Heritage through collage: A participatory and creative approach to heritage making

Maria Abranches, Elena Horton

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Drawing on collages created by residents in Great Yarmouth – a coastal location in the East of England characterised by a prominent history of fishing and current high levels of socioeconomic deprivation – we use a participatory arts-based approach to explore how individuals and communities participate in the making of heritage. Through the process of creating collages that represent the history of the town, and their own history within it, participants choose how to materialise and communicate what we understand as intangible (the stories) and tangible (the collages) heritage, where a sense of place and belonging is preserved or restored. We found that, first, the non-linear nature of collaging, which we see as cultural practice, allowed participants to reconnect with the history of which they are proud to be a part yet felt was ‘lost’ in the transformations that have occurred in the town. Through collage, they were able to layer and juxtapose the different elements of the story in unique ways, with a focus on time, politics and affects. Second, the collages themselves – and their dissemination in various exhibitions through the course of one year – contributed to validate their key role in the creation and communication of heritage.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-102
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal of Heritage Studies
Issue number1
Early online date12 Nov 2023
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024


  • Arts-based methods
  • Coastal transformations
  • Collage
  • Fishing
  • Participatory Heritage

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