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1.2.1 Exploring Hidden Heritage

I propose a typology of hidden heritage, to explore four types of hidden cultural heritage and creative approaches to working with communities to reveal this hidden culture and heritage,

which use the creative engagement methods of cultural asset mapping to test this in the practice-based elements of the PhD. This typology is based on learnings from contextual reading, and reflection on why creative methods can be of assistance within a cultural setting either where assets are not known to wider audiences and renewed attention is being focused on their promotion and/or where there is a desire to document the cultural character of a settlement and engage a more diverse audience in discussions. It is strongly influenced by my desire to promote more creative ways of opening up dialogue around cultural heritage, which both celebrates local knowledge and makes the most of professional input to incorporate multiple learning styles that engage the imagination and spark connection.

Table 1- A hidden heritage typology

Type of hidden cultural heritage





Opposite of this type





Ways of revealing the hidden cultural heritage

Exhibit, open up, explore, document, interpret

Map, research, write about, experience

Understand, promote, celebrate, explain, respect

Commemorate, learn from, share, mark, record

Source: original, based on own reflection

The principle behind the typology is that to reveal hidden cultural heritage one must work with the opposite of the reason for which it is hidden, considering ways in which to reveal it and engage with creative multisensory experiences.

Unseen cultural heritage is any cultural asset which is not normally on public view and can be in the form of private property, assets which are under the ground or under water, or

hidden from view due to later accretions. Intangible heritage also forms a significant element of hidden heritage as this is not a form of physical heritage and often only exists in the form of memories and traditions. Intangible heritage is easily documentable through creative techniques such as digital storytelling as this creates an archive of material. Digitisation of archival records allows the opening up of records to a global audience, therefore increasing the exposure of a previously unseen record set. Extrapolation on the exact number of views for digital documents are unknown at the outset of the establishment of a digital archive, however numbers can be monitored through data and metrics which goes some way towards demonstrating their value.

Open access to archives and historical data or records is widely advocated by heritage funding organisations and non-personalised public access to records held by public bodies is expected under freedom of information legislation (and the 30 year rule within the UK).

Bodies such as Europeana are working to make information available from archives as open access and creative commons licensing, also encouraging creative remixing of the records which are out of copyright. Projects such as the Google Art initiative open up resources which were previously only viewable in person as a fee-paying gallery attendee. Exhibitions can open up new audiences to heritage assets, such as buildings and collections. Non- traditional subjects may attract new audiences, and new methods of displaying existing collections may also bring in audiences old and new. This form of inventive engagement may invite people to reconsider elements of their culture or heritage and see things in a new way, increasing their level of significance and importance to new audiences, particularly where audiences such as the “new young” (of 20-35 years of age) have chances to be involved (Lithgow and Timbrell, 2014, p.7).

Undervalued heritage may be known but not celebrated, for example due to the values which underlie it being contentious or seen as undesirable in modern society. It has been pointed out that depending on the perspective which one adopts, it may be deemed inappropriate to interact with certain artefacts or places, and that modern technology can facilitate the exploration of contested heritage in a deliberately challenging way, or indeed be misused to reinterpret objects or stories (Cunningham, 2010). Within the context of a cultural asset mapping research programme it is important to remember that a researcher produced map can only be partially representative of the cultural landscape, so working with underrepresented groups to show “vernacular cultural pursuits... (across) the contours of cultural vitality” (Waitt and Gibson, 2009, p.287) is important.

Significant anniversaries of events provide opportunities to commemorate previously untold stories and similarly tying in with current events or mega events is actively encouraged as an audience development measure (Heritage Lottery Fund, 2010), although it must be done with sensitivity as it can raise issues of conflict and strong debate in certain political climates (Andrews, 2018). Thematic exploration of issues as part of cultural asset mapping and digital storytelling acts as a prompt and can allow documentation of assets which might be otherwise missed (e.g. look at sporting venues and assets as a result of an anniversary of a sporting team win, or explore assets connected with the establishment of an organisation in a particular year).

Research can help document cultural assets which were previously hidden, and make them known. The research proposes a methodology for revealing hidden heritage, as outlined in chapters three and four, using Paisley as a context for a case study of practice-based research.


1.3 Objectives1.4 Thesis Outline