Press release

‘Capturing Lives in Scotland’s Communities’

Published on 6 July 2020

Young people from across Scotland have been documenting life in their communities in 2020 and how the tumultuous global events of this year have brought changes at local level.

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Young people from across Scotland have been documenting life in their communities in 2020 and how the tumultuous global events of this year have brought changes at local level.

This new art project is led by higher education institutions from across Scotland, including the University of Dundee, and aims to bring together 11-18 year-olds to help create an ‘archive for the future’. Participants were asked to create work in response to art and archival material held in university collections.

The project addresses questions such as – what does life look like today for young people in different communities across Scotland? How do we capture different aspects of life happening in our communities? How has this changed - particularly in light of lockdown and the Covid crisis?

Organised by UMIS (University Museums in Scotland), #CapturingLives2020 takes place until the end of July and is particularly targeted at those from more disadvantaged areas throughout Scotland, encouraging them to explore their local communities using different forms of art.

Participants will learn new art skills, have access to, and be guided through museums online collections and archives, make new social connections across Scotland, and earn an Arts Award Explore qualification – equivalent to an SCQF National 3. In addition, the project will provide mentors for those taking part to further support and encourage them through the programme.

The project brings together online collections and expertise from the Universities of Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Stirling and Glasgow School of Art.

Matthew Jarron, museum curator at Dundee, said, “The University is delighted to be taking part in this project, bringing together our extensive collections with the amazing creativity at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design and tying into our acclaimed pubic art project. We can’t wait to see what the young people come up with.”

Each week explores a different medium of art including photography, landscape painting and public art. Participants will be introduced to the theme by exploring relevant collections items from across the UMIS members and, using these as inspiration, create art pieces of their own using commonly available household items.

Each participant in the project has been assigned a current student as a mentor who will help them complete the activities and who will participate in the weekly discussion group sessions. The aspiration is to display some of the students’ portfolios from the project on University campuses when it is safe to do so, but in the short term the work will be displayed online.

Jacky MacBeath, Convenor of UMIS and Head of Museums at the University of Edinburgh, added, “The University of Edinburgh Museums is delighted to have been instrumental in designing and delivering this important programme.

“Opening up both culture and further/higher education to traditionally under-represented groups is something that all UMIS members are committed to. Also, by working with our UMIS partners we can contribute a far greater selection of materials from across Scotland and ensure that the participants in the programme can make connections with and learn about a wider network of other young people and their communities.”

Sarah Burry-Hayes, Coordinator of UMIS, added. “Normally the Arts Award would require physical visits to venues and exhibitions, but by using our digital collections and archives we can offer this opportunity more widely and specifically tailor this programme to audiences who aren’t traditional museum visitors.

“We’re aware there are so many amazing resources being offered online from museums and galleries at the moment, but by designing a programme involving specific guided sessions and incorporating mentoring, we aim to provide an environment in which the young people feel supported and nurtured to build their confidence and explore their creativity.”




Grant Hill

Senior Public Affairs Officer

+44 (0)1382 384768
Story category Events and exhibitions