Image of a group of people embarking on a heritage trail against the backdrop of Stirling town centre

A big part of what we’re all about is ensuring that Scotland’s heritage is enjoyed, and celebrated with the world. So, when the opportunity arose to help a group of budding artists explore Stirling’s heritage for their Silver Arts Award, it was a no-brainer for us to get involved!

Kick-starting Creativity

Thanks to funding from Young Roots at the Heritage Lottery Fund, we’ve been working on a project that demonstrates how heritage settings can inspire artistic imagination.

Staff from our online learning service, Scran, and our Learning and Inclusion team, have been helping a really talented group of young people achieve their Silver Arts Award.

Image of a young artist looking through a scrolled up piece of paper covered in his sketchings

The Arts Award supports young people develop their interest in art.

Arts Award is open to any young person up to the age of 25, and supports them when developing as artists and artistic leaders. A Silver Arts Award, equivalent to a National 5, results in participants having a finished portfolio of artwork – but also demonstrates their ability to take on leadership roles in artistic projects.

Here, we take a look back at what our group from Stirling have achieved, and how heritage settings can be the perfect catalyst for sparking creativity!

Scran: Food for Thought

For aspiring artists, finding inspiration for your work can occasionally be a bit tricky. Sometimes, the answer is right on your doorstep – you just need a little nudge in the right direction.

In preparation of the Leadership Project due in the second half of the Award, our group were given access to Scran – our online learning platform containing over 500,000 images and media from museums, galleries and archives. They each undertook a research task curating Stirling-specific archive content, and this was to enhance their knowledge of the local heritage.

Image of a young person's hand on top of a design for a new heritage trail in Stirling

In order to achieve their Silver Arts Award, the group were required to research Stirling’s heritage.

This was a really valuable fact-finding process, and it let the team think a bit differently about places in Stirling they might normally take for granted.

The team also undertook reviews of cultural sites in their local area. Scran helped facilitate these with partners at the Engine Shed, Stirling Castle, and the Smith Art Gallery and Museum.

Getting hands on: See Think Make!

With this background knowledge of their local heritage, our group were ready to start expressing themselves!

See Think Make, who work to develop Arts Award in Scotland, first started to design the project with Scran in September 2017. We were joining a group of fantastic partner organisations, each bringing something a little different to the project.

The Engine Shed, our building conservation centre, hosted several workshops teaching our young people a range of art forms. There were some really cool sessions on storytelling by Magic Torch Comics, lessons in stop-motion animation from Media Education – and the group even had a go at some soap carving! Staff from Scotland’s Urban Past also played a huge role in running several workshops for our team.

Image of a young artist sketching a group of people at a comics workshop

Workshops gave the group a chance to learn about various art forms – from comics to animation.

Exploring such an array of art forms gave the group a boost of inspiration to take into the all-important arts leadership task in the second half of the project.

The Leadership Project tasked the team with planning, researching, designing and creating a heritage trail through the area of Stirling. It had to take in Stirling’s significant sites, its rich history, as well as its recent past. It gave the group a chance to reflect on what they had learned over the course of the project, and put it all into practice over the course of April.

Heritage Trail with Oswald: The Cat Who Lost the Cream

After a few trips back to the drawing board, it was clear this was going to be trickier than first thought! Who would the heritage journey be for? How could they guide people around the trail? What locations should be on the trail itself? How could different art forms knit the trail together?

Ideas ranged from trails based on biscuits and cakes, the different Doctor Whos – and even types of scientific formula – but it took a while to settle on something that really got the creative juices flowing.

Following their trips to the Smith, our young people finally settled on a rather unexpected lead for their heritage trail. The trail found inspiration from Sir Oswald Clingan Smith – the resident cat at the Smith Museum!

Image of a group of young artists sitting in a small cinema with a row of toy cats in front of them

Sir Oswald Clingan Smith was the inspiration for a fantastic heritage trail!

Creating a story around Oswald was the perfect way to bring everything together. From this, the group were able to use their skills in animation, voice recording, Adobe software, design and problem solving.

After a bit of trial and error, our Arts Award team were finally able to invite an audience to take part in their heritage trail through Stirling. They set off to help Oswald find his stolen milk! Starting at the Engine Shed, the trail went through the Arcade, past the Wallace statue, into the library, ending at the statue of the howling wolf.

Here’s the finished animation our team produced for the trail!

Arts Award in Heritage Settings

During Scotland’s Year of Young People, we’re really keen to engage with fresh audiences. We’re looking at new ways to enjoy the heritage sites we protect, and the digital archives and collections we provide through the likes of Scran.

This was See Think Make’s first foray into using heritage settings for an Arts Award project. Sarah, Producer at See Think Make, thinks it’s the perfect setting for projects in the future:

“The enthusiasm and friendliness within the heritage sector has really blown us away. There’s such a shared ethos of generosity: of time; of spaces; of resources that is really special.

“It has also been an exciting challenge to shift our own practice. We’ve enjoyed using Scran, and Stirling’s heritage, to inform the process. It’s such a rich and fertile environment – ideal for supporting the development of young artists.”

Image of a girl holding a large digital camera during Silver Arts Award

The Stirling project could pave the way for more heritage Arts Awards in the future!

After the success of this initial project, we’re really hopeful of running similar ones soon. For budding artist Alexis, there’s no better way to open your mind artistically:

“I’d definitely encourage others to take part in Arts Award projects. It’s challenging but loads of fun, so you’ll definitely enjoy it! You’ll meet other like-minded young people too. If you’re looking for work and not in education, it’s a great way to add something to your C.V.

“You’ll meet lots of inspiring artists, opening your mind to new artistic practices. And if you enjoy history, it’s definitely for you. Who wouldn’t want to be in a historical and breath-taking place like Stirling?”

Get Involved

Interested in taking the heritage trail created by our Arts Award team? Contact See Think Make for more information!

We’d also recommend you get down to the Engine Shed to see the artwork created by our young people. It’s on display until the end of June – so check it out!

If you’re looking to explore materials from our digital collections, you can access Scran for free through your local library!


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Guest Blog

From time to time we have guest posts from partners, visitors and friends of Historic Environment Scotland.