough Council (SBC). With the help of local artists from ARTSITE, TWIGS and volunteers, a concrete pedestrian area was given a bit of green cheering up.

Odundo Pot Artists and IT

Direction, liaison, strategy, editing, final reporting and publicity for case studies exploring artists and their uses, or potential uses, of computer technologies. Working with the University of the Creative Arts (UCA), the project included artist Emmanuelle Waekerle's use of video/audio based IT to investigate non-verbal communication, and ceramicist Magdalene Odundo's exploration of three-dimensional digital modelling in contemporary craft ceramics research.

The image on the left shows a piece by Magdalene Odundo © Royal College of Art.

Anne Frank Anne Frank + You

Instigation, planning, fund-raising, promotion, management, provision of staff & volunteers, and publicity for the Anne Frank + You exhibition. As part of a wider programme of events called Think:Swindon, this moving exhibition, centred around a mock up of the attic where Anne was hidden, was one of the first major travelling exhibitions to come to the town. The exhibition, crucially, reached many local school students via arts education organisation, ARTSMAD, and was delivered through sponsorship from NATIONWIDE and RWE NPOWER, both of which have their headquarters locally.

The Power of the Word

Writing/editing for numerous publications: books, journals, newsletters, marketing documents etc., as well as strategies, scoping studies, action plans, project plans, proposals, advocacy documents, funding applications, websites, letters and reports.


Roundabout Ten thoughts...

Research, writing, graphic design and illustration, print and publicity for a publication looking at Swindon's culture from a new perspective. Swindon does suffer from a bit of a poor image; this project was about advocating some ways to look at culture across ten different aspects of the town, and dispelling some of the myths. It was done in conjunction with the development of a cultural strategy in partnership with Swindon Borough Council (SBC).

Hitite Hitite

Concept, interface design, management and usability testing of a unique search system for heritage data, with ADLIB INFORMATION SYSTEMS and ENGLISH HERITAGE. This project, building on principles established in PastScape (see above), developed an idea that users could use images to help them identify monuments or building types. The system essentially used the 'twenty questions' notion, with selections from pictures depicting shape, colour, size etc., quickly narrowing down the options until the system could return a list of potential monument types that fitted the bill.

Open Studios Swindon Open Studios

Venue development, website design & build, brochure compilation, design, print and promotion. SOS has been going, on and off, for many years in the area, and a new group was slowly developing it once again. The main emphasis was to involve greater numbers of artists and visitors, and so five new town centre venues were established to enable clusters of artists to show off their work. With the enthusiasm of local painters, jewellers, sculptors etc., and a few dedicated individuals, SOS is now firmly established as a regular date in the calendar.

Giant Giants

Oh, and if you happen to need a giant....

The character on the left is Christopher, the third incarnation of Salisbury's famous processional giant, built with SALISBURY CIVIC SOCIETY and a few dedicated volunteers (including the Mayor!). The medieval original is in the city's museum. However, at a mere thirteen feet tall, he is dwarfed by his five metre tall cousin George, made especially for Swindon!