Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival

Tales of Things will be taking part in this year’s Scottish mental Health Arts and Film Festival. This will relate to our work with the National Museum of Scotland which we launched in April this year. At the Museum we have tagged 80 objects with QR codes in the Scotland: A Changing Nation Gallery. Each of these QR codes links to extra content on the objects and most importantly we are asking the public to add their own tales to the codes. We will be running 2 workshops at the museum in October to gather people’s tales and add these to the Museum’s collection. One of these workshops is in association with CAPS and their Oor Mad History project, details of the projects below.

Making Memories Workshop

Date: Sun 9 October
Time: 13:00-16:00
Suitable for: Everyone
Cost: Free

Take part in a unique storytelling workshop, making memories about something that is important to you or your family. Bring your own object – it could be a teapot, a toy or a photograph. Using audio and video, we collect stories to create a digital archive of memories. 

To book a place or for further information contact Jane Macdonald tel: 0131 221 6187 or email:

Oor Mad History goes to the Museum in Tales of Things

Date: Mon 17 October
Time: 14:00-16:00
Suitable for: Age 16+
Cost: Free, booking required

Join the Oor Mad History community project as we take the Tales of Things tour at the National Museum of Scotland and afterwards join a discussion-based workshop around the themes of objects, stories, mental health and history.  All welcome, particularly people with experience of using mental health services.

For further information contact Kirsten Maclean at CAPS Advocacy by email:

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Wester Hailes Memory Booth

On Saturday we took our now familiar memory booth (or white shed!) out to the Canal Festival in Wester Hailes, Edinburgh.  Chris Speed is working with the local community there on another project called Community Hacking (AHRC funded project) which is part of Connected Communities.

“The Community Hacking project is interested in exploring the extent to which parallels between virtual society (Internet) and actual society (communities) may be extended in such a way that helps make sense of both the opportunities and risks of the Big Society for communities. Specifically we will explore a concept of Community Hacking, the capacity for individuals within groups to develop creative social solutions that transgress established protocols for the betterment of their lives.” (Chris Speed)

One of the outcomes of this project will be a pilot totem pole which will act as a medium for people’s stories of the local community but also post job offers, opportunities and news for the local area. The pole will do this by offering various portals such as a text messaging system, Blackberry Messenger and of course using Tales of Things technology.

Although Wester Hailes is a relatively new neighbourhood (only being built in the 1970s) there remains a big community spirit. A number of schemes were set up a few years ago to help rid the area of its bad reputation with many residents being unemployed and crime rates above average. The community organized its own Fun Run, Carnival and had a community newspaper called the Sentinel. Most of these things stopped in the 1990s though leaving a gap in the neighbourhood. Prospect Housing and WHALE Arts are battling against this though and you can now find drama groups, art classes, photography groups to join to name just a few. I was lucky enough to attend Prospect’s AGM last week to hear about the social history work they are doing and to tell local residents more about Tales of Things. Prospect inherited the Sentinel newspaper’s photograph archive which holds thousands of images of the local area. You can see many of these photos and their recent work on their excellent Facebook page and Blog. Eoghan Howard is one local resident who holds the torch for many projects with a strong interest in social history and plans to create a history map of the local area.

The memory booth event was the second that we have done in Wester Hailes so far with the first event being part of the council’s Learning and Information Fair in the local shopping centre, Westside Plaza. The event was intended to make people more aware of what QR codes are as we are planning on putting the codes up in various locations in the next coming months. Caroline from Prospect Housing kindly provided us with some photos from the Sentinal newspaper of days gone by, such as those of the Venchie Playgrounds , Fun Run , demolition of Westburn high-rises to make way for Westburn village. If you have any connections to the Wester Hailes area please do add to these stories. Watch this space for more details on totem poles and other activities over the next couple of months.

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Coded Moments Exhibition

Simone O’Callaghan’s exhibition Coded Moments, using QR codes, opened tonight (Aus time) at the Foyer Gallery, Victoria University in Melbourne. The use of QR codes in handcrafted print-based artworks seeks to mediate intimacy via mobile phone, between the viewer and artist through shared experiences. The works also facilitate exploring notions of co-presence (being in 2 places at once) and the continuum of physical to digital spaces that objects can inhabit. Supported by the Australian Print Council, Arts Victoria and Victoria University,  It is on until the 30th of September as part of Australia’s Month and Print and the IMPACT7 Conference. So if you are in Melbourne make sure you pop along, it is worth a look!

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Recent TOTeM Press

The Curiosity Shop in Selfridges has been getting a bit of publicity again recently due to it being featured in PSFK’s Future Of Retail Report. This was one of our projects we did with Oxfam back in April this year, so it is great it is still getting some attention! Check out the articles in Mashable, ECOSalon and the Toronto Star for more information.
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TOTeM at Postdigital Encounters – Who Might We Be..?

In a few hours, we’ll be running a TOTeM workshop at the Journal of Media Practice‘s Postdigital Encounters symposium at the Watershed Media Centre, Bristol.

Whereas most previous TOTeM workshops have focused on generating and showcasing object memories, Who Might We Be..?, led by Angelina Karpovich, will take a closer look at the “story potential” inherent in objects, and the assumptions and associations which objects might prompt about their owners.

Follow the workshop on Twitter at #postdigi and #talesofthings.

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RememberUs at Future Everything

We were part of Future Everything in Manchester again this year for RememberMe part 2- RememberUs. This time we took over 2 Oxfam shops; the Oxfam
 Emporium and Oxfam Originals in the Northern Quarter of Manchester. The Oxfam Emporium featured our white shed “memory booth” (as seen at the National Museum of Scotland in April) where we spent 4 days gathering visitors’ stories through audioboo. We had a selection of blank objects, painted white and unbranded to create a generic signifier for the object itself. This meant that people were free to add any stories they liked to the objects, putting the emphasis on the memories rather than the objects themselves. At the end of the 4 days we gathered a lot of great stories from memories of traveling, looking cool in that first pair of jeans through to the trouble of kissing with sunglasses on! Once these stories were attached to a QR tag people could visit the Oxfam Originals store to pick up a memory. Every time someone bought a pair of jeans for example they would be given a QR tag loaded with other people’s memories. You can still go down to the Oxfam Original’s store and scan the tags with your Smartphone and if you buy a pair of jeans or a necklace, the lovely Oxfam volunteers will stick a code on it so that you can become the new gatekeeper of these memories and add your own tale too.

So if you would like to buy into the memory economy and help raise money for Oxfam head down to Oxfam Originals, 51 Oldham Street, Manchester M1 1JR

To view all the stories visit the RememberUs group, look out for Michael’s jacket story about a great New Order gig and Mike’s first pair of trendy jeans to name just a few.


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Give us a story!

Pop inside the Oxfam Emporium shop and tell us a story about one of the objects on our shed: jeans, shoes, hats, bags etc.

Your story will then be attached to this ‘thing’, and if anyone buys a similar thing in the Vintage /Originals shop along the street they will be given a special barcode that lets them listen to your and everyone else’s story.

Proving that a rolling stone can actually gather moss!

The project is part of Future Everything:

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Oxfam Curiosity Shop

We are very pleased to announce our latest partnership with Oxfam for their Curiosity Shop in Selfridges, London. The Curiosity Shop opens tomorrow (1st April to the 10th of April) and here you will find a host of fantastic fashion on sale. All of the items have been donated to raise money for Oxfam to help fund projects around the world that support and empower vulnerable women.

The clothing donated has some very respectable previous owners such as Annie Lennox, Colin Firth, Helen Mirren, Kate Moss, list goes on…Each item in the shop has been tagged with a QR code which links to stories about what the money raised will buy.

There are some hidden gems in the collection too which have a unique story attached to them from the celebrity who donated the item such as this dress which Annie Lennox wore  at Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday party in London. 

Visitors to the Curiosity Shop can view these stories on their own Smartphones or use one of our bespoke RFID readers to scan the item. Once the item has been scanned the object story will appear on a plasma screen in the store, making the object come alive.

So make sure that you visit the Shop in Selfridges to grab a celebrity item tagged with their story but also most importantly to help raise money for Oxfam!

You can see a list of donated items on the tales of things site.

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Object Storytelling Workshop



Tales of a Changing Nation at the National Museum of Scotland

“We used to have a car like that…I remember the first TV we ever had…” If you have ever wandered round the galleries and spotted something from your childhood or an object has sparked a memory, then help us to add to the museum’s collections with your story.

On the 16th of April we will be holding an object storytelling workshop and inviting you to take in something from your home that relates to the Scotland: A Changing Nation Gallery. There are a host of objects in the gallery such as a Bakelite TV set, Harry Potter novel, Trainspotting poster, welder’s kromar hat, oil rig model, tweed and jute samples, wringer, and an ultrasound unit. The workshop will help to create a valuable resource for the museum in the form of a unique oral history project. Once your story has been recorded your objects will be photographed and then tagged” using QR codes (bar codes) to link to the relevant object in the museum; creating a growing network of people’s histories.

Outline of the day:

1pm              Introduction to project by Chris Speed (ECA)

1.30pm         Visit to gallery and museum

2pm              Tea/coffee

2.15pm         Object storytelling through film

3.30pm         Story exchange

4pm               Close


Minto House (across from the National Museum of Scotland)University of Edinburgh
20 Chambers Street
Edinburgh, EH1 1JZ

So whether you worked in the fishing or ship-building industries or simply remember the first time you used a telephone or MP3 player, why not come along?

To book a free place or for more information please contact Tel: 0131 221 6187 or visit

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Tales of Things at the Museum

We are delighted to announce a collaboration with the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. The project will launch on the 9th of April 2011 as part of the Edinburgh International Science Festival.

As part of the Science Festival celebrations, members of the tales of things team (9- 11 April) will have a display in the foyer of the Museum with anonymous white objects such as an iPod, Harry Potter book and dancing shoes which are linked to objects in the museum. Visitors are invited to stick their own memories (using QR codes) onto these blank objects which will be featured on the website.

In addition to this we will also be running a workshop on the 16th of April for people that might notice some similarities between objects they see in the gallery to those they have at home. If you worked in the fishing or ship building industries for example take in your objects and add them to the Museum’s virtual collection!

Tales of Things will also be available in the Scotland: A Changing Nation gallery, where we have selected 80 objects featuring a QR code linking to additional information about the objects, such as films from the Scottish Screen Archive. This has all been possible thanks to students at Edinburgh Napier University who have been helping us to gather archival material, a lot of which has not been shown in the museum before. Scotland: A Changing Nation looks at Scotland’s history in the 20th and 21st centuries and so a lot of objects are within people’s living memory. We’d like to invite you to add to the history of these objects by adding your own experience to the codes. The QR codes will remain in the gallery until the 31st of October 2011, giving you plenty of time to take part.

For more information on the free workshop on the 16th of April contact

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