Making the invisible visible through creative expression of mental wellbeing in land and sea communities in Scotland

Funded by the Scottish Universities Insight Institute (SUII), the programme embraced a transdisciplinary approach using design complexity to create new modes of expression to address, communicate, and share the hidden challenges of people experiencing or affected by mental ill-health in remote and rural areas of Scotland, spanning from land-based to maritime communities. Bringing together the expertise of The Innovation School, The Glasgow School of Art and Design Informatics, Edinburgh College of Art. The Design Informatics team was led by Chris Speed, Zezhong Wang and Benjamin Bach.

‘Creative Communities’ aimed to understand and explore ways in which the resilience of rural communities and the wellbeing of individuals can be enhanced if mental health issues were expressed, shared and addressed more widely. Lived experience was placed at the core of the programme, enabling ‘voice’ and visibility around the challenges in rural communities.

Using an evolved ‘Flourish’ process (applied in previous SUII funded programmes) that is enhanced through Complexity Design and perspectives from several disciplines, ‘Creative Communities’ resulted in a range of co-created expressive outcomes that begin to make visible the experiences of rural mental health and wellbeing. The Flurry’s were led by different practitioners including Flurry 2 which was left by Chris Speed & Zezhong Wang from Design Informatics. More details below:


Data comics for data-driven storytelling are inspired by the visual language of comics and aim to communicate insights in data through visualizations. While comics are widely known, data comics offer an accessible and tangible form to turn data sets into illustrated stories that articulate the challenges of well being in rural settings.

Participants worked in groups to create two data comics.

The ‘What ingredients make you, you?’ comic was developed using the insights from the workshop and supported with data from Highland Pride, combined with data from Stonewall and the Scottish Equalities Network.


For more information and to learn about the whole project visit