Re-boot: Uncovering Exeter’s layers of history

The Re-boot project, was a city-wide; multi generational, collaborative and interactive project that had the heritage of Exeter’s Cathedral Green, the old parish of St Martin’s and the surrounding buildings, events and stories at its heart.

The initial inspiration for the project came about due to the tragic fire at The Royal Clarence Hotel in October 2016. This event raised the interest and profile of this particular area of the city and provided a natural spring board for creative work to be developed. It offered an opportunity to explore and uncover some of the hidden stories and artifacts, as well as the history and memories of not only the hotel but also the surrounding area.

Daisi designed the project to offer a creative and exciting way for local children and young people to respond, reflect and look forward, in relation to the historical buildings of Exeter. To the changing face of the city centre, the relevance and importance of buildings and places of interest, as well as how to showcase the city centre to visitors to Exeter.

The Re-boot project collaborated with 5 local artists working in a range of traditional and digital art making processes, to explore some of the heritage of Exeter and its hidden treasures. Local historian Dr Todd Gray worked with and shared his knowledge of the hidden heritage of the area known as St Martin’s Island, with the artists. This included the Cathedral yard, St Martins Church and the high street from St Martins Lane to Broadgate, this gave the initial inspiration for the artists to develop their own workshops.

Over the school year 2017 – 2018, the artists worked in a range of formal and non formal settings, including primary, secondary, further education and special schools as well as Brownie groups, The Cathedral, The Pelican Project, St Nicholas Priory and The Atkinson School.

Over 480 children and young people worked to produce a range of work inspired by the stories and artifacts of Exeter’s hidden heritage. The final art work was created using elements of all the work produced, layering different elements to create a collage of different scenes, this approach also echoes the theme of how history overlaps and stories are intertwined.

The final art work was also embedded with AR (Augmented Reality) coding and additional artwork, videos and stories could be accessed through using your phone.

Examples of work from the different workshops can be viewed here

Chris Jelley – Creative writing workshops, virtual poetry trials and hydrophobic poems.

Poems magically appearing outside Exeter Library

Examples of some of the creative writing can be seen here

Monica Shanta Brown – Apothecary spell books, creative writing and animated Gifs

View the animations and Gifs, that were created as part of this project by the young people who worked with Artist Monica Shanta-Brown.

Cara Roxanne – The Parish of St Martin’s, the buildings and their uses. Pyrography pens and miniature buildings

Tanya Morel – print and animation. How will you be remembered and what would you protect?

Tanya Morel’s print and animation workshops at Redhills Primary School
Tanya Morel’s Print and animation workshop at Stoke Cannon Primary School

James Lake – House gods – what is important to you and what would you want to protect?

The Public Exhibition and Display

In October 2018 there were public exhibitions of the art work produced during the workshops. The children and young people involved in the project, as well as the thousands of visitors to Exeter could see the artwork displayed in shop windows on Paris Street in Exeter and at St Stephen’s Church on Exeter’s High Street. The exhibition included digitally produced images that incorporate Virtual Reality (VR) coding, allowing the viewing public to scan the images and discover more art work and information.

All the visual art work was compiled together to create a large scale window display. The drawings, prints, masks, animations and sketches, created a street scene and the Apothecary shop. Within the display were hidden images and videos that could be seen through using the AR App.

Information panels were created for the exhibitions, giving background details to the project and the heritage that inspired the artwork.

In St Stephen’s Church, an exhibition of some of the physical art work was displayed. Along with 6 pull up banners, that had been created by layering the visual artwork, all 6 banners were embedded with AR coding, so that the viewer could interact and find out more hidden work.

“The children had their own individual artwork at the end of it, James had clearly prepared everything that they needed so they felt very special and involved and it was all about them!” Comment from a teacher at St Sidwells

“A truly great and memorable display of different approaches from the different groups of Exeter’s primary schools artwork and appreciation of their city!”
Comment from a visitor to the St Stephen’s Church exhibition.

“My class took part, making one of the recipe books. It’s lovely to see them being displayed in this space.”
Comment from a young person who participated in the project and visited the exhibition. 

Listen to some of the children and their responses to the fire at the Royal Clarence.

Artists – find out more about each artist here

Chris Jelley – Poet Technologist

Tanya Morel – Visual Artist

Cara Roxanne – Visual Artist

Monica Shanta Brown – Visual Artist

James Lake –  Sculptor

Schools and groups that were involved and contributed to the artwork:

St Luke’s Science and Sports College                   Exeter College

Redhills Community Primary                                 Ide Primary

St Sidwell’s Primary                                                 Kenn C of E Primary

Kenton Primary                                                         Clyst St Mary Primary

Stoke Canon C of E Primary                                   Whimple Primary

Doddiscombesleigh Primary                                 WESC Foundation

Atkinson                                                                      The Pelican Project

Libraries Unlimited                                                  St Nicholas Priory

Exeter Cathedral                                                      10th Exeter Brownies

Re-boot is a daisi project supported by The Heritage Lottery Fund, Babcock LDP,  Exeter City Council and Tozers Solicitors.