Associated with Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

Exhibitions in June 2018

Two exhibitions were staged on consecutive days over the 16th and 17th June at an allotment grower’s conference in Dunblane and at a community centre in Granton, Edinburgh. These exhibitions represent a milestone as all of the elements of our exhibition finally came together and were presented as envisaged by the co-creation group.

The two locations were in quite different communities. Dunblane is an affluent middle class small town and Granton is among the most deprived areas of Scotland. The exhibition consisted of a large (2.4m wide x 2.2m high) eye-catching display panel that gave an introduction to food security (in a Scottish context) and to a technique we have used with small groups of up to six people called digital storytelling.

 Alongside the display a set of tablet devices with headphones provided the people attending the exhibition with the opportunity to listen to digital stories. At the time of the exhibition 16 stories were available, but more are in production.

The simple message conveyed on the display is that Scotland has a reputation for producing high quality food and yet not everyone has access to this produce due to a variety of barriers. With commitment from Scottish Government to consult on a Good Food Nation Bill the aim of the BigPicnic project at RBGE has been to give a voice to people who have experienced barriers to accessing nutritious food.

Participants listening to digital stories at RBGE exhibition

Photo credit: Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

The compact and lightweight design means the exhibition can easily be taken to a variety of venues including community centres and cafes. The entire exhibition can be packed into the boot of a car and can be set up in less than 30 minutes. Supervision of the exhibition also means that conversations can be had with the public and feedback on the digital stories and food security issues can be gathered via short questionnaires.

The purpose of the exhibitions was to properly test the system devised for making video available to play on demand. We also wanted to gather data on the impact of digital stories as a medium for helping people to engage with food security. This was done through use of a short questionnaire.

 Between the two exhibitions we estimate that 65 people engaged with the content through viewing the display, listening to stories and talking to the team of three who supervised the exhibition. Of this number, 25 people completed the questionnaire. The people supervising were Andy Crofts, Max Coleman and Pauline Munch - an MSc student conducting a research project about storytelling as a medium for engagement with food security.

The exhibitions were both regarded as a success. A technical issue was identified with the video delivery system that did not interfere with the experience of visitors in any significant way, but was something to be resolved for the future. At both exhibitions it quickly became obvious that people found the digital stories to be engaging. The time spent viewing stories showed us that multiple stories were being viewed by individuals. These stories were thought provoking for people as many wanted to discuss issues with us and were often willing to complete the questionnaire.

A secondary impact was that the methods used were shared with an audience of people who may then go on to adopt them in other work. Our next steps involve running a series of further exhibitions at appropriate local community venues as suggested by our co-creation team. In addition, we hope to run an exhibition at a more high-profile venue where we may be able to invite decision makers and other influential people.