CultureTECH festival Part 1

So this week the CultureTECH festival is being held in Derry/Londonderry and I was lucky enough to snag one of the early bird passes.  Looking at the festival event list was a bit mind boggling as there is so much on all through the day and then music and social events in the evening, and I would have loved to have enough time to spend the entire week learning more about new technologies and other creative sectors.  I finally narrowed my list of must-sees into the Wednesday conference events, and yesterday my fellow museum geek Rachel and I set off for Derry.  All the events were being held in the city centre, which was a great idea as it would give participants the chance to immerse themselves in the City of Culture buzz and take in some sights while they were there.

We caught the breakfast session “The Culture of Technology” and were rewarded with a bacon bap and a selection of internet cat videos expertly curated by Scott Stulen.  One of the more interesting ways of starting a conference!


Drew Hemmett of Future Everything commented that festivals are a great way to trial new technologies as a living lab, and events like CultureTECH have an emphasis on two way engagement and conversations with the audience.  He believes festivals are the new magazines, and curation is everywhere in blogs, on Pinterest, and all kinds of content in new places, leading to people developing multiple skills rather than specialising in just one area of creativity.  Does this mean there is no longer any need for the traditional curator as we know it?  Drew seems to think so!

Next up was a session on “Digital Innovation in Archive”, hosted by Aidan McGrath of Aetopia, who introduced two projects they have collaborated on, the BT Portrait of a City project based in Derry/Londonderry, and the Lee Miller Archives.  Portrait of a City is creating a digital archive of photographs, film and audio relating to the history and heritage of the city, sharing experiences through images and the stories behind them.  As well as the digital archive the project is equipping volunteers with digital skills, working with the images, and research skills, recording the stories behind the photographs and videos.  Community groups and heritage associations involved are being supported to produce exhibitions, and there are many collaborative projects evolving from the archive, you can find out more at

The second speaker was Ami Bouhassane of the Lee Miller Archive.  I hadn’t heard of Lee Miller before this, but hearing about her fascinating life has inspired a major interest for me.  Lee was an iconic photographer, who started out as a model for Vogue, becoming their war correspondent in London during the Second World War.  Unlike any other female correspondent and photographer she followed the troops to the front line and was there at the liberation of Dachau concentration camp by US soldiers.  After the war she settled in rural England and had her friends, including Picasso and Miro visited and were inspired by her, Lee’s photographic archive was only unearthed by her son after her death.  Ami talked about the difficulties faced in dealing with the archive, from deterioration of the negatives to the sheer volume of interest from the media and museums in using material from the archive.  I found this really interesting, not only from a heritage perspective of the upkeep of the archive and ongoing digitalisation process, but also the story behind the images.  I felt that Ami brought out a real sense of pride in her heritage, and I have added Farley Farm House to my list of places to visit, I think there is something in the Lee Miller story for everyone, fashion, history, photography, art, travel, cookery, and celebrity. You can find out more at

amiKerry Negahban & Ami Bouhassane of the Lee Miller Archive

In the second post from CultureTECH I’ll be looking at the “Remix the Museum” session with Don Undeen, Samuel Bausson, Mar Dixon, and Oonagh Murphy, hosted by Alan Hook.


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