This paper addresses negotiated human and non-human agencies during a project to provide ‘inanimate’ designed and crafted objects to operate as tour guides in a site of heritage tourism. It approaches these agencies from perspectives informed by neo-vitalism, Jane Bennett’s ideas about ‘vibrant matter’ and recent discussions around phenomenology. It seeks to engage how things might have effective presence over and beyond the descriptions, reproductions and affects they generate in humans. It begins to ask what might happen if such a presence were recruited as a tour guide, navigating the materiality, narratives and metaphors of a heritage site for a human visitor. In the paper we have approached these issues through an experimental project to create a tour guided by objects that we call ‘things-meanings’. The site for this tour was the early twentieth century Castle Drogo designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, now a National Trust property in Devon (UK) and popular tourism venue. The paper describes how the objects were designed, fabricated and produced, particularly in relation to choices around materials, and the interweaving of materials with narratives and metaphorical discourses already at work on the site.

Publication Date


Publication Title

PCA - Craft in an Expanded Field

Organisational Unit

School of Art, Design and Architecture