Interactive Research! – Niki Black second post

Interactive Research!

The start of July and I’m drawing to the end of my engagement with both the Afterlife of heritage project and my own intense period of data gathering for my PhD research. As the sun continues to shine and the university empties of its undergraduates, my own work load has intensified and the constant battle between the urge (and the need) to engage with my research and the temptation of getting out into the garden rages!

I’m actually very lucky. The events at which I’m engaging the public are my case study festivals, the majority of which take place during the summer. So, I’ve been blessed by this gorgeous weather and can’t complain!

So what can I report?! It’s been very interesting how varied the public response has been, depending on the location of the events, both physically and geographically. Although all events are held predominantly outdoors, I have had a variety of bases, indoor as well as outdoor. The practicalities of setting up an exhibition stand and carrying out paper-based arts activities on a windy day can probably be imagined. The last festival I attended was in a field – beautiful sunshine but quite a stiff breeze. We entertained the adjacent stall holders with our attempts to set up and then eventually had to abandon the art activities as the wind increased or risk losing all our materials round the festival field! When we’d been based indoors, we obviously didn’t have this problem. However, although we’d had a good response to the bunting making indoors, it was much harder to engage with the public in interview and discussion. Interesting!

Very varied response from the public and certainly not always what was expected. It goes to show as a reminder to try not to judge a book by its cover! Some of whom I presumed would be the least ‘likely-to-be-engaged’ members of the public, turned out to have a huge amount of interest and interesting things to say. And vice-a-versa.

Off to my final event this weekend which I hope will come off well.

Niki Black, PhD Researcher  (ICCHS, Newcastle University)

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