top of page

The Scottish Civic Trust Conference

In December 2019, Thistles & Dandelions spoke at the Scottish Civic Trust (SCT) annual conference. The theme was Race and Heritage in Scotland and the conference formed part of SCT work to advocate for a more diverse Scottish heritage.

We were honoured to speak amongst the incredible list of presenters on the day and such an inspiring series of talks. We especially enjoyed hearing from Lisa Williams, founder of the Black History Walking Tours by the Edinburgh Caribbean Association, about Black Scottish histories and how to talk about and make visible histories that have been hidden in the Scottish landscape.

We also enjoyed learning so much from Davie Donaldson on Scotland’s Travellers’ history and placemaking, and hearing from Councillor Graham Campbell about projects and initiatives that have been working towards reparative justice and an organised remembering of the UK’s colonial and imperial legacy, and how key the cultural heritage sector is to raising awareness and acknowledgement.

It was great to find out about so many initiatives and projects working within the Scottish heritage sector.

Lunch Discussion

Throughout the day our group made two contributions. The first being during the lunch break, where we hosted an open discussion centred around one of our favourite topics: food! We encouraged conference attendees to bring along their lunch and join us for a chat where we each shared personal dishes, and the ways they connected us to people and places.

The Thistles & Dandelions project is about opening up heritage spaces, like galleries and museums, and a strand of this is also about opening up ‘heritage’ itself, encouraging our group to decide for themselves what is heritage, how to celebrate it and discuss it. While Covid-19 has restricted our visiting museums and institutions, we have had the opportunity to look at where else heritage happens, and during our first block of workshops we spent time looking at heritage at home, and personal ways we think about heritage and themes of identity and culture. Read our blog post about the exhibition we created on this theme with GoMA.

Some of us have found food to be a great way to work with these themes as well. In workshops we have thought about how food becomes personal practices of heritage, and is often categorised as intangible heritage but is also something very day-to-day and a very tangible way to make us feel connected to different homes or people.

We so enjoyed hearing about everyone’s recipes and memories that came up in the conversation, from hearing about biryani, lentil soup, whole roast artichokes, and Hebridean Guga. We also really enjoyed seeing these recipe cards shared on twitter afterwards.

Thanks to everyone who contributed in the conversation and especially to Iram, Anemay and Lana, the T&D volunteers who facilitated the lunch.

T&D Presentation

Later on in the day we also gave a presentation on the Thistles & Dandelions project overall. We talked about our programme of talks and workshops, and some of the projects and outputs we are working on, like our Careers Fair, personal development material and heritage trails.

T&D volunteers Hina, Manar and Cat also spoke about their experiences with the project, about gallery visits, women’s history talks, curating their own objects for exhibition and what they hoped to gain from the project. “because you’re getting workshops delivered by curators who are doing the job, it’s really helpful because you’re getting information directly from the source… its been really interesting to take my academic knowledge and to be able to add a physicality onto it.” Cat “a good source for women to learn new and different things” “I have said to myself that I need self-confidence in a lot of things like talking, understanding more of life and what people have to say.” Hina “To get to know new friends from different backgrounds and cultures. We get to know each other, talk to each other, and become inspired by each other…No one can stop you from achieving your goals, no one has the right to underestimate you.” Manar

The conference was attended by more than 100 people and our volunteers made great contributions to the day. For many presenting at this scale was a first time and a great achievement.

Moreover, earlier in the year some members of the T&D group took part in a community consultation with SCT helping to inform their Strategy to Address Racism within the heritage sector. We appreciated the opportunity to discuss ideas and suggestions for recruitment processes and the types of events and programming we would like to see.

A huge thanks to our group of women for the time and effort they give. Having a more diverse range of people within every level of the heritage sector, adds to what stories get told and who engages with it. We would like to thank the SCT for having us at the conference and to Nicky Imrie for all her work.

You can watch all of the sessions including ours from the conference here.

SCT also currently run the Diverse Heritage project which particularly welcomes project ideas from BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Colour) – so get in touch with their Diverse Heritage Officer.


bottom of page