Heritage Site


This art and archaeology project works with the Five Sisters shale bings in West Calder and the story of Westwood House buried beneath. At the project’s heart is an Edwardian photographic postcard of the house and the memories of Isabella Mason Kirk, who once lived there.

Heritage Site was realised through Cycle 10 Alt-w Production Award and a series of essential collaborations. Members of the Calder History Group shared their knowledge of people, history and place. Artist Clara Ursitti created a pungent and evocative olfactory intervention working with speculative fiction and memory. From the Glasgow School of Art Stuart Jeffrey, Research Fellow in heritage visualisation, brought a background in archaeology, computer science and digital preservation. The initial creative work of Mike Marriott, artist and lecturer in Visualisation, formed the basis for the point cloud animations of house and bings, created by Clare Graham, a postgraduate student on the MSc in International Heritage Visualisation. Mike’s model also formed the basis for the 1:12 physical model, made by Kevin Thornton.

Heritage Site has brought together artists, heritage visualisation archaeologists and local community members to create a way of imaging what lies underground in both practical and metaphorical senses. It has been exhibited in the show Alt-w, City Art Centre, Edinburgh Arts Festival, 2016; the commemoration event Burngrange70, West Calder, 2017, and in the group show Media Archaeology: Excavations, as part of NEoN Digital Arts Festival, Dundee, 2017. A 2020 version of Heritage Site also featured in the group show Practicing Landscape: Land, Histories and Transformation, Glasgow, 2020.

Alt-w | Heritage Site: From initial research to final exhibition

Heritage Site with Isabella Mason Kirk from Nicky Bird on Vimeo.

Short video documentation of the Heritage Site installation, and audio extract of Isabella Mason Kirk’s story of living in Westwood House in the 1930s

Heritage Site: Animation, 2016 from Nicky Bird on Vimeo.

Animation by Clare Graham, MSc International Heritage Visualisation, Glasgow School of Art, 2016

Heritage Site, 2016

Photographic postcard, photographer R.Braid c.1910
C-type photograph on Dibond, 40 x 135cm
1:12 scale House model
1:12 scale Room furniture
3 scents
Audio 11.53 minutes
Digital Animation 1.40 minutes

Related Posts & Resources

Bird, Nicky. On a Scottish Rural Edge. In: Of the Earth: Art, Photography, Writing and the Environment, Plymouth University, 24-25 October 2014 [conference presentation]

Bird, Nicky & Jeffrey, Stuart. Heritage Site: visualizing an unreachable heritage. 21st European Association of Archaeologists Glasgow 2015, University of Glasgow, 2-5 September 2015 [conference presentation]
Bird, Nicky. Pictures, Places and Living Memory with Annette Kuhn. Queen Mary University of London, London 13 June 2015 [Artist’s talk]

Bird, Nicky. Layered Over. In: Aerial Landscapes, Flat Time House, London, 19 October 2019 [Seminar Event]

TOP IMAGE: Heritage Site by Nicky Bird, 2014.