Cemeteries, ships and coffins as Heritage Sandbox backs £300,000 of digital projects

By Culture24 Reporter | 13 April 2012
A photo of a woman looking at her phone on a cobbled city street
Cinemap, allowing visitors to trail Bristol's cinematic past, is one of six projects commissioned by Heritage Sandbox© Courtesy Heritage Sandbox
While the UK’s financial trials and tribulations appear endless, at least one corner of a strand being dubbed the “Creative Economy” seems in rude health.

Under the jurisdiction of REACT, an Arts and Humanities Research Council-supported "hub", six digital ideas will each become a "Heritage Sandbox", sharing £300,000 in backing.

Their technological techniques have the capacity to boggle your mind and smartphone, but their evocative premises have more to do with ghosts and the age of carrier pigeons.

In Bristol, for example, you can traipse across the city’s big screen past on a Cinemap, standing in the very spots where the manager of the Odeon was once murdered, or finding Cary Grant’s childhood cinema with a little help from the first maps of the city, made in 1750.

A team at another Bristolian institution, the Old Vic Theatre, are concocting Memory of Theatre, planting sense-activated triggers around the building informed by the words of floorboard watchers from decades and centuries ago.

And in Ghosts in the Garden, at Bath’s Holburne Museum, your phone becomes a Georgian Listening Advice, allowing you to embark on “an epic journey of rediscovery” among the old Sydney Gardens where swingboats and labyrinths once entertained a carousel of the classes.

“It’s about supporting unusual partnerships and brilliant ideas,” says Clare Reddington, REACT’s Executive Producer who will oversee each of the schemes under the Heritage Sandbox umbrella.

“The projects are great examples of the new ways of thinking that can be achieved by bringing together arts and humanities research with creative companies.

“We are very excited about working with these collaborations over the next three months and bringing their projects to life.”

More than 200 groups and researchers chose heritage as the hottest topic to explore. The three other plans will invite you aboard the ss Great Britain for a 19th century banquet replete with wraithlike passengers and crew, tiptoe through the truly haunting past of Arnos Vale Cemetery (320,000 bodies across 170 years) and even unravel the truth behind the Ivory Bangle Lady, the North African dignitary whose skeletal remains were excavated from a stone coffin in York at the turn of the 20th century.

The investigating team includes Christopher Knüsel, the President of the British Association for Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology, and Imagemakers, who designed the £4.2 million Archaeology Discovery Centre in Xian, China. Between the cemeteries and coffins, these adventures could prove chilling.

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