Beyond the playground

Mapping Young People’s Perceptions of Urban Play Spaces

Qualitative, arts- and play-based research project
MScR Health Humanities and Arts (University of Edinburgh)
2023

Having learned about various aspects of qualitative, arts-based social research, I developed a dissertation concerned with young people’s perception of ‘playable spaces’ and how the urban environment influences teenager’s play. Collaborating with artist Jude Mckechnie and photographer Martyna Maz, we designed a series of youth workshops involving the local youth club. We made collages, drew maps, built DIY pinhole cameras out of juiceboxes and had exciting conversations around the connections of play and place that made up a rich data pool for the research. The cameras were placed at six different locations in a distinct area of Glasgow, all of importance for the young participants’ play.

The resulting images capture the passing of time and the path of the sun. They also remove anything that moves, for example people, but we can still see a blurry line of parked cars outside of the youth club – cars might get replaced by others but they’re always there. Other highlights include the derelict Govanhill Picture House and mysterious playable public artworks. As part of the dissemination activities, visitors to Govanhill International Festival could pick up postcard copies of the photographs and walk the trail made up by the chosen location.

Many thanks to the young people and play workers at Govanhill Youth Club, Govanhill Baths Community Trust, Culture Collective Scotland, and my collaborators!