Scottish Mental Health Arts & Film Festival

A brief reflection on our recent workshops with the National Museums Scotland and the Consultation And Advocacy Promotion Service during the Scottish Mental Health Arts & Film Festival…

Note: rather than show faces of people that we haven’t got permission from we’ve used coffee cups to represent them!

Christine McLean (Community Engagement Manager, National Museums Scotland) had been wanting to develop community engagement work with mental health service users and providers for some time. “Museums can engage vulnerable people and contribute to well-being through targeted projects aimed at cultural inclusion. Museum collections offer opportunities for interaction with objects to find new cultural forms for personal experience.” (Research Summary: Who Cares? Museums, Health & Wellbeing Renaissance North West)


So this year, when Kirsten Maclean of CAPS (Consultation And Advocacy Promotion Service) approached her to discuss the Scottish Mental Health Arts & Film Festival ( it seemed the right time to pilot activities.

The Festival theme this year was Memories which tied in very well with the Tales of A Changing Nation project being developed by Chris Speed and Jane Macdonald of University of Edinburgh (Edinburgh College of Art), tagging objects in Scotland, A Changing Nation with QR codes. In all, around 70 objects in the gallery were labelled with their own QR code, a unique digital identifier which works in roughly the same way as the barcodes used in retail. Visitors with smartphones can download the Tales of Things app, and then use their phone to scan the QR code on a particular object. This links through to the Tales of Things app and website, where each object has its own online entry with links to a host of resources.

The four of us got together and planned two workshops – one where people were asked to bring in their own objects and share stories and a second with the Oor Mad History project participants exploring wider issues of objects, memories and mental health. We had a great turn out both days and generated lots of interesting and diverse new stories, some of which can be accessed on Tales of Things and below:

Making Memories Workshop – Oor Mad History Workshop


These four audio files were taken during the Oor Mad History Workshop run by Kirsten at CAPS. The workshop explored issues of mental health and history as part of the larger Oor Mad History project and exhibition. These audio files were inspired by a medicine bottle from the Scotland: A Changing Nation gallery:

Alternative therapy (mp3)

TB (mp3)

Vaccinations (mp3)

Medicine (mp3)


Thanks to:

Christine McLean, Community Engagement Manager, National Museums Scotland & Kirsten Maclean, Oor Mad History, Consultation And Advocacy Promotion Service, and Angelina Karpovich, Brunel University.

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