Hello! I am a Scottish artist, designer and researcher based in Glasgow. My key area of interest is in collaborative projects that explore health, narrative and participation. I have a Masters of Design from Glasgow School of Art. My work encompasses visual arts, illustration, graphic design and delivery in the community. I am an associate service designer and illustrator with the Institute of Research and Innovation (IRISS) where I deliver participatory design workshops, conduct research, support co-design and create visual solutions focused on the world of social care.
I teamed up with Maryhill Health Centre’s arts strategy team to offer some health and wellbeing guided walks.On Friday 27th January we set off to explore the hidden beauty of the Forth and Clyde Canal by the Maryhill locks and local walkways, looking back at postcards and photographs from the Maryhill Burgh Hall archives.
After a short walk along the canal, we headed back to Maryhill Burgh Hall for a creative arts workshop. Using photography that was taken by previous workshop participants we created our own postcards to be exhibited in the health centre.
Maryhill’s story begins with Mary Hill herself, who inherited the Gairbraid Estate from her father, Hew Hill. When she sold the land to allow the canal to be built, she did so on the condition that it be named after Mary. We wrote to Mary to let her know how things have changed.
All set for a few weeks off focusing and making, I set off to Cove park in December for a self-funded residency as part of their bursary scheme for winter residencies. Unfortunately I had to cut it short... managing only one night! But still, here are the fruits of my one day of contemplation!
I am almost halfway through my year long project with IRISS as an Associate Service Designer for the Pilotlight project. Service design was chosen as an approach for Pilotlight because it is a collaborative process where people using the services, delivering and commissioning the services will be involved at every step of the design process.
My interest in user centred design is routed in my belief that design thinking opens up new solutions that can make a genuine impact on peoples day-to-day lives. The foundation of my practice is in empathy and user insight and I do not believe that services can be developed without the expertise of those who use them. I work regularly with organizations with combined cultural and healthcare interests. It was during these collaborations that I began to build on my interests in long-term conditions and mental health, and I recognized the potential of design thinking to be applied to SDS development. I am enjoying exploring my learning and delivery in this area.
Here is a little animation I worked on as part of the project- we decided not to use it in the end but I am sharing it here because I think its is quite endearing!
In July I felt very lucky to be able to travel up to Forres to take part in the Leapfrog Summer School. I went to represent Iriss, and to talk about what we have all been doing on the Pilotlight project.
Leading the summer school were staff from Leapfrog. Leapfrog is a research project led by ImaginationLancaster, in partnership with The Institute of Design Innovation at the Glasgow School of Art (GSA). The Leapfrog project is a collaborative project looking at the way we design and evaluate approaches to consultation. The summer school was a mixed group of people who are working on projects, and people who are doing their PhDs. We spent time sharing co-design methods, tools, ideas and debating aspects of our work. We talked a lot about the academic and societal impact of using action research.
We even had one of our sessions on Findhorn Beach!
Some of my favorite talks came from Professor Eva Brandt, an expert on participatory design from Denmark. She uses ‘design games’ in her approach to designing with people, or co-designing. Her approach puts emphasis on the fact that “organizing participation is one of the cornerstones of designing.”(1) There were interesting debates throughout the summer school about this approach. Does the aesthetic of the artifacts we are using matter? How can we be sure we are using appropriate language? How do we challenge hierarchy in research and design?
Testing my collaboration skills with willing guinea pigs!
It was fantastic for me to have a chance to share some of my experiences on the Pilotlight project. I was asked to chat about how Pilotlight fosters a culture of collaboration in its workshops, and I broke down my top tips into five ‘collaboration trump cards’.
In Pilotlight it is essential that we work with people who have barriers to participation, as they are often the people with the most in-depth expertise of a situation or experience. Therefore inclusion is a priority for us, and we use tools like inclusion checklists to make sure peoples’ needs are met. This checklist includes lots of questions, not just the usual ones regarding mobility and dietary requirements, but also questions about social and emotional needs.
Iriss appreciates that the work it does could not happen if it were not for the involvement of people who have lived experiences. We understand lived experience to be as valuable as professional experience. Therefore it is part of Iriss’ policy to offer to pay people to attend workshops who do not earn a salary. Valuing all of our labour equally contributes to tackling hierarchy in the design process.
Level playing fields
Reducing the dynamic of ‘Us and Them’ is really important in the Pilotlight design process. We use activities that help to break down this divide. My role as service designer is to design tools that specifically break down barriers and assumptions about skill and value. These can include tools that use play, personas and storytelling, for example.
Finding ways for everyone’s voice to be heard. For example, we have had members of our co-design teams who cannot process language, so we have had to find ways to ensure that their contributions can still be included and prioritised. We are currently exploring how to support them to have maximum involvement. Having the support of our Creative Adviser, Andy Archer, has been fantastic in this aspect.
The final collaboration trump card is very simple - time. Time is essential in allowing the group to begin to work collaboratively together. We allow lots of time within the workshops : for reflection, discussion, group work and to eat scones! We also allow lots of time outwith the workshops : people who are not as comfortable speaking out can contribute in other ways, via homework tasks or blog posts. Our project is structured to have 8 workshops in total with each co-design team, spread over 8 months. This allows for the group to develop and have time to work together through the double diamond process.
It was fantastic to represent Pilotlight at the summer school and I was very proud to showcase all the work that the co-design teams have worked on over the course of the project.
I am so pleased to show you all the new Woodcraft Folk Heritage Website I have been working on with the Media co-op. As anyone who knows me will tell you, I am a big fan of the Woodcraft Folk- I grew up in the organisation and learnt a lot about myself, the world and other people through the work of the brilliant volunteers than run groups across the country. Working on the heritage site was particularly special as it allowed me to spend time really exploring- bring back memories of badges, campfires, songs and great pals!
We worked on this site in a participative way- the icons, colours, logos and structure are all influenced by workshops and consultation with young people. Thank you to everyone who contributed and especially Simon, the magical coder, who guided me through my first full web design project!
Text from the site:
"A treasure trove of memorabilia! Priceless gems! Riches galore! Just a few descriptions of the wonderful materials collected and created by Woodcraft Folk’s 90th Anniversary Heritage Project. The project was made possible through Heritage Lottery Funding and the generous contribution of Woodcraft Folk districts and groups.
The people, practices and places through Woodcraft Folk’s first ninety years have been collected in story, film, photograph, text and song in this remarkable project. And much of this material will be accessible here – on the Woodcraft Folk heritage website. The project has created new ways of learning about the organisation’s past, and in pursuing thinking about its future. The 90th anniversary may only have lasted a year but it has opened an exciting world of heritage possibilities leading to the 100th anniversary in 2025!"
I have been working with the wonderful Alice Myers. Alice is a photographer and we have been working on some wee hoosies for yet to be released project- watch this space!
Last month I was lucky enough to receive a bursary to go to West Dean House, in Chichester, to explore my work around Landscape drawing. I use landscape often in my work to explore emotion, symbolism and narrative. The recent piece of work that I have featured in the Prescriptions Exhibition (photos in my last post) is made up of landscape drawings to express narratives of Chronic Obstructive Pulmanory Disease.
This week away was an opportunity to spend some time exploring these themes in a pressure free environment without having to look towards a finished piece of work. During the course I learnt an extensive range of ways of drawing and connecting with landscapes. In particular I revisited the use of drawing as research, which was inspiring and will influence my future practice.
Can you spot my work in the middle? What an amazing collection of Artists books related to medicine. Who would have thought there were so many!
I work on lots of different kinds of projects and sometimes it can be hard to keep track of what I up to!