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5 July 2019

Abbeys, alleys and augmented reality: Scotland’s Urban Past comes to life

Explore Scotland’s urban histories in a new free travelling exhibition

Two smiling women enjoy a Scotland's Urban Past exhibit

Scotland’s Urban Past (SUP) unveils its ‘Past Forward – Stories of Urban Scotland’ exhibition at the Scottish Storytelling Centre today (Friday 5 July), which will run until Saturday 27 July.

The exhibition, which celebrates five years of community heritage projects, takes visitors on a journey around the nation, discovering some of the best kept secrets in our towns and cities, as well as some familiar sites seen through fresh eyes.

From traversing the heights of St John’s Tower in Ayr, to an augmented reality model of Arbroath Abbey in its heyday, Past Forward shares the work of more than 60 community groups from around the country who have engaged with the heritage that matters to them.

SUP Project Manager Chiara Ronchini said:

“Over the past five years we have travelled the length and breadth of the country, working with schools and adult groups from all walks of life to help bring alive the history they find in their neighbourhoods.

Past Forward is bringing all of their experiences together, celebrating what they’ve unearthed and what they’ve achieved in discovering their past.”

The exhibition showcases the work facilitated by SUP, an HES community engagement project, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. By sharing skills in recording buildings and capturing memories, SUP has enabled local groups of all ages to collect the histories that matter to them.

Community groups have delved into everything from bringing to life a community garden amidst the ruins of a long-gone castle in Granton, and creating postcards and bus tours of Glasgow to celebrate the Down’s Syndrome World Congress, to adding the first ever skate park to the National Record of the Historic Environment, and discovering rare surviving Second World War remains around Lerwick.

Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop said:

This exhibition is a fantastic celebration of Scotland’s cultural heritage and I am thrilled that people across the country, from all walks of life, have taken the opportunity to showcase the examples of urban heritage that matter to them.

“The aim was to enhance awareness and appreciation of the rich, diverse heritage of Scotland’s urban environment but this imaginative project has also demonstrated the value of Scotland’s heritage to our communities and how it can bring people together to celebrate our past whilst looking ahead to our future.

“I thank HES and the National Lottery Heritage Fund for their determination to ensure our country’s cultural heritage is recorded and shared.”

These projects are showcased through state of the art virtual and augmented reality, film, photos taken by the public, community maps and original artwork.

Deputy Director of the West of Scotland Regional Equality Council (WSREC) Ghzala Khan worked with SUP to record the stories of Glasgow’s diverse communities and photograph their hub, the Napiershall Street Centre.

Ghzala said:

Everyone has a story to tell, and now we have the ability to share ours.

“Being part of this project made recording history fun, we learnt a florescent pink sock is just as useful on a microphone in the wind as it is on a foot, and we were able to share the story of a building we love.

“This exhibition is a chance for everyone to be part of this project and see what’s been created over the past five years.”

There will be a range of workshops taking place alongside the exhibition. For further information or to book, visit SUP’s Facebook page.

The exhibition’s final stop is Southblock in Glasgow where it will run from 2 – 27 August.

About Historic Environment Scotland (HES)

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Stacey Dent
Historic Environment Scotland Media Office
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