Image below shows the Easy Read programme for the first meeting of the purpleSTARS Advisory Group.
PurpleSTARS Advisory Group Session one Sept 1st
Sensory Objects co-researchers from the Tower Project agreed to become our purpleSTARS Advisory Group they will help us form the Sensory Objects Enterprise alongside business advice from EVOLVE Strategic Marketing Consultant Louise Moger.purpleSTARS Advisory Group:
purpleSTARS Advisory Group also met Becca Doggwiler who is collecting Impact of the Sensory Object project. Becca asked the group to help her design ways of collecting feedback to show the Impact of the project. The picture below shows Becca discussing feedback with the group and an online form they could tell us what they thought of the day.
Becca discussing feedback with the group
Online feedback questionnaire
The picture below shows the purpleSTARS Advisory Group SELFIE after the first session at RIX research & media.
In 2017 Sensory Objects were commissioned to make a box of sensory objects, workshop plans and log book to inspire and discover about art and biomedical science and to gain an Arts Award for Orleans House Gallery
The pictures below shows the ‘From the Outside In’ box the box has images of different parts of the body in cut out blackboard stickers.
Sensory Objects commission was to translate this work into a box of artworks that introduce art and science to children as part of their Key Stage 2 skills at school and to enable them to achieve an Arts Award. In the development/testing stage the artworks have been used in schools workshops including Meadlands School and so far 46 ArtsAwards have been awarded. The box will be launched by Orleans House Gallery in August/ September 2017.
Sensory Objects created a Arts Award log book and a set of workshop plans for facilitators.
ArtsAward Logbook front
Some of the objects such as the perspex head uses a sound sensor.
There is also a heart that pulses to be used in a workshop with 4 metronomes that can be altered to match the children’s heart beats.
Other works in the box include a felt stomach, put your hand inside the stomach and you can feel the Shibori felted interior made by Octagon and Transitions Group.
Inside Shibori Felt Stomach
Taking inspiration from Kingston-based photographer Eadweard Muybridge the Octagon and Transitions groups looked at making movements, animation and drawings. The group used double-headed stethoscopes to listen to each other’s heartbeats and drew the sounds they could hear.
The box contains a rolled chalk board with the outline of a person that children can draw on organs with chalk, and a plaster cast of vegetable/brain made by members of the Octagon and Transitions group. The picture below also shows a drawing from an ArtsAward Log Book inspired by making brain casts from vegetables.
ArtsAward Brain Drawing
The box also contains an imaginary creature called a Pegasaurus that is the starting point of a workshop where pegs are used to mark the spine, paper was rolled to make a spine, the box also contains a flexible medical spine.
The box contains a perspex hand inspired by the body as a machine, the picture below shows workshop to create a hand from straws, string and a plastic glove.
Hand Machine Perspex
Hand Machine Workshop Item
The images below show sheets that are in the box that introduces all the ‘From the Outside In’ artists.
Introduction to From the Outside In page one and two
Introduction to From the Outside In page three
The images below show the four projects that the Octagon Club and Transitions Art Group worked with the artists.
Image below shows Memory and Movement project sheet,
The picture below shows Mabel Coopers Medical Certificate from 1957.
Mabel Cooper Medical Cert
Picture below Access All Areas lead session for Museum and Heritage professionals.
Picture below Access All Areas lead session for Museum and Heritage professionals, Harvey Waterman told us he remembered being given big brown pills patients were sedated.
Picture below shows Access All Areas presenting.
Picture below shows comments about the exhibition.
Picture below shows close up of exhibition comment, it says “The exhibition itself is wonderful. I think it is really important that it tours beyond Hackney- there are similar stories everywhere and the themes are relevant to all of us. Excellent ‘Residents’ team of presenters.”
Sensory Objects and their co-researchers, students from Reading College LLD/D dept developed an Interactive Sensory Cow for The Museum of English Rural Life MERL. The idea of the cow is to be used during workshops to explore cows in alternative ways. The cow was commissioned by the Reading Arts Committee and the CLA Charitable Trust .
Last night Madhouse My House? opened at Hackney Museum. Co-researchers from Access All Areas presented their research and the ideas that Sensory Objects have developed with them to create a sensory interactive exhibition.
The group explained their ideas for the exhibition and told the story of Mabel Cooper and Harvey Waterman who has just celebrated his 80th birthday remembered what it was like to be in St Lawrence’s Hospital.
The exhibition is just the start of a series of events that will tell the story of the institutionalisation of people with learning disabilities.
Sensory Objects have been collaborating with Access All Areas is an award winning theatre company for adults with learning disabilities based in Hackney, London. We have created an interactive exhibition Madhouse, My House?that will open at Hackney Museum London this Thursday 2nd February 2017 – May 13th 2017 .
Below is an image of the Access All Areas Residents Group who researched and developed the exhibition with Sensory Objects during a visit to Hackney Museum.
Access All Areas Residents Group Researchers on visit to Hackney Muesum
Below is an image of the flyer.
Intro panel to the exhibition
Until the 1980s many people with learning disabilities were forced to live in hospitals for ‘idiots’, ‘imbeciles’ and the ‘feeble minded’. Explore life at St. Lawrence’s using the stories of two ex-patients: Harvey Waterman and Mabel Cooper.
This interactive exhibition was researched and created by members of Access All Areas, a Hackney-based theatre company that works with people with learning disabilities.
The exhibition is called ‘MADHOUSE myhouse?’ it is part of a 3 year digital creative learning programme that accompanies the ‘MADHOUSE re:exit’ production by Access All Areas’ Performance Company. The project explores the history of institutionalisation of people with learning disabilities. From long stay hospitals in 1913 right through to current treatment units.
Below are some pictures of the MadHouse My House Exhibition during installation.
TIMELINE BED History of St Lawrence House from Asylum then Hospital and finally demolition
TIMELINE PERSONAL STORIES of Harvey Waterman and Mabel Cooper
Mabel said the patients were made to wear bedroom slippers so they wouldn’t run away ‘NoEscapeSlippers’
RUFaRO with TOOTHER inspired by research that patients had to share a toothbrush
PILL BOTTLE WALL Harvey remembered being given big brown pills
Pills close Up
MadHouse Bin makes the sound of the Madhouse when you throw away a Mental Health Label saying Imbecile
Last night our Reading College LLD/D group did a fantastic job showcasing the cow at MERL’s Grand Opening Night. They have been practising over the last few weeks showing visitors how to record their own “MOO”.
Below are pictures of the cow before the guests arrived.
It was a very busy night opening night, the cow was in the MERL studio and we showcased the cow to many people. The Director of MERL Kate Arnold Forster mentioned our cow in her speech and it soon the cow recorded some excellent moo’s from the guests. There were so many people it was hard to hear after people had recorded it. Here is a clip from an earlier vist with guest leaving their moo.
Below are images from the opening night demoing the cow.
Exploring the Cow
ALL ABOUT MAKING THE COW
Below are images of our Reading College co-researchers and the cow.
In response to the sensory objects developed during the AHRC Sensory Objects project, working with Reading College LLD/D students at MERL during 2013-14, the need for interactive exhibits and farm animals was highlighted. Earlier prototypes developed resulted in the idea of creating an Interactive Sensory Cow for MERL as part of the major re-hang of the collection. Below is Rumena’s interactive chicken 2014.
Our group’s engagement was heightened when creating animal noises during their visit to MERL. The engagement made the collection more accessible and brought to life farms and that farm animals were central to a museum about farming.
The Sensory Cow has been developed as a workshop tool, it allows people to leave their own cow sounds, or any sound they wish, the sounds are recorded by continually pressing a button under the cows chin. Below is a picture of the record button under the cows chin.
cow record button
Our co-researchers practiced inviting the public to record their own sounds and how to stop and start the sounds.
The pictures below shows Steven and Charlotte recording sounds.
The recorded sounds are played back immediately after recording and can be stopped and started by pressing the milk bottle top switch on the cow’s rump.
Milk Bottletop Switch
The sounds collected can be added and removed via the cow’s own Raspberry Pi mini computer network which can be accessed by any computer or iPad joining the cow’s own network and easy to use interface the Moo Manager. The Moo Manger allows workshop facilitators to add their own sounds depending on their workshop subject and easy to delete unwanted sounds.
The cow stands on a grass wheeled base, this houses the Raspberry Pi and speakers and a smell machine with a fan that blows out smells. Working with our group we decided to use a pleasant smell that relates to produce of a cow, milk chocolate.
We had a talk from Adam an MA student who lives on a farm, he told us some facts about living on a farm with cows. He also mentioned that we needed to add thick eye lashes to the cow.
With our co-researchers we developed workshop materials to be used with the cow. The cow has magnets placed inside it so that various items could be attached to it. We explored items that are produced by the cow, leather and suede patches, milk cartons, milk drinks, beefburgers suggested by the group. The cow has items that attach to it like a type of fridge magnet. We think the cow could be used to facilitate workshops with people of all ages and abilities.
We explored creating stories about fantasy cows or cows based on Greek mythology, as this was part of Reading College LLD/D Dept set studies this term. The group are studying the myth of the Minotaur towards a performance at the end of term. We explored role playing the Minotaur stories and presenting the cow to the public. Below are some of the imaginative ideas of storytelling based on the cow fantasies, inventions and the myth of the Minotaur.
Kia ora (a traditional Māori greeting), my name is Natasha Barrett and I’m Museum Studies PhD student from the University of Leicester (AHRC Midlands 3 Cities funded). My research is about colonial-era photographs (1860s-1914) of Māori, the indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand. I have been discovering how these photographs have been understood and used over time by both Māori and non-Māori. This includes within and outside of British museums. I approach photographs as three-dimensional physical objects. They can as my research shows, reflect social connections amongst communities and with institutions around the world holding photographic collections.
A few months ago, as part of my PhD fieldwork, I met up with Dr Kate Allen at the British Museum. Despite our projects seeming quite dissimilar, there were many parallels, which were helpful for my research. For example, groups of people (and individuals) understand the world in very different ways and all are equally valid. The challenge for those of us working in museums is to try and understand this. We then need to create space for alternative ways of explaining objects. Sensory Labels fully and cleverly achieves this.
Kate gave me a tour around the Enlightenment Gallery with a few of the Sensory Labels. Having recently found out I am dyslexic, I was also personally interested to experience interpretation that does not use text. I was immediately struck by the wonder of the experience and sat with the labels on the gallery floor listening, smelling, touching, smiling and laughing. Through the labels I entered into the stories of the creators – the personal associations, meanings and memories that the objects in the gallery held for them. Each Sensory Label is highly unique, beautifully crafted and reflects the creator’s personality. By the end, I felt I had ‘virtually’ met a fascinating group of people who had enriched my experience of the gallery.
The author listening to Ryan Burns’ Sensory Label, 2016. Photograph courtesy of Dr Kate Allen.
Ryan Burns Sensory Label laser cut photo
Ryan Burns’ Sensory Label showing his laser cut photograph, 2016. Photograph by Natasha Barrett.
The labels, many of which include miniature versions of the displayed objects, emphasise the sense of touch. Usually in galleries you can only imagine what touching the objects behind glass might be like. Sam Walker’s use of a real shell and Judith Appiah’s carefully crafted Nigerian slipper let you experience the feel of the objects – their texture, shape and smell. Far from being just interpretative devices, Sensory Labels are also fascinating objects in their own right. Not only did they hold my attention but they drew in other people in the gallery, including one of the museum guides. We had a fascinating discussion about snakes in the Hindu religion, as a result of Katy Woollard’s snake themed label. This is, as Kate and I discussed, the power of the Sensory Labels. They create opportunities for conversations and let people share knowledge and diverse perspectives.
Sam Walker’s sensory label shell
Sam Walker’s Sensory Label with shell on/off switch, 2016. Photograph by Natasha Barrett.
Afterwards Kate and I meet with George Oates from Museum in a Box. I had noticed the similarities between the projects and was intrigued to discuss this further. Both use box formats and readily available low-tech electronics systems. These are easy to use and focus on the non-visual senses (e.g. touch and sound). They encourage people to interact or do something with the objects to make something else happen. Might these devices offer an alternative way of interpreting photographs? Far from being just pictures, we interact with photographs using our emotions and senses. Just think about the photographs in your own house, particularly those of your loved ones. What do they mean to you, and how you display and interact with them? They might make us laugh and cry, and beyond just looking, we touch and respond to photographs in a variety of ways. However this is not how photographs are usually interpreted and displayed in museums. Instead photographs are simply used as images to illustrate historical events and show what people looked like (a form of visual evidence).
Although Sensory Labels and Museum in a Box are not currently being used to interpret photographs, I can see great potential for this. For example, the laser cut photographs of the creators on the Sensory Labels suggests the way we tend to touch photographs. Touch is important in Māori culture and this technology creates a way of experiencing photographs through the fingertips. Sound is also significant for Māori and with both systems photographs could be used to activate the sound of Māori elders talking. This would give them the opportunity to talk about their ancestors, cultural treasures (known as taonga) and the places shown in the photographs. Themed packs of photographs could also be put together and used as George noted, as a way of ‘returning’ photographs (and the knowledge they hold) of people, places and cultural objects to their communities.
sensory labels and museum in a box
Museum in a Box (foreground) and Sensory Labels (background), 2016. Photograph by Natasha Barrett.
Experiences in museum still tend to rely on looking at and seeing objects. Opportunities for using our other senses, especially with photographs, are still not common. Also, whilst the voices of ordinary people are now heard in museums, these are still often shaped by institutions. Both Sensory Labels and Museum in a Box give people the freedom to express things in their own way. Using low cost systems, they place the power of object interpretation outside of the museum. However, these systems are flexible and can also used within museums. I look forward to seeing how these projects develop in the future!
Natasha introduced me to George Oates from Museum in a Box we found we had lots of things in common creating sensory experiences for museums.
Museum in a Box1
I brought some Sensory Labels made by our co-researchers from the Tower Project to the Enlightenment Gallery, for Natasha to try, Ryan Burns Chinese plate inspired label was a particular favourite. Below are images from Ryan’s Wiki Pages developing his label and sharing it with the public. There is also a video of Ryan’s Sensory Label in action so you can hear what everyone was listening to in the pictures. The smell Ryan chose was a floral perfume that reminded him of his Nan. Ryan’s drawing and his photograph was laser etched into the surface of the label.
Here are pictures from Ryan’s Wiki showing the development of his sensory label as documented by him. The plate Ryan made from air hardening clay as his response to the ones in the Enlightenment Gallery, broke. This gave Ryan the idea to have the sound of breaking ceramics on his sound track, he also found some Chinese Opera to add to his soundscape.
Judith with support work Reshma and Kate went to the Polar Museum in Cambridge to present the Sensory Object research project to SHARE East Working with Different Audiences. We co-presented the research, Judith did an excellent job describing her Sensory Label for the Enlightenment Gallery at the British Museum and how we use the five senses in our workshops. The organiser Katrina Siliprandi commented after
“Thank you so much for your input to today’s programme. It was brilliant for the group to hear about the work you have been doing and presented so clearly and interestingly. Thank you so much for arranging for Judith to also contribute to the presentation. I think the work you are doing is wonderfully innovative and exciting and clearly so valuable for the project members.”
We were also given a fascinating tour of the Polar Museum after the seminar.
Entrance to the Polar Museum Cambridge
Judith demos how a bend sensor activates her sound in her Sensory Label made for the Enlightenment Gallery at the British Museum
Working with Different Audiences Programme
10.05 Speaker: Naomi Chapman, Polar Museum “Building up different audiences at the Polar Museum.”
Naomi from the Education and Outreach team will talk through some of the ways that the Polar Museum have worked to increase the diversity of their audiences.
10.35 Speaker: John Lanagan, CEO, Museum of East Anglian Life “A Prescription for Living” – Improving health and well being through inclusion and participation.
The workshop will provide an overview of the programmes the Museum of East Anglian Life has developed for supported volunteering and adult skills development for people with learning and physical disabilities, mental health issues and otherwise disadvantaged backgrounds. In interactive sessions delegates will have the opportunity to explore the motivation for working with diverse groups, what unique opportunities their organisation can offer and some of the practicalities of delivery.
11.30 Speaker: Isabel Craig, The Norris Museum “Spuds, Spam and Stirrup Pumps”
12.00 A brief tour of the Polar Museum with Naomi Chapman, thinking about how the various spaces and display might work with different audiences.
12.30-1.15 Lunch, including tea and coffee
1.15 Speaker: Gill Brailey, Heritage Learning Manager, Lancashire County Council Cultural Services “Creating an Autism Friendly Museum”, a case study in discovering a range of resources and strategies to support museum visits
2.00 Speaker: Judith Appiah, Sensory Objects Co-Researcher from the Tower Project and Dr Kate Allen, Associate Professor in Art, Department of Art, University of Reading “Sensory Objects”
This programme is about the co-creation of multi-sensory interactive art works that respond to museum collections, to generate alternative ideas for museum interpretation, developed through art and electronics-based workshops by people with learning disabilities in collaboration with an interdisciplinary research team.
Over the last three years researchers from the University of Reading and RIX Research and Media at the University of East London have collaborated with people with learning disabilities from the Tower Project London exploring collections in The Enlightenment Gallery at The British Museum where they created Sensory Labels.
They worked with Reading College students from the Learners with Learning Difficulties /Disabilities Dept exploring the University of Reading’s Museum of English Rural Life (MERL) where they created interactive farm animal prototypes which they are currently developing into more robust versions of the original ideas for the re-hang of MERL.
They also worked with Mencap Liverpool Access to Heritage at the National Trust’s Speke Hall where they have made Sensory Story boxes. Sensory Objects was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council 2012-15 and are currently applying for further funding to create a more sustainable enterprise for people with Learning Disabilities to work within museums and heritage sites.
2.45 Speaker: Jeremy Kimmel, Audience Development Officer, Tunbridge Wells Museum and Art Gallery “Using Partnerships to Unlock New Audiences”
Jeremy will talk about how partnerships have allowed Tunbridge Wells Museum and Art Gallery to work with different audiences and develop the Dementia Toolkit
Ajay Choksi Wiki Master from RIX research and media and Kate presented a Sensory Objects poster at Engage 2015-Engaging with Impact in Bristol at the Royal Marriott Hotel We also introduced ArtLab which is a project that has grown out of the Sensory Objects Research. ArtLab promotes Widening Participation and Research projects at the University of Reading. The text below is from the Engage Programme about the poster party event.
“Engage enthusiasts will be pleased to know we are hosting the fabulous Poster Party with over 30 people and teams keen to share their work with great ideas for developing more effective engagement, celebrate and network in style with nibbles and drinks – encouraging constructive and inspiring conversations from across the world.” The picture below shows the poster with Adalana showing her Sensory Label at the British Musuem, we also demonstrated some of the Sensory Labels, this was before they turned on the party lights!
Poster Party Presentation
There were lots of people Ajay did a great job explaining about the project, demoing the Sensory Labels and showing the project Wikis. The pictures below show Ajay at work talking about Sensory Objects during the ENGAGE 2015 Poster Party, with some pink/purple lighting.
We have been given a small grant by the University of Reading Arts Committee to create one of our ideas of an interactive farm animal generated by our work with Reading College Learners with learning difficulties and disabilities dept at MERL in 2014.
Buckets Baskets And Boots Flyer
The proposal builds on Sensory Objects research to create an interactive farm animal experience ready for the opening of MERL in late 2016. The interactive experience (in the form of a full size interactive farm animal) will be created through a series of workshops at MERL run by Sensory Objects during 2016 in collaboration with students and Sensory Objects Co-reseaerchers. The workshops will explore the life of farm animals through all the senses employing stories, sound effects, and tactile materials to develop an interactive cow. The exhibit will encourage an inclusive accessible experience for visitors to MERL.
We propose to modify a cow bought from Jolly Roger model company by installing technology, which allows interaction for the visitor.
Some of our ideas for interaction include:
Stroking the cow will trigger sounds, smells and provide a tactile experience.
A recording mechanism in the animal’s ear so that when the audience squeezes the ear they will be able to leave a recording of their version of the animals sound.
Recorded sounds could be randomize and include audience created animal noises of moos etc and pre-recorded sounds.
Patting the back of the cow will trigger its tail to swish and activate a smell of Farmyard/Manure.
We featured in an article by French journalist Clara Crochet-Damais which documented the award ceremony in Paris where we were awarded the International Access for All Design Trophy 2015 on the website FranceTVinfo
FranceTVinfoPage report on Design for All Foundation Award
Summer 2015 Zena Hussein an Intern from UEL worked on data analysis from the Sensory Objects Project. Karl and Barbara Baeck from a tempo, a support network for people with disabilities to access employment, in Graz Austria, Karl and Barbara were funded by the European Union to study the Sensory Objects project. They intend to translate the Sensory Expeditions Activity book into German. The picture below shows Karl with Marc on an earlier visit to the project.
Karl with Marc from ‘atempo’ Graz.
Sensory Objects were invited by Becki Morris to contribute to a new webpage Disability Cooperative Network the aim of the network is to share knowledge to break down barriers for disability in the cultural sector
Our Co-researchers from Tower Project ‘Sensory Labels of the Enlightenment Gallery’ was such a hit earlier in the year we were invited back by The British Museum as a half term activity. The museum was packed with visitors, Tower Project did an excellent job engaging old and young with their work and we had a brilliant response from the public. Below are some pictures from the day.
Group around table
Listening to Judiths box
Justin in group
Kelly demos her label
Sam demos Label
smelling Justin’s label
We also showed off our Design for All Foundation Award Trophy and Certificate that were were awarded at a ceremony in Paris in Jan 2015 for our Co-researchers from Tower Project Sensory Labels at The British Museum. It was the first time all the group had seen the Trophy and Certificate. Below are the Tower Project with their Sensory Labels, Trophy and Certificate in The British Museums Great Court.
Tower with Trophy and Cert
The images below show closeups of the Design for All Foundation Award Trophy and Certificate 2015.
On Wed 29th April Sensory Objects co-researchers from Tower Project presented a well attended master class and demo during the Museum and Heritage show at Olympia London. UEL had a stand where we displayed some of our Sensory Objects including some made by our co-researchers from Reading College Learners with Learning Difficulties/Disabilities dept at the Museum of English Rural Life including our yellow jiggling and grunting pig.
John with Rachel’s yellow pig
The pig was very effective at catching peoples attention during the show, we also showed the sheep cushion that goes ‘baa’ when stroked.
During the talk co-researchers from the Tower Project Judith Appiah and Tim Elson showed the audience their Sensory Labels for the Enlightenment Museum at The British Museum.
Tim showing his sensory label
Tim and Judith described the workshop process and how they developed sensory information and shared their work with the public at the British Museum. Throughout the day many people came over to the stand to discuss ideas about how to make museums more sensory and inclusive.
Sensory Objects at Museums & Heritage Show
We also took some photos of Tim, Judith and Kate with our recently awarded International Design For All Trophy 2015. We return for another Sensory Labels showcase in the Enlightenment Gallery at the British Museum on Thursday 28th May 2015.
The 6th edition of the International Design for All Foundation Good Practices Awards recognise achievements in the field of design for all, great and small, by governments, businesses, not-for-profit organisations and professionals from all over the world. In so doing, they aim to demonstrate that the implementation of design for all/universal design in any form contributes towards improving quality of life for everyone.
At the Design for All Foundation we believe that our awards should not be a competition, but that we should recognise all examples of good practice which arise from identifying a need or problem and satisfying user requirements and expectations. Hence from this edition onwards we will honour all “Good Practices” which meet the criteria for excellence.
However, each year an international jury will select the 5 “Best Practices” out of all the Good Practices submitted to be presented with the International Design for All Foundation Award. These will be the examples which stand out in terms of their impact and which indicate the way ahead for better implementation of design for all/universal design.
Below is the easy read programme of our very successful Seminar at The British Museum. You can see a report of the Seminar on our Co-researchers Wiki
Seminar BRITISH MUSEUM 25th FEB Programme 1&2
Microsoft Word – Seminar BRITISH MUSEUM 25th FEB Programme
The picture below shows an image from our Co-researchers Wiki documenting Angela from Access to Heritage giving the first presentation of the Seminar about the Sensory Objects at Speke Hall.
Wiki Angela presents
The picture below shows Angela showing her scrap book to delegates.
Angela showing her scrap book
Next was a presentation from year two of the Sensory Objects Project at the Museum of English Rural Life (MERL) with Co-researchers from Reading College Learners with Learning Difficulties and Disabilities. The talk included a video featuring the Director of MERL talking about the influence of Sensory Objects project on the redesign of MERL
Impact of Sensory Objects by Kate Arnold Forster Director of MERL
I just wanted to mention a couple of small examples of how we are beginning to take forward the Sensory Objects work into the new interpretation plans for MERL We are currently working on developing the ideas for the interactive in the new galleries and has already a couple where the Reading College project has definitely informed our thinking. Both are quite simple, but you can probably see how they link back to your project. We are developing a gallery called the Wagon Walk – a space where we will bring together all of our farm wagons and aim to interpret them in multiple ways. However, one important facet to the different designs for farm wagons is the relationship between different regional types of wagon and topography. Wagons designed for mainly flat terrain are different to those for hilly areas of areas with narrow winding lanes, for example. So we are going to create a 3D map of the landscape that visitors can touch and explore as a way of understanding about landscape and topography. The other example is that we will be creating a model farm that visitors can explore and interact with, but it will include smells and noises (not sure quite how yet) but that is the plan.
At a slightly different level we have now undertaken a piece of work to develop new approaches to tactile access to our collections as it is clear that as a result of Sensory Objects and other audience feedback our visitors are keen to handle and interact with real objects as part of their visitor experience. We have developed a scheme to enable us to make more collections available for handling and so that it is acceptable to curators, conservators as well as our audiences. This is an area of wider interest within the museums community and we are sharing this work with a training seminar next month (funded by ACE) and there is interest from the Collections Trust in incorporating this new protocol into the next round of SPECTRUM – the museums standard for collections care (so a piece of impact of policy and practice).
The next presentation in the picture below was by Co-researchers Tim, Judith and Sam from the Tower Project. They explained the process of developing Sensory Labels for the Enlightenment Gallery at The British Museum.
Judith presenting with us in background
The picture below shows Sam and her first Sensory Postcard.
Smiling Sam with shell card
The picture below shows Tim talking about his drawing of a plane that he wanted to be engraved in wood. His idea inspired everyone to have their drawings laser cut into wood.
Then the co-researechers invited all the delegates to try their sensory labels during lunch.
WIKI All show the Labels
Julie with group listening to her box
Adjoa showing Sarah her Sensory Label
After lunch Ajay gave a presentation from his diary about the project including our Pop Up Musuem
Next Kelly, Ryan and Justin co-presented with Andy about using Wikis to help reflect and develop their research ideas.
Judith Reports on the Seminar
Andy with Ryan presenting
Justins Wiki diary
After Justin’s presentation Nic showed some of the electronics called Arduinos used inside the sensory objects to trigger sounds he also showed some of the workshop kit we have used during the project.
Nic with Arduino
Nic also demonstrated two cushions that make noise when you stroke them.
Nic with sensory cushions
Tweet of creature in cup workshop
Nic and Kassie then invited the delegates to try littlebits. The challenge was to create a creature in a cup.
littlebits BM seminar creature in a cup
Making a creature in a cup littlebits
Everyone had a go making a creature in a cup, then finally Andy led a discussion reflecting on the project and the Sensory Activities Guide.
Sensory Objects co-researchers from The Tower Project created a set of 12 labels you could look at touch, listen to and smell based on objects in the Enlightenment Gallery . These Sensory Labels were then enthusiastically and confidently presented to the public by our co-researchers during 2015. Each Sensory Label was created as an alternative piece of interpretation for an object chosen by our co-researchers thinking about sensory information.
This work was awarded the Design For All Foundation Award Trophy in 2015
The picture below shows the 12 Sensory Objects Co-researchers from the Tower Project and supporters during one of the sessions.
Group shot of Sensory Object Researchers
The response was fantastic with many positive reactions expressed to us, collected on feedback forms, recordings, written on twitter. We were invited to present the Sensory Labels during half term.
The picture below shows Sam showing Chalkwell School the Sensory Labels.
Lots of Tweets document the day
During the day colleagues from RIX research created a live wiki page and filmed to make us a video of the event and seminar. The picture below shows Andy and Sam updating the Wiki.
Andy and Sam wiki and shells
The picture below shows a screen grab of Kelly and Adalana’s wiki diary entries for the Showcase you can read more diaries and our co researchers thoughts on our co-researchers wiki
Kelly’s Diary of the showcse day
Adalana diary of Showcase Day
Many of Orson Nava’s great photos captured the day for us, the picture below shows Adalana showing her Sensory Label to a museum visitor, he was smelling a lovely perfume, listening to the sound of crystals and diamonds. Adalana discovered that the diamond she had chosen had been removed from the Enlightenment Collection but her Sensory Label gave people an idea of the missing diamond.
Adalana shows her Sensory Label to visitor
The picture below show the texture of Ashley’s label being felt. Ashley chose a stuffed Golden Pheasent as his object. He had sounds of the bird call which were very effective and loud, his smell was oranges.
Ashley shows Kassie his Sensory Label
The Sensory Labels were enjoyed by all ages, the picture below shows shows Sam demonstrating her Sensory Label of a shell that reminded Sam of her mum living by the sea.
Sam demos sensory labels
Picture below shows feeling the texture of Sam’s Sensory Label, the smell was a smell of seaside.
Sam demos sensory Label
Picture below shows Judith with school group trying her Sensory Label of a leather African slipper. Sounds are triggered by bending a leather slipper she had made with a bend sensor embedded in the sole. The smell of the Sensory Label was leather.
Judith shows school group
The picture below shows listening to Kelly’s Sensory Label telling the story of the statue of Paris. There were sounds of fighting, rain and the smell was aftershave.
More listening to Kellys box
The two pictures below shows visitors with Ryan and his Sensory Label about two Chinese plates that reminded him of his nan. The box smell was roses and the sounds were smashing plates and Chinese opera.
Ryan demos sensory labels
Listening to Ryans Sesnory Label
Pictures below show Tim demonstrating his Sensory Label based on a miniature Egyptian Mummy. Tim’s label has sounds of Egyptian music, camels and the safety instructions given by air stewards at the start of a flight. Tim had drawn a plane for his label as it reminded him of going to visit Egypt on a plane. Tim’s box smell was Egyptian perfume.
Tim showing his sensory label
Listening Tim’s Sensory Label
The picture below shows Michael showing his Sensory Label based on a large bowl that he researched an found out it was a wine cooler. Michel imagined eating Chicken and Chips in this giant bowl. His label smell was Vinegar and the sounds were of eating, slurping, frying and cereal being poured into a bowl.
Michael demos his sensory label
The picture below shows a visitor smelling the smell of beer and cheese and onion crisps, as Justin described it the “smell of success” in his Sensory Label. The picture below also shows the Warwick Vase, Justin’s chosen object, which reminded him of the FA cup and his love of Liverpool Football team. The sound for his label was a montage of football commentaries about Liverpool.
Justin’s Sensory Label
The picture below shows Justin’s Sensory Label proving a hit with a visitor.
Justins box a Hit
The picture below shows a visitor listening to another football fan, Julie chose a Heron from the collection because it reminded her of the Tottenham Hotspur Football cockerel logo. The sound track included the sound of a Blue Heron fishing in a lake, Julie making a tweet sound and singing with the Tottenham Hotspur team song. Julie’s Sensory Label smell was fish! which was a bit of a surprise for many.
Julie and her Sensory Label
The picture below shows a visitor smelling the sea in Adjoa’s Sensory Label. Adjoa chose a coral because she likes the sea. The sounds Adjoa chose were the sea and Handel’s Water Music.
Smelling Adojas Label
The pictures below show Katy’s sensory label, Katy’s object was a snake. Katy wanted her label to have a snake being charmed out of it’s basket, the sound is snake charming music and she wanted the smell of grass. The label has a light sensor embedded so when you open the lid the light triggers the snake to move slowly up. The light levels in the Enlightenment Gallery proved just too low for the sensor to work so we used a torch, which proved to create great engagement for the visitor.
Katy and her Sensory Label
Katy and Mark charm the snake
A charming the snake
Katy’s snake being charmed with light from a torch
The picture below shows the phone sound box containing all 12 co-researcher sounds, the smell is Cadbury’s Chocolate the smell chosen to celebrate Sir Hans Sloane and his addition of milk to Drinking Chocolate.
The collected sounds phone box
Matt and Andy try phone box
Listening to sounds on phone
The picture below shows Julie and Michael discussing their labels with Jane Samuels at the time the The British Museums Access and Equality Manager.
In the writing of Walter Benjamin, we find the concept of the ‘aura’, a special distancing or abstraction certain objects have. He describes it as ”the unique phenomenon of a distance, however close it may be”, going on to explain ”If, while resting on a summer afternoon, you follow with your eyes a mountain range on the horizon or a branch which casts its shadow over you, you experience the aura of those mountains, of that branch.” It is a remoteness, an eery foreignness. Benjamin was, of course, dealing with the photograph; pictures may also have a punctic effect, to use Barthes‘ term, wounding the viewer in a way he cannot quite articulate. That which is special to some appears ordinary to others, and thus to some have an aura.
It is this disconnect in perception that interests us. For a person with learning difficulties, an object may have a value or significance others cannot fathom. The person cannot say why the object is significant, and this causes a difference in perception we might call a type of aura. The person to whom the object is significant may see the tree, yet can only tell others of the shadow. It is through these objects, whose significance may be hidden from us, that we are left to reconstruct the discourse of learning disability history. Inasmuch as it is, in part, shrouded from us because it cannot be articulated as it usually would be, it is an auric discourse. We who observe from without are distanced from it, yet are fascinated to explore this mysterious terrain.
In effect these objects have a contingent: an extra specialness or relevance that the owner cannot articulate. This may explain their fixation. This is not a fetishisation in the usual sense, where an object or detail is fixated upon for unconscious reasons which go beyond articulation and can only be explored through psychoanalysis; the persons inability to explain his or her attraction is due to other factors, yet the result is exactly the same. In both cases, the reasons behind the attraction cannot be rendered in the symbolic.
You can read more of Matts writing on his blog HERE. The picture below shows Matt experiencing Sam’s Sensory Label during the Sensory Objects Showcase at The British Museum.
The picture below shows the Easy Read programme for session sixteen.
Tower Project Session SIXTEEN
The picture below shows our co-researchers adding smells to their Sensory Labels.
Group at work putting smells in Sensory Labels
Then they practiced showing the Sensory Labels to the public, Luke the RIX new intern from Pennsylvania agreed to be our audience as he knew little about the project. He soon found out about everyones object and label! The picture below show Kelly show Luke her Sensory Label based on the statue of Paris in the Enlightenment Gallery.
Kelly demos her Sensory Label
The picture below shows Ryan demoing his Sensory Label.
Ryan demos label
The picture below shows Michael showing Lukc his Sensory Label.
Michaels sensory label
The picture below shows Justin demonstrating his Sensory Label
Justin and Sensory Label
The picture below shows Judith trying the Phone box that contains all the sound tracks of the Tower Group
Judith with here sensory label trying the joint sound box
Members of the Sensory Objects research projectinvite you to try out their newly developed interactive Sensory Labels of selected objects in the Enlightenment Gallery at The British Museum on Wednesday 11th February in The Enlightenment Gallery 11am – 3pm.
These Sensory Labels have been co-developed by people with learning difficulties and disabilities from the Tower Project London, working as co-researchers; they form part of an interdisciplinary team from The University of Reading and RIX Research and Media at the University of East London.
The Sensory Objects project creates multisensory interactive artworks that respond to museum collections and generate alternative ideas for museum interpretation. The image below is a poster containing this text, advertising the event.
POSTER TOWER PROJECT SHOWCASE EVENT
The image below is the easy read programme for the Showcase Event Day.
The Sandpit day was organised to combine showcasing of work with and by people with Learning Disabilities with interactive demonstrations and activities designed to get discussion and debate going about what a Living Archive of Learning Disability History should be like. Find out more about the research project here
Sam sounds from her Sensory Label
Feeling Tims Sensory Label image of plane
Sensory Objects Co-researchers from the Tower Project were invited to host a Sensory Objects room. Judith, Sam and Tim represented the Tower project demonstrating sensory objects from the 3 years of the Sensory Objects project, including their newly developed Sensory Labels. Katy’s Sensory Label was also shown. Our Co-researchers also demoed littlebits used in workshops to understand triggers.
Tim explains littlebits
Sniffing Katy’s snake in grass box
Sam and her box
Sensory Objects Sandpit with Harry
From the Sandpit day we learnt about the importance of creating an archive of Learning Disability History. Of importance to the Sensory Objects project was the desire by people in discussion that the physical quality of the Living Archive needs to be preserved. People were keen that the archive took various forms so that it would be accessible for everyone, from a digital archive to some kind of physical sensory archive.
We met to discuss the progress of our Sensory Labels, John who runs the Tower Project came to the session.
Tower Project Discuss
First we had a report from the Engage Conference by Tim and Judith.
Judith and Tim report from the Engage Conference in Bristol
Nic discussed with the group the progress of the Sensory Label triggers.
Nic demos the progress of the Sensory Labels
We tested some aromas for the Sensory Labels smell compartment.
testing smells in the box
Noelle helped our Co-researchers record thoughts about their chosen objects for the Sensory Label soundscape.
Judith showed John from Tower Project her Sensory Label and we discussed how our Co-researchers could take part in some peer learning with others from the Tower Project holding their own sensory label workshop.
The Sensory Objects project was represented by co-researchers Judith Appiah and Tim Elson supported by Beverley Agard from the Tower Project, who co-presented with Nic and Kate at ENGAGE 2014 conference in Bristol. The picture below shows Judith and Tim preparing for the presentation with Beverley on the train to Bristol.
Preparatory Work on Train
We arrived just at the Bristol Marriot Royal Hotel just in time for lunch where we met up with Nic. The picture below shows all at lunch.
Lunch at conference
Our presentation was at 2pm we presented work from the three years of the project then had a hands-on workshop. The picture below shows Tim and Judith presenting.
Tim and Judith Present
We showed some of the work from MERL, Sian’s mooing boot and Rumena’s Chicken. Judith explained about her chosen object, a pair of leather slippers, African treasure and how she has made her sensory label. As we were presenting our audience were tweeting so some of the the images below show the tweeted response from the audience.
How Judith developed her sensory label
Judith invited people to try her sensory label.
Judith sensory label
Next Tim spoke about the development of his Sensory Label. He showed a slide of the miniature sarcophagus in the Enlightenment Gallery and explained using his wiki his research of the object and how he had drawn an aeroplane because it reminded him of flying to Eygpt.
Tweet of Tims presentation
Tweet of Tims plane
Tim invited the audience to try out his sensory label the picture below shows the audience tweet.
Tweet of Tim’s Box
We told the audience about some of the other ideas for Sensory Labels including Justin’s ideas for the Warwick Vase reminding him of the FA cup and that he wants the smell of his box to be the smell of Cheese and Onion crisps and Beer as he thinks of this as the smell of success! This made people laugh and a response on Twitter, where some people liked the idea of the smell one did not. The picture below shows the discussion.
Cheese and Onion Crisps and Beer
Then we moved on to the hands on workshop part of the presentation we invited the audience to tryout some of the tools we have used in our workshops to help understand triggers, controlling sounds with sensors. We demonstrated Squishy Circuits, littleBits, sound boxes and littleBits go Large.
LittleBits go LARGE demo
The picture below shows a tweet during the demos of little bits go LARGE.
Tweet Enjoying handson workshop
Tim and Judith sat at a table each and demonstrated how little bits and little bits go LARGE work while Nic explained more about the research ideas behind the workshop. The pictures below show everyone during the hands on workshop.
Workshop with bits
TIm during littleBits workhsop
TIm demos littleBits
Judith and Nic demo little Bits go LARGE
After the workshop we went listen to a presentation by Mohit Bakaya a commissioning editor for BBC Radio 4. He spoke about the need to widen the types of people presenting programmes to widen the audience who listen to Radio 4. We wondered if he would commission Sensory Object to make a programme?
Listening to Mohit Bakaya from Radio 4
Listening at the Conference
We found the conference a really valuable experience, we learnt a lot and found the audience in our presentation were really ‘engaged’ asking lots of interesting questions and were keen to find out more about the Sensory Objects project, discuss new ideas and opportunities. The picture below shows Tim, Judith and Bev about to leave the conference hotel.
The picture below shows the easy read programme for session fourteen.
Tower Project FOURTEEN
First we looked at Tower Project Wikis. Our co-researchers have been busy researching information about their object in the Enlightenment Gallery at The British Musuem. The picture below shows the group looking at their Wiki.
Group look at wiki research pages
Each co-researcher had prepared something to say about their object ready to record for the soundtrack of their sensory label.
Tims wiki text to record
The picture below shows recording each co-researcher.
Recording info about objects
The picture below shows Nic demonstrating the latest version of the sensory label. This one had an engraved image of Sam on it.
Nic shows latest version of sensory labels
The picture below shows Sam feeling her engraved wood drawing with her eyes closed.
The picture below shows everyone looking at the smell container inside the label box.
Group discussing boxes
The picture below shows Sam with the seaweed Noelle brought in from Brighten. Everyone smelt the seaweed it smelt very strong!
Sam with Seaweed
Some of the group still needed to decide how their sounds would be triggered. The picture below shows Adalana trying out different switches to trigger her sound. We are also looking for some more sounds for Adalana as the Music Box sound we have sounded too much like an Ice Cream Van!
Adalana Sensory Postcard
Kelly and Judith are shown in the picture below researching triggers with littleBits.
Below is the easy read programme for session thirteen.
TOWER PROJECT 13
We had a catch up meeting. We heard about the Tower Project creating and being on a float of the Lord Mayors Show, the picture below shows the group looking at BBC video footage of the event.
Group watch video of the Lord Mayors Show
Then we discussed our our co-presentation at the Diversity in Heritage Meeting where Judith and Tim co-presented our research with Nic and Kate. The picture below shows the group looking at a Mercury Bulb on display in the Cinema Museum.
Talking about Cinema Museum
Then we looked at the co-researchers Wikis they had been very busy researching their chosen objects at the Enlightenment Gallery and adding to their Wiki in the Research Section. The pictures below shows some images of the Wiki research pages, Michael researched about the bowl he chose which he found it very difficult to find any information about. He imagined eating chicken and chips in the bowl. Julies research explained that she chose a stuffed Heron from the collection as it reminded her of the symbol for Tottenham Hotspur! The picture below shows Julies football shirt.
Why Julie chose a Heron
Then we discussed developing the sensory labels further feeling the wood panels in the picture below.
feeling surface of sensory labels
Tim demoed his box the sound was triggered by tilting the box or by a touch sensor.
Tim demos his box
We discussed how everyone would like to trigger sounds. The picture below show Adjoa exploring how to trigger sound.
Hearing sound from the box
Adjoa tests box
We also tried out some other smells
More smells to test
Nic and Kassie worked with Tim, Michael, Sam and Katy to research various types of triggers the pictures below show Tim and Michael at work and a close up of a set of triggers Nic had made to help discover and chose how things should trigger.
We co-presented our research with Judith and Tim representing the Tower Project with their support worker Bev, Kate and Nic also presented and Kassie filmed and helped with the hands on workshop part of the session. The picture below shows Tim and Judith preparing for the meeting with Bev and Kassie.
Judith and Tim prepare
The pictures below show members of the Diversity in Heritage Meeting and Poppy who was leading the meeting.
Poppy and members of the H&D group
Members of the Heritage and Diversity Group
Before the meeting we were given a tour of the Cinema Museum the picture below shows members of the meeting during the tour.
Tour Cinema Museum
During Guided Tour of the Cinema Museum
The picture below shows members of the sensory objects team presenting our research.
Presentation by Sensory Objects
The video below has some edited highlights from our presentation
Below is the updated version of the easy read programme from Session 12. I have changed the dates at the end so the next session has the correct date when we will have our next session on the 12th November at the RIX.
Tower Project Session TWELEVE
This session we explored smells that we could use inside our sensory label boxes. Working from the list the co-researchers had made last week
List of smells
here are ideas for smells so far Tim: Incense or some essential oil of Frankincense, Judith: Leather, Julie:Fish, Justin: Cheese and Onion Crisps and Beer, Michael; Chicken Stock Cube, this wasn’t quite right as Michael was imagining fried chicken, so we will try vinegar, Ryan: Flowers, Kelly: Aftershave, Katy: Hay and grass, Ashley: Oranges Debbie suggested Orange soap might be good, Adalana: Still not sure, we suggested perfume? Sam and Adjoa: Seaweed which we hope Noelle will bring from Brighten. We discussed ideas for containing the smells in a small containers with some kind of lid that would slide or lift off so the smell could be controlled otherwise all the smells together made a very strange smell mix. The salt fish was the most pongy!
After smell we listened to some of the sounds for the boxes, Julie showed her Heron Sensory Label with her own sound see video below.
Everyone did some more work on their Sensory Labels.
Working on Sensory Labels
After lunch were started to take some photo of our co-researchers with artwork for their sensory labels. These images will be printed and put on one side of the wooden box. The video below shows Mark taking a group shot first.
After lunch and photos, the group met Poppy Szaybo who is Head of London Programmes, Diversity Heritage Group, and an Independent Consultant, Curator, Creative Practitioner. The group showed her their wiki site and this webpage to explain some of the research activities they have done as a co-researchers on the Sensory Objects Project.
We did not follow the plan completely as we were visited by some people from the University of East London’s publicity department, they had heard about the Sensory Objects project and wanted to feature it on some of the University publicity. They interviewed some of our co-researchers, filmed and photographed our session see picture below.
We discussed our visit to The British Museum, using audio guides and making a map of our sensory labels. Most of our group enjoyed hearing the woman speaking on the audio guide although some found it hard to use. Our group enjoyed discovering where each others object was located and many had suggested ideas for the guide on the wiki website.
We realised that some of the drawing with thicker lines worked better so we asked for some of them to be drawn again. The picture below shows Ashley drawing his bird again, he drew a very good bird but we asked him to draw it again with a thinker pen, Sam is also shown drawing a shell.
Ashley and Sam draw pics
Nic showed the group a wooden version of the sensory label.
sensory object box
We continued to create sensory artwork for the labels, we discussed how to incorporate the objects we have been making into the labels. As our sensory labels give very personal interpretations of our chosen objects from the Enlightenment Gallery we discussed if it would be a good idea to have a photo of each Co-researcher on one side of the box and I suggested we could photograph each co-researcher with the sensory art work they have been making. The picture below shows a mockup of a box with Adjoa on onside holding her sensory art work about the coral she chose. Adjoa made the shape in clay imbedded with beeswax. On the other side would be Adjoa’s wood engraving. The box would make sounds of the sea and have the smell of the sea.
Adjoa with her sensory artwork on box
Julie and Judith feeling wood panel
Ryans box shows the two Chinese plates he had chosen. He imagines eating on them and one of them smashing.The picture below shows the broken plate he made from clay and buttons. He has also collected sounds of plates crashing and would like the smell of flowers to come from his sensory label box.
Here is the easy read programme for session ten at The British Museum.
Tower Project TEN Easy Read Programme
We tried out the Audio Tour of the Enlightenment Gallery at the British Museum. We did this research in response to some of our co-researchers idea to create an audio guide for the objects they had chosen. Below are images of the group using the Audio Tour.
Using Audio Guides
Listening to the Audio Tour
Our 12 objects chosen by our co-researchers were different from the 10 on the Audio Guide.
Using Audio Tour of Enlightenment Gallery
Our Co-researchers will reflect on their experiences in our next session. After lunch our co-researchers were given a sheet with images of the artwork they have made in response to their chosen objects. They had to recognise who’s work it was, what object is represented and draw a guide to where it could be found on a plan of the Enlightenment Gallery. Below in an image of the sheet.
Everyones Object in Enlightenment Gallery
The picture below shows Adalana, Justin, Michael and Tim working with the sheet and Judith showing off her completed sheet. The sheet was to help our co-researchers think about how we will guide the public to their sensory labels on our event day. Sam had mentioned she enjoyed trails and guides, often designed for children to discover museums, Sam said that people with learning difficulties would also enjoy this format if it was designed for adults.
Sensory Labels Hunt
Picture below shows some of the Sensory Objects research team waving in the Enlightenment Gallery, our group waving makes a good composition with the statue behind. Thanks to Adam photographer from the Tower Project for the picture.
Sensory Objects research team wave at British Museum
First we had a discussion about ideas for our event bringing sensory labels to the Enlightenment Gallery, we asked the group for their thoughts. There were many ideas including creating an audio guide of sensory soundscapes to link to chosen objects suggested by Judith and having a living statue which was Kelly’s idea when asked what conversation she would have with the statue she had chosen she said “somebody get me out of this museum I’ve been stuck in here for years!”. Sam wanted to create some kind of game where the goal is to discover the sensory labels in the gallery rather than have a guide map, she mentioned that there is often something like this for children but that people with learning disabilities would enjoy this too. Tim suggested we should have flags of the countries where the objects we have chosen come from to direct people to our sensory lables. Kate took notes of all the ideas and we will work on them over the next few weeks.
Discussion about sensory labels
Nic gave a demo of triggers, he explained that a sound or movement on our sensory labels, currently triggered by a black button, could be triggered by stroking, he used Sian from Reading College’s Moot Boot to demonstrate the idea. The picture below shows Ryan stroking the Moot it moos when the fake fur cow hide is stroked. Nic also demoed Rachel’s pig which was triggered by a proximity sensor so when the person stood in front of it the sound and movement of the pig was triggered.
Stroking the Moot
Nic also wanted to see if anyone remembered how some of the sensors worked from last week. He showed Adalana as she missed the last session.
Nic demos Trigger
The picture below shows Adjoa and Ryan demoing creating sounds with the littleBits synth kit.
Trying out Syth Kit
Tim showed his Egyptian hieroglyph to the group. He had drawn a picture inspired by his object a small wooden Egyptian sarcophagus. He wanted to draw a modern object a plane in the style of Egyptian hieroglyphs, he also wrote his name. We then took a photo of his drawing and engraved the image in wood using a laser cutter. The drawing surface now embossed could be felt and it also had the smell of burnt wood.
Tim’s plane engraved
We then worked more creating textures and sounds for our sensory labels. Adoja showed how she had used air hardening clay to create a model of the coral she has chosen she also added in some beeswax because it reminded her of the surface texture of the coral.
Adjoa with her model of coral
Katy, Ashley, Kelly and Ryan all made models with air hardening clay.
We also began to find sounds to build soundscapes for each object we will continue with this next week.
Below is the easy read programme for session seven.
Tower project Workshop SEVEN programme
We split into two groups, group A was Investigating littleBits go LARGE the video below shows some short clips of the investigation as we tried to find out how easy it was to understand the pink output devices were and if we could add something visual to aid understanding. Our UROP (Undergraduate research opportunity placement) student Kassie introduced the session, the clip shows the group trying a light sensor.
Group B began to explore further the idea of a Sensory Label exploring textures, smells and sounds.
Sensory Labels Workshop
Sensory Labels Workshop2
Tim had a go at about making his own Hieroglyphic’s inspired by the Egyptian mummy he chose. We discussed how we could use the laser cutter at the University of Reading to engrave it into wood. The picture below shows Tim’s drawing of a plane and name done in the style of Hieroglyphs.
Our session was held at The British Museum, their Access and Equality Manager, Jane Samuels, introduced us to Judy Joseph an ESOL tutor (English for Speakers of Other Languages).
Jane introduces Judy to the Tower Project
Judy picked out several objects from the Enlightenment Gallery, our Co-researchers really enjoyed the session and were able to concentrate really well.
Judy explained the history and geography of the objects and also added some sensory information including a sachet of drinking chocolate that Judy brought out when we looked at chocolate cups in the collection.
Chocolate cups from Sir Hans Sloane’s collection
Judy explained It was Sir Hans Sloane who introduced milk chocolate for drinking. He had drunk chocolate while working as a doctor in the West Indies, but found it ‘nauseous and hard of digestion’. So he made it taste nicer by boiling the beans with milk and sugar.
Judy also told us about Sir Hans Sloane’s medical specimen collection. Judy added sensory information including spices such as nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon bark and explained how they were used as medicine. For example Judy described how clove oil was used to help soothe toothache.
Judy Specimens and Spices
Judy also told us about a wooden shoe from India, Judy asked who would wear the shoe? It would be worn by someone rich who didn’t have to walk very far as it would be very difficult to walk in.
Judy showed us a replica of the Rosetta Stone, she asked the group if they could find a label saying you could touch the replica. The group found it under the stone it was quite hard to find, then we all touched the stone, some tapped the stone and we found the replica sounded hollow as it was made of fiberglass. We learnt about the languages on the stone, Greek, Demotic and Hieroglyphic and how the stone holds the key to understanding Egyptian hieroglyphs.
Touching Replica Rosetta
After lunch we went to look at the original Rosetta Stone in room 4 the picture below shows the stone in its glass case.
Group visit RosettaStoneOriginal
There were many people in the gallery looking at the stone, you could not touch this one.
After Judy’s tour our Co-researchers continued to gather information to create sensory labels for a chosen object in the Enlightenment Gallery. We had a new member of the group Ashley he chose a stuffed Rat.
Ashley chose a Rat
The picture below shows some of the objects the group has chosen, Sam continues to be interested in shells, Judith in the leather bag and sandals and I think Adelana looked at more rings.
We met at the Rix Centre after a break over August. Our Co-researchers did some independent research visiting the London Transport Museum trying out our Sensory Activities book.
Discussing Transport Museum Visit
We started our session with hearing about the visit looking at the updates on the wiki webpage updated by our co-researchers. Our Co-researchers really enjoyed their visit, they noted down some general access issues, to do with ramps and size of lifts etc. We discussed the need to focus on the sensory nature of our project. The group had picked out things that they enjoyed, such as having ago with a ticket machine that actually produced an old bus ticket, some mentioned music playing by some of the exhibits, and a handle to crank to help understand how wheels work on a bus.
We discussed the sensory activities book focussing on the Sensory Expeditions cartoon page. We had 2 new names of the book suggested by our co-researchers ‘Recipe Book or Index. Some people found the image of the camera misleading as it looked like a radio, the big nose on the smell cartoon was mistaken as Pinocchio, they asked why the cartoon had no eyes? Someone asked why there was a mouse in the picture?
After lunch we didn’t follow our planned programme, we introduced the sound boxes
and started to learn about electronics and triggering information with Squishy Circuits, we asked the group to create a trigger for a light and a buzzer by creating a circuit and breaking the circuit.
Working with Squishys
We also started to think about how we could add some sensory information to the enlightenment gallery. Everyone was given a postcard that could record a sound. We asked our co-researchers to think about what sounds, stories, tactile materials, images or even smells we could use to enhance our experiences of the chosen object from the Enlightenment Gallery, the idea is to develop some kind of sensory label rather than a text label.
Working Sound Cards
The picture below shows posit notes with ideas from the co-researchers for sensory post cards.
Kate and Nic gave a hands on presentation of the Sensory Objects project to the Inclusive Museums Conference at the Autry Museum in Los Angeles. We sent a big box containing Sensory Objects developed by our Co-researchers from Reading College at MERL and also the Access to Heritage Group in Liverpool. We showed slides and videos of our current group from the Tower Project at the British Museum to explain our project conference attendees. We met people from all over the world who were interested in our project. The pictures below show some of them trying out the objects you can see Phillip and Johns scrapbooks of Sudley House Liverpool, Sians mooing boot and Rachel’s Pink grunting Pig and Nic explaining our ideas of using Squishy Circuits, littleBits and our research with littleBits go LARGE.
Inclusive Museums Presentation Sensory Objects
Sensory Objects Presenation Nic at the Inclusive Museum Conference
During the conference there were many talks and discussions often all happening at once. One of the most inspiring talks, I thought, was by Nina Simon, she wrote a book that helped give shape to our sensory objects project The Participatory Museum. Below are some images she used during her talk about Santa Cruz Museum where she is working at now. Her talk showed her ideas and experiences of making the museum a place where everyone can feel welcome and take part. She mentioned Pop Up Museums and also the idea of the museum acting as a place for people to have conversations, bringing unlikely people together, she described it as ‘bridging’ the two people bottom left of the picture are a lady who knits and a graffiti artist who meet during a workshop at the museum and really got on.
Presentation Nina Simon
During the talk Nina mentioned some of the problems of making the museum more participatory, that some people in the community accuse her of dumbing down the museum, she illustrated the problem by showing this cartoon below. You can’t please everyone, in the cartoon a character called MAH that Nina said represented her is telling Michelangelo that his painting of the Sistine Chapel is “a bit passive and that he must engage the visitor, leave room for the visitors to colour in your work with crayons or paint ball! you know…. dumb down your work!” Nina mentioned that by widening the audience to the museum you will also alienate people who enjoyed it as it was, but attendance and participation in the Santa Cruz Museum continues to rise and generate income because of her ideas of inclusion.
Nina Simon Cartoon
The video below shows Nina giving a talk which has similar content to the presentation at the Inclusive Museums Conference.
During this session the group discussed objects they had seen at the British Museum in the Enlightenment Gallery. Below is the programme for the day.
Tower Project Programme Session 4
Carly one of two PhD students contributing to the Sensory Objects Project led a session to reflect on the objects chosen from the Enlightenment Gallery. The picture below is an example of one of our Co-researchers Justin choosing his object in the Enlightenment Gallery, a silver replica of the Warwick Vase, he chose the vase because it reminded him of a football trophy, when asked to describe why he chose it he held the Warwick Vase above his head.
Justin and the Warwick Vase
One by one our co-researchers presented their chosen objects to the rest of the group and shared their thoughts on this object (why they liked it, what they imagined it would feel/smell like etc)….Our visitors from Austria shared their chosen objects they also presented some drawings and thoughts about the objects, this was their final session with the group.
Austrian visitors Present Ideas
Then Carly asked our co-researchers to imagine they had a piece of clay in their hands and ask them to sculpt their object out of this imaginary clay.
Carly demos invisible Clay
Some of the group said how much they disliked real clay because it was too messy, but imaginary clay was nice and clean.
Working with imaginary clay
The group were really good at remembering and imagining what size the object they had chosen was, what shape it was, if it was smooth/rough etc…
Passing invisible clay object
When their object was complete Carly asked us to imagine our object had become really heavy, and we had to hand it to the next person, then we imagined it being really light.
Making objects with imaginary clay
After lunch the group were asked to upload their pictures on to our wiki webpage and add thoughts about the objects they have chosen from the Enlightenment Gallery. Our Co-researchers were going to carry out some independent research during August using our Sensory Expedition book. We had a vote to decide which museum our group would visit, the group chose the Transport Museum and our co-researchers would add information about the visit to the Wiki ready for discussion on our next session on Sept 3rd.
Tower Project Sensory Object co-researchers visit The British Museum focussing on the the Enlightenment Gallery, we were joined by visitors to the Rix Centre from Austria.
TowerProject at The British Museum
Below is our programme plan for the day.
Tower Project session 3 The British Museum
Sam began our day with showing me a drawing she had made about the Sensory Objects project.
Samantha and her Sensory Project Pic
We were welcomed to the museum by their Access and Equality manager Jane Samuels.
Jane welcomes Group
Jane gave us an image of Sir Hans Sloane and asked our group to see if they could spot the painting as they entered Room 2.
Jane said that when we found the painting we would find Hilary Williams who would give us a talk about Sir Hans Sloane, his collection and the Enlightenment Gallery see picture below.
Group Listening to Hilary
Hilary asked our co-researchers how old is the Earth? See picture below.
Based on the Bible people used to think it was 400 years old but when people discovered fossils they realised it was millions of years old.
Hilary asks how old is the earth
Hilary explained that the Enlightenment Gallery contained collections of natural things like shells, animals, mineral rocks and fossils and things made by humans such as tools and artworks.
After lunch our co-researchers were asked to choose an object in the Enlightenment Gallery that they liked and would like more information about. We asked them to consider what sensory information their object had and if they would like more. How would if feel if you could touch it? smell if you could sniff it etc Below are some of their choices, Justin chose a replica of silver cup.
Justin with Cup
Adalana the replica of the Pitt Diamond.
Adalana and diamond
Close up of replica Pitt Diamond that Adalana chose.
Emen chose a carved foot in a sandel.
Emen draws sandle
Katy chose a snake, rat and mongoose.
Katy Snake Rat
Tim chose a miniature Egyptian mummy sarcophagus.
Tims objects collected
Ryan chose Chinese Plates.
Julie chose a stuffed heron which she made some notes about.
Julie draws a heron
Sam and Noelle talk about shell collection and how it reminded her of her mum who lived by the sea.
Sam and Noelle
Michael chose a big bowl
Michael and his bowl
Judith chose objects from Africa
Some of the group tried out the British Museum handling table, they enjoyed using the magnifying glass to view the objects.
Sam tries the handling table
Katy at handling table holding a flint.
Katy at Handling table
Our co-researchers collected thoughts and stories about the chosen object (see pictures below), ready to talk about their chosen object when we meet at the Rix Centre next week.
In our second session with our Co-researchers from the Tower Project we asked them to bring in an object that was special for them and they would be able to talk about why they brought it. Below is the easy read outline plan of the day.
Week 2 Tower Project Session
The theme of the day was to create a Pop Up Museum form objects everyone had been asked to bring in. Everyone had brought something they could talk about we made a video of each person with their object.
We wanted to think about objects people own that are special for them and how they transform when they become part of a museum collection.
Co-researchers with objects Emem photographs them
First we described the object we had brought in, what it meant to each person, and where we kept it, what it made us think of when we saw it. The picture below shows Justin with his trophy for Disco Dancing he won it when he was 3 years old. Next Katy with her musical globe of the Lion King bought for her by her sister who had seen the stage play and Marc a visitor from Austria who is with us for 3 weeks on a study placement he had bought some wafer biscuits that are typically Austrian as a gift for everyone at the Rix Centre.
Talking about the objects
Once we had videoed everyone talking about their object we took instant photos of the objects and created a label with images and some text. The picture below shows all the Co-researchers with the labels they had made.
Everyone at the Pop up Museum
Next we decided to make categories for our Pop Up Museum, we chose 7 which is the same number they have in the Enlightenment Museum. Our section names for the Pop Up Museum were 1 Toys and Games, 2 Food and Drink, 3 Family Histories, 4 Places, 5 Awards, 6 Events and 7 Curios. The image below shows the group at work displaying their objects in different sections, Noelle helps Michael display his football.
Noelle helps organise the Pop Up Museum Michael’s Football is displayed
Popup museum in the making
Exhibits in the Pop Up Museum, we had some glass display cases which we tried out each object inside some were too big, so we used the base. Putting the objects under glass made changed the object. The images below show exhibits in our museum in the first picture you can see Adalana she chose to display her white cane, Kell showed her Grandmothers wedding ring and Julie a Champagne glass she was given on her 30th birthday.
Adalana, Kelly and Julie pop up exhibits
The picture below shows items brought in by Tower Project support workers Debbie displayed old money, Minos a mosaic that reminded him of Greece and Farhat (sorry need to find out how to spell name) a watch that he was given for his 25th birthday the 3rd of his collection.
Support workers Pop up Exhibits
The picture below shows Samatha’s journal where she writes about all the work she does, next is Tim’s soldier at the Trooping of the Colour he has a big collection of them he spoke how putting the figure under the glass dome changed its scale and finally Emen’s medal he won for running, he has lots of medals for sport.
Popup museum Sam Tim and Emem
Below shows Ryans bus he used to travel on a Route Master, Adjoa’s teddy given to her by a friend at the airport, a collection of all our wrist watches from some of the group and the Austrian food, chocolate, biscuits and pumpkin oil.
The Tower Project Pop Up Museum
We photographed the Pop Up Museum see pictures below
We took lots of photos
Austrian food and drink exhibits with sensory information on the labels
Austrian treats exhibit Pop up museum
It was a really interesting day, hearing about everyones object and then seeing them displayed. We talked a bit about how our museum might have connections to the Enlightenment Gallery at the British Museum we are visiting next. See a picture of our discussion below we remembered Andy’s talk about Museums and Collections last week, where the fork came from, what is was used for originally, who bought it and how it ended up as an exhibit. We asked our co-researchers what was our research question was? They said how to make museums more accessible. We will explore adding sensory information to tell stories about objects from our Co-researchers perspective. Our group suggested using video, touch sounds, braille to help make museums more enjoyable to visit.
We held an introductory session with our new Co-Researchers from the Tower Project London at the Rix Centre who will be researching sensory objects for the British Museum. The picture below shows the easy read plan for the day.
Tower Project Session ONE
It was great to meet every one from the Tower Group see the picture below
Tower Group during first session
Andy used cartoons to help us think about objects, collecting and displaying the objects in museums see picture below
We put Rumena’s chicken in the hallway so that as people walked past it activated the sensor and drew people into the room. We learned afterward that they were having a meeting in main theatre down the hall and they could hear the chicken and an occasional pig and cow throughout meeting, but they said they didn’t mind, it livened up the meeting. The showcase gave us a great opportunity to share our research with others from museums. One delegate tweeted about Rumena’s Chicken see picture below.
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Our seminar was excellent and we want to say a big Thank You! to all who took part you were brilliant. Below shows the events of the day in our easy read programme
Seminar Easy Read Doc
Miranda Fox from Reading Mencap Coffee Club began the day with an intro to the project with Kate
Miranda from Reading Mencap
Phil Lucas Head of Reading College LLD/D Dept was also kind enough to say a few words, he mentioned that our project predicted the future, learning ‘through project’ which he felt was very successful and something that Reading College would be doing more of in the future. He was very proud of what the students had achieved and that it had benefited both students and staff.The picture below shows Rachel demonstrating her pig to Phil and Skye using an iPad to show her Wiki
Rachel with Phil Lucas in background
Our Co-researchers demonstrated their sensory objects to the seminar, the picture below shows Gosia helping one of our visitors experience Rachel’s Pig.
Trying Rachel’s Pink Pig
Trying Rachel’s Pink Pig close up
Sheep cushion that goes baa when you stroke it
Sian shows Tina from the University of Reading Art Dept her Wiki
Andy smiles while photos
Kate Arnold-Forster Director of MERL talked about the impact of the project on MERL that it had given them ideas for interactive exhibits in the redesign of MERL and also for workshops that have a more open ended creative approach.
The picture in the slide below shows the museum where Sensory Objects will work next at the British Museum from July 2015.
Kate ArnoldForster Director of MERL
Special thanks go to our Co-researcher group who came up for the two days from Liverpool. John Taylor and Phillip Ryan from Liverpool Mencap Access to Heritage Group
John & Philip present their research using the Sensory Objects Cookbook
John shows Nicola andPhilip shows Gosia sensory Scrap book
John and Philip gave a vivid report of their experiences using our Sensory Activities Cookbook, by demonstrating through slides, fat scrap books and boxes of textures, and their reflections and thoughts of their sensory experiences visiting Sudley House in Liverpool.
Gosia and Andy presented ideas about using multi media as away for our co-researchers to reflect.
Gosia & Andy presentation
Andy talking about multimedia advocacy
Nic presented littleBits go LARGE and other workshop tools developed by the project to make technology more accessible or is that make accessible technology?
Nic and littleBits
Having a go with littleBits
Nicola Grove gave a talk about the meanings of objects and led a discussion.
Nicola during her talk
Nicola asked for a volunteer to help her discuss what objects mean to different people, she asked John close his eyes and tell us what object he was holding. John gave a great description of the cold feel of a metal key. Nicola asked the audience what a key meant to them, some people said home, but Nicola mentioned that for those of us who don’t have our own key to where we live it would have a different meaning.
Nicola Gives John a Key
Qian Chen our students lecturer finished the day by leading an impromptu sing along of Old Mac Donald! by that time our numbers had swelled to around 80 people as many students arrived from Reading College.
We were invited to the National co-ordinating centre for public engagement (NCCPE) Engage Competition award ceremony at the Natural History Museum London.
Only three people per project were allowed to go, otherwise we would have invited more of our research group to come along! The picture below shows Nic, Kate and Ajay by a banner showing our co-researchers in Liverpool.
At Award Ceremony
At the ceremony we watched videos from all the finalists projects in the final including Sensory Objects. You can watch the videos here
Sensory Objects were runners up in the Art Design and Culture Award. We were really pleased to be included amongst such great projects. The picture below shows our page in the finalist booklet and a crystal paper weight awarded to all finalists.
Sensory Objects Runnerup Page
After the ceremony we were given afternoon tea see picture below, which we enjoyed very much!
After the ceremony we were invited to take part in Universities Week Late at the Natural History Museum part of Universities Week, an action-packed evening to explore how research impacts everyday lives. We took part in the Researchers Cafe we had a menu of questions about our research that the public could talk to us about.
These were our questions: How important is it to be able to experience more than our sense of sight in museums? Which senses trigger your emotions most? How do multisensory experiences improve museum experiences?
We made sure we took some props including Sians Moot and littleBits go LARGE to help our discussion. The picture below shows Nic and Ajay ready at the table.
Nic and Ajay ready to discuss at the Researchers Cafe
On Monday June 9th we held our event Buckets, Baskets and Boots at MERL, it was very successful everyone enjoyed the chance to meet our co-researchers find out what they had been researching and try their sensory objects.
Sensory Object Researchers at MERL event
The picture below shows Rachel and Sian helping to demonstrate Guillermo’s bucket, it made different farm animal sounds when you dipped your hand in and out some people loved it some found it too LOUD.
Demo of Guillermo’s Bucket
The picture below shows Rachel demonstrating her pig it grunts when you squeeze its nose and ears.
It was a lovely sunny day at MERL some visitors took the sensory objects outside to try the picture below shows a visitor from Reading College pressing the tractor on Skye’s bucket which played the sound of co-researchers singing Old MacDonald.
Pressing Tractor on Skyes Bucket
Rachel McGowan wasn’t able to come to the Monday event but many people enjoyed her jiggling pig.
Sunglasses and Rachel’s Yellow pig
John, Philip, Ticky, June and Gerry came from Liverpool Mencap Access to Heritage Group for the event and tried all the objects, the yellow pig see pic below made John laugh!
John with Rachel’s yellow pig
The picture below shows Ticky and Philip tryout Lukes bucket, when you drop an egg down the hole it Luke’s voice is triggered saying things like “Hole in One”, “Wheeeeee!” and “Quack”
Ticky and Philip try Luke’s Bucket
Our co-researchers used their Wiki webpages to tell people about their research.
Co-researchers Wikis on smart board
Skye with iPad showing her Wiki
Our co-researchers Rachel and Rumena made smoothies with Robyn that were delicious and made the place smell good too. The pictures below show Robyn and Rachel and Rachel making a smoothie for Gosia.
Our co-researchers and summer students Mia and Kassie helped everyone tryout littleBits
Sound boxes were demonstrated by our Co-researchers
and also discover our Wellie boot herb garden.
The day was well attended including many from Reading College, Mencap Reading and Liverpool Access to Heritage Group.
Finally the picture below shows a tweet comment about the event!
We had busy day at Reading College, Gosia and Ajay from the Rix Centre showed our Co-researchers videos compiled from their favourite photos chosen at the last session, the pictures are set to a piece of their favourite music. The video below shows clips of the group watching their videos.
Next Nic showed Rachel and Rumena their updated art works, that now had motors in to make them move.
Rachel’s Yellow Pig
First Rachel McGowan’s yellow pig, Rachel wanted it to move in the bucket and make the sound of a pig. Skye, and Sian helped Rachel to try it out.
Then we tried out the mechanism for Rumena’s chicken in a basket, when we discussed what the chicken would do Rumena did the Makaton sign, or what we recognised as the funky chicken dance! So her chicken need wings that flapped.
Rumena’s Chicken and Egg
Rumena made her chicken using a wooden spoon for its head, this made using a pair of marigold gloves to make wings the obvious choice and gives Rumena’s chicken a very unique look, everyone in the group enjoyed it. The the battery to power the motor is in the big egg on the side. Both Rachel and Rumena’s motors and sounds are triggered by a movement sensor. You can find out more about all the workings for our objects on our other webpage ExtraSensoryObjects
After lunch Robyn arrived and asked our Co-researchers to make labels for our Wellie Boot Herb Garden.
Wellie Boot Herb Garden
Robyn brought clippings from the planted herbs to college so our co-researchers could smell them, name them and draw them to make labels identifying each herb boot.
Robyn with herbs
The picture below show some of the labels being made.
Labelling Herbs for Wellie Boot Herb Garden
We had another go with the Hoofy Horse, it now has four legs and needs two people one for the front and one for the back. The video below shows Rachel, Guillermo and Sian having a go Rumena is also making it ‘clip clop’ .
Finally we had a go at singing and recording Old MacDonald, the recording was to create a sound for Skye’s farm bucket, when the tractor is pressed it triggers Old Mac Donald Skye wanted lots of animal sounds in her bucket. The video below shows clips of our singing with some Makaton signing too.
During our session we continued to test and finish our sensory objects.The video below shows Rachel testing her Pink Pig in a Bucket.
Robyn helped our Co-researchers create different smoothie recipes and we all taste tested them, some of them used herbs planted and grown in boots by our Co-researchers. At our event Buckets, Baskets and Boots on June 9th at MERL our Co-researchers will be making the following smoothies for visitors to try:
(strawberry garnish on rim of glass)
ICED APPLE AND MINT TEA
Fresh apple juice
Fresh mint from our wellie garden
(sprig of mint to garnish)
Freshly squeezed orange juice
(orange slice garnish on rim of glass)
Freshly squeezed orange juice
(orange slice garnish on rim of glass)
After a lovely farmers lunch provided by Robyn eaten outside in the sun we tried out another sensory object called Hoofy Horse, this was inspired by Rachels picture with the invisible horse in MERLS collection.
Rachel as horse with invisible horse
We had made the sound of horses hooves using coconut shells so we decided to use some pressure sensors to make a clip clop sound, testing of this is shown in the video below.
We also looked at some images of our Co-researchers meeting a rabbit during one of their lessons at Reading College they are planning to visit a pet shop to learn all about domestic pets. The picture below shows the rabbit with Skye and Guillermo.
We showed some videos of our research at MERL with our Co-researchers from Reading College LLD/D. The picture below shows Toby Butler who runs the MA from UEL holding Sian’s Moot, Ajay is demoing our sound box and Co-researcher Skye and lecturer Cathy from Reading College appear in the video.
Toby and Ajay with Skye and Cathy in the video
We also took Lukes ‘blue flag’ bucket. We told lots of people about our research and our events in June. The picture below shows Toby talking to Carolyn from GEM
We are going to have talks and demonstrations about the project on Tuesday 10th of June the Seminar is part of Universities Week Below is a flyer in easy read version and with more text about the Seminar. Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to attend the seminar its free but places are limited.
We are working towards two events in June part of Universities Week on Monday 9th our Co-researchers from Reading College LLD/D dept will present our research in the Museum of English Rural Life (MERL). Below is the poster for the event, hope you can come!
Although making sensory boxes were planned during this session, we used the whole session to feedback about the book its self. It took longer than expected so we made some sensory boxes in our final session at Sudley, the pictures below show some of our Sudley House Boxes made during our final session.
Angela’s box of Sudley House
Close up of Stephen’s Box of Sudley House
Ticky wrote this report for us on the groups thoughts about the cookbook. We began by recapping on the previous session. We went around the group individually to share Objects made last week, iPad photos, Printed photos, to help them to remember and to share. In pairs – with support staff and service users we looked at the whole of the cookbook.Feed back was filmed and some notes were written in the books. Some really useful comments and suggestions came out of this session.
The name is misleading
It would be good to have the whole section about one activity in one place instead of separated with appendices
It would be good to have a list of things you need for the activity with the cartoon
A session planning template would be useful for support staff
A filled in version as an example would show supporters what kind of thing to write
(We made a template for support staff as part of the Hands On training – but we think it could do with being reformatted as it looks too much like a form and some staff find that off putting.)
A blank page for notes would also be useful
J&G have been adding a starting activity (ice breaker) and a feed back session at the end and this could be worth suggesting in the book if it is to be used by support staff.
Who is the intended audience for the book? Casual visitors? Venue staff? Support staff, service users all?
It could be used by groups visiting if they were handed a sheet on arrival to help them focus their visit on a sense?
Or for a 6 week block visit
Could be a really useful tool for support staff to plan activities at the base through the senses over several weeks – for example a group have South America as their topic and could choose to have a food focus then music……
Suggested that it could be less linked to a house and made more general
Produced as a durable book as it would get a lot of use and handling
Asked about web resources they didn’t think it would work as staff in day centres are not given the time to go on line and down load plans
And they would be unlikely to up load their photos, films sound clips, comments for same reason.
Unless it was incorporated into the session
Other comments on book
Simple symbols possibly in colour and quite big needed for the senses to be used where ever there are titles smell touch etc introduced in the contents page where it can be explained if necessary then recognised elsewhere.
Symbols Used in place of the photos which are too ambiguous in contents and else where (although lovely for the group as they are in them)
Most of the cartoons are brilliant and are an excellent way to engage with the book for people with learning disabilities.
Some pictures are confusing and misleading – microphone mistaken for an ice cream – mouse confuses people – smell pictures are hard to read – texture is most unclear and needs rethinking – possibly using real pictures?
The questionnaire is not made for people with learning disabilities
If you want their comments need more work on this – yes/no answers smiley face sad face.
Some comments written in books directly which I will send to you along with the films of people feeding back.
Our group of Co-researchers in Liverpool have continued to test the Sensory Objects Cookbook at Sudley House Liverpool throughout February and March 2014. Each week members of the Access to Heritage group have met and tried out a different sensory expedition. In an earlier post we told you about a touch activity, the next was sound.”
The group brought sound making equipment with them to Sudley house, Shakers, Keyboard, etc. June led an activity where we all had to close our eyes and sit quietly for a couple of minutes just to listen. Then we went round the room to find out what people had heard. It was surprising what you could hear when you listen! Shoes on stairs, I heard, people talking, Chairs creaking, bird song, dogs barking, Carl drinking coffee and putting cup down, the sea. In the house we went round in small groups with i pads which we used to record images and sound. We created some sounds our selves – like opening drawers, walking on wooden floors and turning the pages of a book.
Sound workshop, collecting, imagining and making sounds at Sudley House
We recorded people chattering and clinking in the tea room. We imagined what other sounds might have gone on at the dining table for example – pouring drinks, laughing. cutlery, clock ticking, banging plates, biting, chewing, scraping. After lunch we listened to sounds each of us had recorded on the i pads: a creaking door, hitting railings with a stick, turning a door handle, walking down stairs, cafe sounds,rain drop, fire cracking, talking. Some people took photos of paintings and photos and imagined the sounds they would make. The group didn’t end up using the sound makers they had brought with them.
The main focus of our workshop was for our co-researchers to try out some of the Sensory Objects in development. Sian’s mooing boot was first, the group enjoyed stroking it, sometimes if fell over which surprised people, but the boot has been rebuilt by Nic with it’s electronics inside, to be pretty robust. We did wonder if we need to weight it down in someway, although some co-researchers would like to pick it up and stroke it others wanted to just pat it, which could make it topple over.
Sian with a pair of mooing boots
Sian was clear that she preferred hearing her own mooing rather than having sounds of real cows, so we recorded her mooing and will change the sound track. She also painted another version of Old MacDonald for the New Boot.
Luke tests his bucket
Luke’s ‘Hole in one’ bucket was next, Nic tested out flag poles that would alter the sound track when the egg/ball went down the hole. Luke definitely preferred it when he heard his own voice. We discovered the hole to put the pole in was had to find and that wooden poles were easy to break so Nic suggested aluminium poles. We recorded Luke speaking some more to add to the recording.
Then we tested out Skye’s Farm in a bucket, Skye had asked for the sound to be on constantly so the sounds of the farm were fitted with a timer.
But the group had become used to touching to trigger sounds from their previous experience with the boot. We wondered if we should add a touch sensor too?
We also tested the sensors for Rachel’s pig it still needs a bit of work we demoed it with NIc making the sounds as the sensors are not quite ready yet. Rachel also made a fantastic drawing of animals
We also made smoothies which we had after another delicious lunch with freshly churned butter supplied by Robyn. We drew on and planted out some more Wellie boots with plants that smell good. Rachel and Guillermo concentrated really hard on this task and collected some stones from MERL’s garden for drainage.
Reading Mencap Coffee Club came to MERL to help us with our research.
We focussed on the sense of smells to begin, Kassie organised 6 bags with smells inside and asked the group to find something in the museum that linked to the smells in the bags. Kassie had placed some of the wellie boots filled with herbs in around the museum.
Smells in bags Reading Mencap
These are the places the group thought the smells belonged
The group photographed where they thought the smells belonged. Next we demonstrated some of the sensory objects developed by our Co-Researchers at Reading College.
Sroking for sounds
Sians boot was very popular mooing when stroked, although Caroline found it disturbing, she preferred the sheep fleece cushion that went baa when stroked. We are working with Reading Mencap as local advisors for our project we were keen to hear their thoughts and opinions about the project so far. The next activity was to focus on taste, lead by Robyn the group made their own smoothies and juice, they really enjoyed this, learnt about how healthy and easy it was and delicious too.
Smoothies and Juice
After Robyns delicious lunch at which we spread our bread with butter that we had made from shaking cream in a jar with a marble in it we showed the group some of the electronics kits we have used with our Co-Researchers from Reading College. We wanted to see if they found our littleBits go LARGE kit easier to use. Kevin had a go with both and found them both easy, Charlie and Miranda made some excellent sounds with the Synth Kit.
In the garden of MERL with Sensory Objects Researchers, Reading College LLD/D Students and Staff with our International Design for all Foundation Award . Photo by RUMENA
Our Co-Researchers helped Robyn make a cake and prepare our lunch they were given the opportunity to try on some mop caps that farmers wives would wear.
Preparing lunch wearing Mop Caps
Rachel helped Robyn mix the chocolate cake mix
To celebrate our award we made cakes
Celebrating our award with tea and Cake
Co-Researchers in MERL with their International Design for All Foundation
After lunch Robyn asked the group to try making a glass filled with water make a ringing noise. The idea was for our Co-Researchers to do an activity that would allow the group to be calm and restful. The picture below show Rachel making a glass of water make a ringing sound with her wet finger. We also asked the group to sit and look into a jar containing water and glitter each with farm animal inside that Robyn had made.
Making a glass sing Rachel
Looking at Glitter Jars
We also did more work on our interactive objects and posters for our event on JUNE 9th 2014.
Rumena worked on her chickens head it now has three eyes! Rumena chose a pair of yellow marigold gloves for the chickens wings, Nic is working on a way to make the wings flap. We tested a stroke sensor in Sians boot that made a mooing sound when she stroked the furry boot. We tested Luke’s ‘Blue Flag, Hole in one’ mechanisim it was nice and loud but now it needs to have Luke’ voice instead of numbers on the recording. We asked Skye about her creature and basket she would like all the farm animal noises. We explained to Guillermo that we plan to create 4 buckets with sensors that Guillermo can play, we also asked him about a balloon he had painted red and blue he said it was a donkey. Rachel would like her yellow pig to grunt, we also explained we will make her other pig rustle in its straw bucket. Rachel 2 worked on the nose of her pig which she would like to grunt when Squeezed.
We asked the group to fill in empty speech and thought bubbles for our poster. What sensory things have they heard, tasted, seen, touched and tasted in the Museum of English Rural Life, what do they think about the senses and MERL?
Sian & Skye Speech Bubbles
Sian and Skye Thought Bubbles
Luke drew his thoughts about the milk bottles in the display at MERL the picture is shown here alongside an instant pic taken by one of our Co-Researchers and given a smiley sticker as one of our groups favourite pics.
Andy and Ajay from the Rix Centre led a Multi Media Advocacy Session with our Co-Researchers at Reading College. They did some further work with students on their wikis, the idea was to see how we might be able to join up some of the work we have done about MERL with multi sensory workshops with the work that is part of the student curriculum on independent living, transition and developing participation in the community. We thought that we could draw from the existing array of photos that students have from MERL and see how we can talk and work on themes such as WORK, TRANSPORT, WHERE YOU LIVE and HOUSING, COOKING, DOMESTIC SKILLS etc. – using the MERL experience and sensory approaches as the starting point. The video below shows Sian with Andy’s help demonstrating to the group how to make pages for her wiki about Travel. Ajay took some video clips of Sian and Andy.
Our aim is to use the students’ wikis as a place where they can put together their thoughts and ideas. They may also use the Internet and Google Image search to connect the old with the new, bringing their insights and sensory understandings into their reflection about their own lives and their future goals and wishes.
Co-Researchers at Reading College
The picture below shows Andy and Sian working together on the interactive white board to create Sian’s wiki. The idea was to explore transport Sian had seen in MERL a tractor then discuss how Sian travels, she found a picture of a taxi and showed us her bus pass.
Sian and Andy talk TRANSPORT
Then all the Co-Researchers created pages about Transport using i Pads.
Racheal, Rachel, Guillermo and Skye using i pad to talk TRANSPORT
This testing session the first of six was a chance for Nic to introduce the Cookbook to a new group, and to introduce Sudley House. The picture below shows our Co-Researchers looking at the Cookbook.
Cookbook Test at Sudley House
Stephen Hogg, Angela Green, Gerry Regan and June Jenkins were Sensory Objects Co-Researchers 2012-13 at Speke Hall Liverpool. We asked them along with Ticky Lowe and Nic Hollinworth to meet and introduce John, Keith and Pauline and support worker Anita from Stockbridge Day Centre to the Sensory Objects project Cookbook. John, Keith, Pauline and Anita are new to the project and we wanted to show them the Cookbook and see if they found it easy to use as a guide to planning sensory activities at a new venue. Led by Ticky we explored Sudley House focusing on and recording textures of actual objects, costume and objects in paintings.
Sudley Hall Textures
Then back in the workshop room we used Ticky’s collection of fabrics to choose textures like the ones we found in the house to make a “textural” record of our visit. For the next sessions Anita will be using the cookbook to plan and deliver workshops at Sudley House herself. Ticky’s role will be to document the sessions and find out how Anita finds using the cookbook to plan and deliver the sessions.
We met up for the first time this year at MERL we started our workshop by reviewing the objects we made last term, and what needed still to be done ready for our exhibition on June 9th 2014.
Group Busy at Work
Nic had added a sensor to Lukes bucket the idea was based on Lukes interest in golf, the bucket has a golf hole in the top when the ball or egg is dropped in it triggers a sound. The image below shows the group testing it. Sometimes the sound worked but sometimes it did not Nic trieded to find out why.
Testing the hole in one bucket
Then Our Co-Researchers were then asked to help design a logo for the Sensory Objects project here are some of their ideas.
Robyn prepared a delicious lunch including baked apples that the group stuffed with sultanas, apricots, nuts and seeds which were cooked in the microwave. The picture below shows Sian with some of the apples.
Sian with baked apples
After lunch the group worked with Ajay to make some sensory posters for our exhibition. Ajay recorded the group speaking about each sense and starting to choose pictures to use on the posters. Then we asked the group to start planting herbs in wellie boots so by June we would be able to add some smells to the museum, we planted thyme, rosemary, mint and chives.
The picture below shows Rachel planting her boot with mint.
Rachel 2 planting boot
The picture below shows the group showing their boots planted Rumenas boot is in the centre.
The picture above shows a page of the MERL newsletter featuring our Co-Researcher from Reading College Sian showing her Old Mac Donald’s wellie boot. The article tells about our SHOWCASE EVENT to be held at MERL on June 9th our Co-Researchers will be presenting their research to the public that day. The next day JUNE 10th we will be holding a SEMINAR and our Co- Researchers will present their research to curators, museum workers, academics, caseworkers etc.
We have been asking our Co-Researchers to experience MERL, The Museum of English Rural Life, using their 5 senses. We aim to share these sensory experiences with the public by adding sensory information through artwork made during workshops this term. We have been making and collecting sounds, often inspired by the groups love of the song Old MacDonald, we have thought about smells we could add to the museum using herbs and spices and the smell of rubber boots, we have explored textures of the museums collections including the feel of wood, metal, straw and eaten a series of amazing farmers lunches. We have experimented with how we could make visually interesting objects to touch, that could trigger sounds and smells. In the morning of this workshop we thought about where we could add sensory objects to make a visit to MERL more enjoyable. Sian took some images where she would like to add a sensory object, she photographed a tractor and where there were photos of cows. Last week Sian worked with wellington boots one had a picture of Old MacDonald on it with cow fur Sian would like the sound of cows mooing, but the moo sounds made by the group.The other boot was covered with grass with her painting of a tractor on it that would make the sound of a tractor engine.
Sians photo where she would like a sensory object
Sian with Old MacDonald Boot that will “moo”
Sians photo where she would like a sensory object
Rachel was keen to have a basket everyone was allowed to touch in the museum display.
Rachel wants to a basket we are allowed to touch
Later in the morning Nic demonstrated a potato battery to the group, so we could try out trigger different sounds. After this we started to become a bit Christmassy. Our Co-Researchers gave us some brilliant Christmas cards they had made. We asked everyone to decorate some seasonal biscuits and cakes which we added as a centre piece with the Co-Researcher cards to decorate our Christmas Farmers Lunch. The picture below shows the group decorating biscuits.
Decorating biscuits ready for christmas lunch with handmade cards from our Co-Researchers
The picture below shows our Christmas Farmers lunch, we had crackers too.
Christmas Farmers Lunch
After lunch our group worked more on their Sensory Objects, there are several pigs being made.
Group hard at work
In the picture below Rachel is painting a yellow pig she also made a pig hiding in a bucket.
Rachel paints pig yellow
Rachels other pig hiding in a bucket
Rachel 2 added a rabbit to her bucket
Rachels rabbit in a bucket
The picture below shows Skye drawing with her cow on the table.
Skye drawing a cat her cow is in the background
Luke is very keen on golf so we imagined a duck left Old MacDonalds farm to visit a golf course the duck was right by the blue flag when there was a “hole in one” Luke loves to say this we recorded him saying “a hole in one” Luke made a golf ball from air drying clay which he dropped through the hole. We wondered if Luke would like it if the ball triggered the sound of his voice saying a whole in one, Luke also made the sound of a duck. Luke was the Co Researcher who first mentioned Old MacDonald and was keen on duck and chicken noises. The piece below shows a golf inspire sensory object we are calling “a hole in one”
Our Co-Researchers became farm animals, we asked them to find places in the museum they would like to see or hear animals. The pictures below show Guillermo, Skye and Rachel getting ready and the whole group in the museum. There are lots of machines in the museum, there are some photos of animals and lots about horses. We couldn’t find many places where cats and dogs might be except in some old black and white photos on the side of the victorian picture display, we found a chicken in the toy farm displayed in the museum. Rumena was a sheep she found some sheep shearing tools and a picture, we are discussing making a sheep that visitors would be able to record their own ‘Baa’ and hear everyones Baas if the stroke the sheeps head. Rachel and Skye had seen a film about chickens at the weekend called Free Birds, Rachel was very good at acting like a chicken. Skye became a cat and later a pig, while Guillermo was very good at being a dog.
The image below shows Rachel with the invisible horse as a horse, this is where we would like to hear the sound of horses. We have been exploring some press sensors that could trigger sounds we wondered if we could place the press sensors under horse shoes so if a visitor stood on them it would trigger the should of a horse and cart.
Rachel as horse with invisible horse
The picture below shows Sian as a cow Sian enjoys mooing and Luke as a duck, Luke had written about the sounds ducks make on his suit. We let the group have decorating suits as we were doing lots of messy things during our workshop but everyone enjoyed wearing them while becoming an animal.
Sian and Luke
We also prepared some paper mache balloons ready for next week, the group work hard and were very focussed on covering their balloons, we hope to turn them into either eggs, heads, animal bodies or speech bubbles? We will find out next week.
Balloon Paper mache
Next we turned our drawings of Old MacDonalds Farm into paintings on canvas so we could add them to our boots, baskets or buckets. The pictures below show Rumenas drawing and painting of a hen, Sian drawing Old MacDonald with a painting of a green and yellow tractor, Rachel drawing a chicken and Lukes painting of a duck.
We held a session at Reading College using Talking Mats which is a way of finding out what our Co-researchers had experienced using their sense to discover MERL. The session was led by Gosia from the Rix Centre. The mat has images of the five senses and objects from the MERL collection. We asked our Co-researchers which sense they would most like to use to experience an object in the MERL collection.The pictures below shows the talking mat, it has images of the senses and objects from MERL, we asked the Co-researchers which sense they would most like to use to experience an object in the MERL collection.
Gosia with Sian and talking mats
Guillermo with Talking Mats 2
Skye talking mats results
The talking mats sessions were videoed and will help us work towards developing our sensory objects. While each person did Talking Mats with Gosia, we added more info to their individual wikis, we used iPads to do this. The picture below shoes Guillermo using an iPad
Guillermo using ipad to upload his webpage
Later we asked the group to make Old Mac Donald’s Farm from foil and drawing.
Group making old Macdonalds farm
The picture below shows Rachael and Guillermo drawing their farms.
Sian’s picture of Old MacDonald’s head, farm house and tractor
Sian Old Macdonald face house and tractor
Rachel drew some reindeer for her farm.
The picture below shows Rumenas farm she created some snails for her farm.
The picture below shows Luke and his drawing of a farm Luke mixed in some words about golf and made a golf club with the silver foil. I asked Luke if he had ever played crazy golf I wondered if we could link golf with farming as Luke is so keen on golf.
In the workshop today we concentrated on the sense of SMELL and SOUNDS. In the morning we asked the group to use their sense of smell. We asked the group if they could point to the part of the body we use for our sense of smell. The picture below shows Rachel pointing out a nose. Robyn brought fruit for the group to eat but asked them to smell it before they ate it.
We asked our Co-Researchers to point to which part of the body we use to smell Rachel points to the nose
Then our Co-Researchers were given brown bags containing different smells we asked them to give them a smiley if they like the smell or a sad face if they didn’t then we put them in order of the favourite and least favourite smell.
Smelling the bags Guillermo, Rachel with Robyn
The picture below shows the smells in order of preference, soap and rosemary were the favourites, soil the least but this was probably because it didn’t smell very strong. Luke was very good at recognising the smells.
Smells in order of preference
After we asked the group to identify something in the museum that linked to the smells, we ended up in the herb garden to find rosemary, lavender and soil. Luke linked cheese to cows.Rachel found some mint too.
Rachel with bag of soil touching soil
We asked the group if they thought a smell would fit inside their boots, baskets and buckets, the picture below shows Rachel who choose rosemary to go in her basket, Sian wanted to put oranges and apples in her basket, Skye thought soil could go in her boot we discussed filling the boot with soil and planting lavender in it so it could grow we thought that might me a good idea. We wondered what plants could grow indoors that smell strongly? Cathy mentioned it would be good for the boots to be decorated so we will do that too in another workshop.
Rachel put rosemary in a bucket
The picture below shows the bag of smells Guillermo chose to put in a bucket he was quite distracted as the bucket was so reflective, he spent a lot of time looking at his face in the bucket.
Guillermo put smell of lavender oil in a bucket some of the group liked this others didn’t
Robyn asked the Co-Researchers to choose from different icings by smell to ice some cakes she made, chocolate was the most popular and blueberry the least, there was orange and lemon too.
Robyn offers Skye Cakes
Skye ices cakes
After lunch we experimented with a smell box developed by Nic, the idea was to create a way of triggering smells using littleBits in similar way we had used the sound box.
Guillermo smell box
Guillermo enjoyed the smell of rosemary but he also liked the breeze he could feel from the fan wafting the smell. The picture below shows Sky clapping to trigger the smell box while Sian checks for the breeze from the fan.
Skye & Sian claps to trigger smells
After this activity we imaged triggering smells in our Buckets, Baskets and Boots.
We then began another experiment using sound keys. Each Co-Researcher was asked to make a key from foam any shape they liked.
The keys have aluminium foil and was connected by wires to a micro controller. When all the keys were linked to the computer each key was linked to an animal noise when the keys were pressed the animal noise happened. The picture below shows the group working really well together with the keys create an orchestra of animal noises with different rhythms.
The group press their keys to make individual animal sounds together they create and orchestra
Nic linked the sounds to the bucket which worked when you put your hand in the bucket the group experimented with it. Guillermo and Rachel were good at moving their hands in and out to trigger animal sounds.
All the buckets together creating sounds, Rachels key and Rachel and Guillermo put there hands in and out to trigger sounds,
Our final activity of the day was to record a version of Old MacDonald the group sang to images of animals making all the animal sounds.
Our fifth workshop at Reading College was spread over two days the morning of Friday 8th and Monday 11th. On the Friday Gosia came and showed our Co-Researchers how to create their individual webpages unlike the group webpage which you can see here the individual webpages are private for each person to reflect on their experiences during the project. On Monday 11th Ajay and John came from the RIX to continue to add to the blogs. In the afternoon we created some collages and drawings.
Gosia explains the individual website on Friday morning
We continued to work on the website on Monday, the picture below shows Rachel drawing what she wants to say for her webpage picture of her holding a parsnip by a display about ploughing. Rachel drew a parsnip, tractor and a ploughed field, she drew an eye to say she had used the sense of sight. The image bottom left shows drawings and text by Rachel describing our lunch at MERL.
Rachel draws text she wanted under her chosen picture
The picture below shows both Rachel’s, Guillermo and Sian collaging. We asked our Co-Researchers to create collages that would tell a story based on our buckets, boots and baskets. We reminded the group about the nursery rhyme The old woman who lived in a shoe, we asked them what sort of story could be invented could someone live in a boot or a bucket, could sounds come from them, how could the basket, bucket and boot be transformed, give a sensory experience of MERL?
Luke made his collage and made sounds of the animals he made a very good chicken sound “BrkBrk” and started to sing Old MacDonald had a farm, Ajay recorded him singing and making animal sounds.
Skye also made some animal sounds but she also started singing the song Naughty Boy – La La La ft. Sam Smith.The rest of the group chose music too and it made us realise how important music was to our group, it has made us consider how we can incorporate music into our workshops more. The picture below shows Guillermo dancing and Rachel singing along to the Spice Girls.
Guillermo and Rachel listen to music
Guillermo drew a story where 3 pigs, Cathy and Guillermo’s family live in a bucket!
We focused this workshop on the sense of TOUCH in the morning, we had seven bags each with a collection of materials inside. We asked the Co-Researchers to feel inside the bags first and try to describe how the materials felt, some of the words the group used were rough, smooth, soft, hard, cold and warm. The picture below shows the group touching objects in the bags then using some pictures to discuss the types of materials and how they felt touch.
Seven bags with materials inside
After our Co-Researchers had described how the materials felt we asked them to place them in order of preference, the objects nearest the smiley face were their favourites the ones near the sad face our Co-Researchers least favourite material to touch. Luke chose his favourite as the milk bottle as it reminded him of breakfast, the softer materials such as the fleece and wool blanket were very popular as were the root vegetables, but the piece of sweetcorn was too cold and slimy to touch, the metal hard and cold. The picture below shows the lineup of the groups choices.
Favourite and least favourite materials to touch
Then our Co-Researchers were asked to choose one of the objects in the bags that they really liked to touch, could they find something in the museum that they associated with the object? This was quite a difficult task, the picture below shows Rachel who chose a Parsnip, Sian chose a plastic milk bottle, Guillermo chose some pop corn and Rumena who chose an egg, they are photographed holding the object next to what what they found to connect it in the MERL collection.
Materials we like to touch and things that link to them in MERL
We also asked the group to link one of the objects in the bags to a sound from the sound boxes. Rachel could remember where the sounds were on the dial! The image below shows Sian with an egg pressing the sound box to make the sound of hens, Luke he chose a potato and played the sound of a steam engine and Skye also chose the egg but continually pressed the button on the sound box so the clucking sound of the hen started to sound like barking and she pointed to the picture of the dog on the image sheet, we thought this was good observation of an accidental invention.
Adding sounds to objects
Robyn made us a great lunch again with salad, pizza, popcorn, sweet corn, bread that we sliced on the table and carrot cake. This time Robyn decided to keep the food on plates that could be passed around by the group rather than plating it up first the group were able to pass the food around to everyone.
After lunch we asked the Co-Researchers to try the littleBits electronics kit that we had used in the last workshop. We asked the group to make LED’s light up using different sensors. The image below shows the Rachel altering the pulsing of the LEDs with a small screwdriver and Skye trying out the pressure sensors from the littleBits electronics kit. Rumena and Rachel are becoming experts with the littleBits kit!
Skye uses pressure sensor
We also used a sound sensor, connected to the sound box, the picture below shows Sian and Guillermo clapping to activate the sound sensor.
Guillermo claps to activate a sound sensor linked to the sound box
Sian claps testing a sound sensor linked to the sound box
We practised using littleBits triggering the sounds from the sound box and LED’s with different sensors, then we opened some parcels, inside were various types of containers linked to farming, there were Buckets, Baskets and Boots.
These objects were inspired by the museum and the idea of a container to collect sensory information in. We wanted to experiment with objects other than plain boxes that we used last year at Speke Hall. We explained to the group that we chose these objects because they linked to the MERL collection, farming and they were all objects that could contain things. We asked the Co-Researchers what you could put in a bucket? Luke said water and Skye said eggs, she also mentioned that you could collect eggs in baskets too. Rachel had seen baskets in the museum and she linked the parsnip she chose earlier because she liked how it felt, to collecting vegetables in baskets.
Rachel links baskets to collecting vegetables such as a parsnip
Sian and Guillermo gave a practical demonstration of what goes inside a Wellie boot as they both decided to wear them. The picture below show them wearing the boots and caring the buckets and baskets.
Sian and Guillermo bootsbucketsbaskets
Luke, Guillermo, Skye, Sain and Rachel (Rumena not in pic)
Then we thought we’d try out the baskets and buckets, we asked the group to choose one of the containers and we went outside into the MERL garden to see what we could collect to put inside our buckets or baskets. The picture below shows the group outside collecting lots of autumn leaves, stones, apples etc.
inside the buckets and baskets
The picture above shows some of the objects our Co-Researchers collected in their buckets and baskets from the MERL garden, the leaves were beautiful, their reflection in the shiny buckets were great and to capture them we finished off our workshop by creating some textured rubbings from the leaves we collected see the picture below.
Leaf texture rubbings
During the last part of the workshop we introduced the idea to the group that we had made art from what we had found, outside enjoying how the materials looked in the buckets, how stones sounded when dropped in the bucket and also how interesting the leaves looked when we rubbed crayons over them to see the pattern and texture of the leaf. We also mentioned that these buckets, baskets and boots could have the potential to be containers for sensory information in the museum, we will continue to explore them in the next MERL workshop.
This was a really busy workshop our Co-Researchers impressed us with how focused and engaged they were all day.
Our Co-Researchers from Reading College met at MERL for their 3rd workshop. MERL had just held its Apple Day celebration on Sat and we were given some apples to taste, they were very delicious. The picture below shows us tasting various types of English Apples. We were joined by John from the Rix Centre standing on the left, the brown bags contain the different varieties of apples.
Group taste apples from MERL Apple day
We continued to work with the sound boxes. We gave each Co-Researcher a soundbox and asked them to choose one favourite sound that they would like to hear in MERL, we asked them to lead us to an object in the collection that was linked to the sound. Luke and Guillermo choose the horse and cart sound the picture below shows Luke standing by a cart that matched his sound. Luke really enjoyed turning a fly wheel near this exhibit.