BRLSI Artifact Trails
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Team of Bath Spa Visual Communication students design innovative “artifact trails” around Bath

Thursday, 1 July, 2021

A series of digital “artifact trails”, featuring objects from the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution (BRLSI) will be created by a team of five MA Visual Communication students.

The trails lead users to BRLSI’s home in Bath city centre, and the objects themselves, each of which is now on public display for the first time.

Part of the Forward to the Future project, the students will be working with Professor of Illustration Tim Vyner and Rupert Bassett, Associate Lecturer in Graphic Design.

“The students have produced digital trails that will connect visitors and residents to four significant objects held by BRLSI,” Vyner said. “The trails are part of a smartphone app that tracks each object’s history and connections to Bath through storytelling, navigational directions, a series of collages and other clues.”

The project began as a hypothetical campaign created for BRLSI as part of the students’ MA Visual Communication course. When BRLSI was awarded funding through the Art Fund’s Respond and Reimagine programme, they invited the students to further develop the project and make it a reality. The trails have now just launched and are available through the BRLSI’s Bath Discovery Trails app on Apple’s App Store and Google Play.

Nicky Stevens, one of the collaborators, said: “It has been a fascinating journey, learning about the amazing collection of rare and obscure artefacts held at the BRLSI. The opportunity to bring this project to fruition and introduce the Bath community to this little known local treasure is both exciting and rewarding.”

Isabel Hurley, another of the collaborators, said the project allowed her to use a range of creative techniques to respond to significant periods of history.

“What excites me is that I’m part of helping periods of history to live on, to create interest in them and engage a new audience,” she said. “It has changed the way I see the city of Bath and its landscape; I have a deeper understanding of the memorials, buildings and public spaces which stand the test of time.”

Talking about how the group worked together to create the project, Nicky continued, “As a group of artists, designers and illustrators we all have very different styles and approaches to our work. This project has been a classic example of how the bringing together of a diverse set of individuals and skills has enabled the project to extend beyond its original vision.”

Students Rosie Yates, Maidei Kambarami and Edna Monteiro also contributed to the project.

Renée Binyon from TrailmakerPRO™, who worked closely with the design team to develop the app, said: “We were delighted to work with BRLSI and Bath Spa University to pilot our new trail app platform to provide a bespoke, licensed app which gives visitors to the city a unique and engaging way to interact with the BRLSI collection.”

The project is supported by the Art Fund and a private foundation, the M. St J Way Charitable Trust, and is designed to help BRLSI in revitalising their mission to share knowledge and stimulate exploration of science, literature, and the arts, post-COVID.

Bath Spa University and BRLSI are long-standing partners, with the University being formally represented on BRLSI's Board of Directors. BRLSI’s mission has been the public promotion and advancement of science, literature and the arts since its formation in 1824. Its collections span 4.2 billion years, containing more than 150,000 artefacts, specimens, books, and documents from around the world.

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