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Wastelands: Collective Stories of London

Explore the hidden histories of London and the narratives behind discarded objects in this hands-on workshop.

What to expect

What does the waste of a city reveal about the people who live there?

Using London and its rich histories as a foundation, this project explores the narratives behind discarded objects. Bringing together archaeologists, mud-larkers, museum curators, artists and designers, this workshop asks how we can construct new stories around the discarded objects we find in London, and the significance this has for understanding the city’s histories and possible futures.

In the first part of the workshop, guest-speakers will share their stories of discovering a single item of ‘waste’, with examples ranging from mud-larked artefacts to captured smells. In the second part, participants will work collectively with a range of media to explore how we might use different sensory experiences to tell the stories behind found-objects from London.

This workshop is part of the series ‘From Ground… To Found’, an ongoing research project developed by Mike Thompson (co-founder of Thought Collider), Dr. Hannah Platts, archaeologist and ancient historian from Royal Holloway and the Design Museum. This project aims to investigate the narrative potential of multi-sensory story-telling, and to develop new approaches for co-producing the narratives of discovery behind museum objects.

Wastelands: Collective Stories of London is supported by the Royal Holloway History Department.

Decayed Cassette

Nya Lödöse



Soil closeup

Booking information

Members: Free, booking required
Adult: Free, booking required
Student/concession: Free, booking required


Hannah Platts

Hannah Platts is a Roman historian and archaeologist, who works particularly on multisensory engagement with artefacts and the built environment. Hannah's recent projects include the development of a virtual reality Roman house, which allowed visitors to experience recreated sights, sounds and smells of life in Roman Britain.

Mike Thompson

Mike Thompson is a designer, researcher, and educator, drawn to the dark corners of bio-technological research. Co-founder of experimental, art / design research collective Thought Collider, he is also known as one-half of the design duo building the world’s first floating island of fat – the Fatberg – in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Inês Neto dos Santos

Inês Neto dos Santos is a multi-disciplinary artist based in London. Her practice uses food, people and spaces to question and understand our surroundings and propose new exchanges and discussions. She holds an MA from the Royal College of Art and her work has been exhibited internationally.

Helen Frosi

Helen Frosi is an artist and curator whose work explores sound and ecology. Helen is Director of SoundFjord, a sound-related curatorial research platform, and a visiting research fellow at Goldsmiths.

Dr Kate McLean

Dr Kate McLean is a researcher and designer, and a creator of smellmaps of cities around the world. She works at the intersection of human-perceived smellscapes, cartography and the communication of ‘eye-invisible’ sensed data. She collects data via the 'smellwalk', a sense walk that calls on all senses to apprehend and understand the world, inviting individual agency and openness to the unknown in the construction of place and space.

Supported by

Royal Holloway University

The Royal Holloway is a pioneering university, steeped in history and culture, yet constantly evolving and adapting to the demands of modern higher education.

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Background image | Treasure Amidst The Rubble