Reconstructing the Future, Reimagining the Past

James Lattin (UK)

Throughout festivalCHAT, James Lattin (@drjameslattin) will be discussing the creative possibilities of the Museum with a variety of artists and enthusiasts. With a focus on his concept of ‘wayside archaeology’ he will invite guests to elaborate on their approaches to the everyday object, fictional persona and forgotten corners. He’ll be providing updates via Twitter and on his website.

To read his blog post click here

#3M_DO_2019 disrupted collaborations and creative confabulations

Made with Padlet

Alex Hale (UK) and #3M_DO

In 2019 Scottish archaeologists, anthropologists, artists, heritage sector practitioners and students disorganised in four workshops to explore contemporary archaeology in Scotland. The participants were provided with notebooks to chart their workshop journeys in writing, drawing, photographs, paste-ups and collages. This is an exposition of those workshops, presented in a non-linear manner with no coherent thread. We have no idea what will be presented. We don’t care if it’s complex: we embrace chaos, disruption and incoherence!

“A Large and General Assortment”: Shopping at London and Paris House, Christchurch.

Jessie Garland (Australia)

A huge array of artefacts were found on the site of London and Paris House, an 1860s-1870s fancy goods store in Christchurch, in 2017. The assemblage contains a fascinating array of objects not often seen in the domestic archaeological record and provides a rare window into the material culture of a retail space, a commercial perspective on shopping and consumer choice. It is also one of the case studies from my thesis, which looks at the availability and use of goods in nineteenth-century Christchurch, New Zealand, particularly how much control people had over their shopping choices and how much was shaped by the cultural and economic worlds in which they lived.

La Trobe Archaeology Videos for festivalCHAT.



Colleen Morgan (UK)

As an anarchist, a mother, an archaeologist, I’m deeply concerned with making kin through the investigation and care of objects, places, and people. Finding a politics of joy and intimacy, and building things together as a way to resist Empire. In this short film I gave an alienated object, a child’s shoe, to my kin, the caretakers of the discarded to understand and reanimate this object, even as it disintegrated in our hands.

The film is 5 minutes long. Shoe was a project curated by Doug Bailey and Sara Navarro for the Ineligible Exhibition at the International Museum for Contemporary Sculpture in Santo Tirso (Portugal) as part of the exhibition Creative (un)makings: Disruptions in Art/Archaeology. More details here.


Pull Tab Archaeology World Typology Launch

Jobbe Wijnen (Netherlands)

In August 2018, archaeologist Jobbe Wijnen set out on a mission to create the first global archaeological reference collection, crowdsourced entirely through social media. Two years later and with the help of over 70 people, the Pull Tab Archaeology project presents Pull Tab Typology, ‘2.0 Woodstock edition‘, containing pull tabs, ring pulls and sta-tabs collected from over 30 countries by … you!

It has been an amazing journey so far. Starting from scratch, not knowing if anyone would really do it, we set a high bar: using the click-and-go mentality of Instagram, Facebook and Amazon, we asked people around the globe to do a whole lot more. “We can’t make a reference collection from pictures, you have to send us the tabs!” And to our amazement, people did get their envelopes and paper and sent tabs in, and often in large numbers too! After two years of nitty-gritty selecting and sorting, we are now ready to present our first big achievement here on this channel at festivalCHAT.

festivalCHAT visitors get a 15% discount if ordering before 9 November. Use discount code #CHATringpull

Click HERE for more ordering information.

Live worldwide launch Friday 30 October 15:30 GMT. Youtube premiere, with author available for discussion when viewed on Youtube or Facebook.

Autobiographies of broken toy cars: between patina and restoration

Gabe Moshenska (UK)

Blue Bird Sessions on Thursday 29 October 15:00 GMT @Gabemoshenska

Note: this event will take place on Twitter

What makes a memory object? Does patina signify a long and storied life? What does it mean to restore a memory object to its long-forgotten original state? This paper is a reflection on themes of nostalgia, artefact biographies, the conquest of time, and the denial of aging. 

Last year I started buying old Matchbox die-cast toy cars. I had a collection of these when I was very young: I used to push them around in a pram. I wanted to replicate this childhood collection. Luckily many junk shops have boxes of battered old toy cars for 50p each. I bought dozens. 

I also began watching YouTube videos of Matchbox car restorers, who carefully repaint and reassemble these tiny toys to perfection. This is now a popular television genre: shows like The Repair Shop and Car SOS, in which a broken heirloom or classic car is painstakingly restored, ending with the reveal of the revitalised object to the tearful, thrilled owner. I love it, but I’m also a bit sceptical. 

What’s lost when patina is stripped away? Authenticity, episodes in a biography, and generally the passage of time. A bare-metal restoration presents us with a time-travelled object, as if by magic. This theme has roots in mythology: the broken sword re-forged, the dirty rags transformed to shining armour, the old made new again in a spiral of fairy-dust. 

The patina on my 50p toy cars represents the passage of a lifetime, childhood play, and memories – none of them actually mine. Meanwhile restoration is presented as a near-magical triumph of materials over time. I think there’s fun and interesting ideas to explore here about materiality, time, mortality, authenticity, and linear and non-linear artefact biographies. 


Blood, sweat, and tears: Field notebooks as art objects

Alex Claman (US)

Blue Bird Sessions Thursday 29 October 08:00 CDT (13:00 GMT) @aclaman_archaeo

Note: this event will take place on Twitter

This photo-essay-via-Twitter-thread considers field survey notebooks and hand drawn survey unit images from the Sinis Archaeological Project in Sardinia as art/art objects. Archaeological survey data, the finds and find counts themselves, are collected in and from the fields represented by the sketches and then stored in the notebooks before being transferred to a more official and permanent repository, whether as graphite/ink on paper or bits on a disk. The field sketches may be referenced during the process of working on the project’s GIS, but by and large they exist primarily as last-ditch backups and failsafes; they are created but then languish, unused and potentially forgotten in attics, basements, or storage. 

These notebooks are by their nature art objects (as opposed to archive objects), composites preserving not only the imprints of pencil and pen but also (potentially) dirt, sweat, sunscreen, blood, and plant matter. The hand-drawn maps showcase a wide variety of artistic skill, and the variations provide an intriguing window onto understandings of spatial relationships and individual artists’ informational priorities. The notebooks, while broadly consistent in terms of categorization and physical size, demonstrate a wide range of organizational and use strategies, with project members prioritizing compactness, thoroughness, whimsy, or some combination thereof. 

Such creations are integral to the quasi-nomadic process of archaeological fieldwork; they are collections of preserved artistic fragments, creative engagements with fields and find counts.


The legends slot: Tributes to rock and pop musicians in London

Hilary Orange (UK)

Blue Bird Sessions on Wednesday 28 October 12.30 GMT @HilaryOrange

Note: this event will take place on Twitter

Come to the Blue Bird Tent to tour the shrines and tribute sites associated with rock and pop legends in London. From Highgate in the north to Brixton in the south, shrines, statues and murals are located in places that have a biographical association with an artist, as well as for reasons of access and symbolic value. Some of these sites are ephemeral, while others have become more ‘permanent’ features in the urban landscape over time. While fans do much of the initial physical and emotional labour in creating tribute sites, families and friends of the stars, property owners/managers, authorities, waste management teams, transport agencies, and heritage professionals also make choices in the site’s ongoing development, maintenance, and destruction. Persistence of memorialisation in the urban landscape depends on the emotional connections between music, musician and fan, on the music continuing to have resonance, and on fans continuing to undertake pilgrimages to sites.

Join this tour to take part in a musical pilgrimage to places associated with David Bowie, Amy Winehouse, George Michael, Freddie Mercury, and Marc Bolan.

This Blue Bird Session is based on a three-year longitudinal study of tributes to rock and pop musicians in London carried out by Hilary Orange and Paul Graves-Brown (Co-Is) 2016-2019.


The Museum Inside Me: An online socio-cultural connector in times of physical isolation

Marlen Mouliou (Greece)

Live talk on Friday 30 October 16:00-17:00 Eastern European Time (14:00-15:00 GMT)

How can an unprecedented global crisis, like COVID-19, be a catalyst for the making of an online socio-cultural project about museums and the museum itself as an institution? How can the museum as a concept and frame of mind provide an intellectual tool and the evocative process for understanding our personal and collective identities and the meaning of our cultural experiences and life through them? How can an online community participatory project strengthen the idea of the museum as a field of inspiration and connection that concerns us all and gives us agility and hope to overcome personal fears and physical (perhaps also social) isolation?

These, and many more, open challenges were behind the initiative The Museum Inside Me, a museum of positive thinking composed of two photo collections on Facebook and Instagram. Created in March 2020 by a team of three professionals in the field of museums and cultural management, The Museum Inside Me acted as a bridge of communication and expression between citizens in the difficult period of lockdown (mainly in Greece). Based on the force of its participatory, evocative and anthropocentric spirit, it also envisioned to widen up its activities and role after the lockdown was over in order to enhance the exposure of museums in the public domain and their relevance in everyday social life.

In the presentation, I’ll outline the principles behind the creation of this project, the practical steps of its making, its content and meaning, its social impact among the community of its followers, and its potential as a strategic option for bringing ‘non-believers’ closer to the meaningful mental and psychic space of the museum.