Sensing Place is a pilot action research project using archive film and storytelling to explore the power of place. The aim is to identify new and existing models of creative participation specifically in places often perceived as remote or rural. Experienced cultural project leads Drew Wylie Projects and A Kind of Seeing partnered with national cultural institutions and community partners in three areas of Scotland.  The partnership commissioned three artists from oral and cinematic storytelling disciplines to deliver a series of community workshops and events across Southern Scotland during 2016.

The project outcomes led to the development of four research themes which are being shared with the cultural sector in Scotland and beyond. Sensing Place is supported by the National Lottery through Creative Scotland, and is part of BFI’s Britain on Film programme. Read more about the project process and outcomes in the Sensing Place blog.

“Beautiful shared stories and knowledgeable local people.”  Participant at Sensing Glenkens in Catstrand, New Galloway


Project Research Themes

KILMARNOCK in East Ayrshire, NEW GALLOWAY in Dumfries & Galloway, and HAWICK in the Scottish Borders were selected for Sensing Place pilot activity in Scotland based on:

  • A need for increased access to cultural engagement identified in those areas
  • Each are in developmental stages of screen-based arts infrastructure and capacity
  • There are local partners and existing or growing networks that can continue legacy
  • They are geographically contiguous to allow for efficient work across the project

Read more about each area below…

Kilmarnock is a large burgh in East Ayrshire. The town centre has a historic core with cobbled streets and fine examples of provincial Victorian architecture. Kilmarnock’s traditional industries were based around textiles (particularly carpets) and heavy engineering such as locomotives. Over the years, the town has been home to well-known manufacturing companies such as Saxone shoes, Massey-Ferguson tractors, and from 1820 to 2012 the Scotch whisky brand Johnnie Walker.

The post-war decline of textile and manufacturing industries hit Kilmarnock hard with the closure of many large employers and the town has been in a process of regeneration since the 1960s. Countering controversial media representations of the town and its surrounding housing estates, there has been a resurgence of locally-led cultural activity with the Dick Institute and Palace Theatre offering cultural and leisure experiences, the Burns Monument Centre housing East Ayrshire’s family history resource, local bands such as Biffy Clyro breaking into the national scene, and increased community activity in the North West area of the town.

New Galloway is a village in the Parish of Glenkens in Dumfries and Galloway local authority area. Situated at the eastern fringe of the Galloway Forest Park and just north of Loch Ken, Glenkens and the neighbouring parish of Glencairn (incorporating the festival village of Moniaive) are areas of natural beauty with Celts, Picts, Romans and Vikings all having left their mark on the landscape and villages playing a key role in the Covenanting movement of the 17th century giving shelter to many during turbulent times.

New Galloway is the smallest royal burgh in Scotland with a charter granted by King Charles I in 1629. Rows of white painted Galloway cottages and wide streets give a glimpse of what life was like in the past. New Galloway is a vibrant community welcoming visitors year round with pubs, hotels and tearooms around the village. The Glenkens Community & Arts Trust has the aim of linking the communities in the parish and runs Catstrand – a contemporary performance and meeting space offering a varied music, arts, film and exhibition programme.

Hawick is the largest of the Scottish Border towns and internationally famous for fine quality knitwear. The town has a long and colourful history which can be traced back to the 12th century. The first knitting machine was brought to Hawick in 1771 and since then brands such as Hawick Cashmere, Lyle & Scott and Pringle of Scotland have had or still do have manufacturing plants in the town today. Hawick is also known for its fearless rugby union team and the annual Common Riding celebrations – combining the annual riding of the boundaries of the town’s common land with the commemoration of a victory of local youths over an English raiding party in 1514.

Alongside the Common Riding, the town is home to a diverse variety of well-attended cultural festivals such as the historical Hawick Reivers Festival and Alchemy Film & Moving Image Festival. Heart of Hawick is an arts and culture led regeneration project, designed to make a substantial contribution to the social, cultural and economic wellbeing of Hawick and the wider Borders. It comprises the Tower Mill arts venue and cafe, the Heritage Hub archives and family history resource, and the Borders Textile Townhouse museum and gallery space.

Sharing Event: 1-3pm, Thursday 4 May

Since the workshop and event activity ended in December, Andrew and I have been meeting with everyone involved – the artists, our partners – to gather an idea of their experiences and what learning we can take from the project. This is also vital to the research... read more

Evaluating the experience

“Great to learn about the history of Kilmarnock and make new connections.” As good practice and as a recipient of funding from the BFI Britain on Film programme, we’ve been evaluating the experience of participants in the workshops and events. We had 18... read more

ACTIVITY: Sensing Place – The Borders & Beyond

3 workshops: 6 participants at each workshop Location: Heart of Hawick Promoted publicly and through partners Final exhibition: Tuesday 8 November – Thursday 1 December 2016 Heart of Hawick – Heritage Hub Free entry Attendance: 300 approx. A new interactive exhibition... read more