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Bonfire Dog is a narrative design, interpretation and digital consultancy, working with:

  • national museums, galleries and archives;
  • videogames companies;
  • schools, universities and research bodies;
  • charities and design studios;
  • heritage sites and landscapes.

Our projects interpret heritage collections and landscapes, advocate for governmental policy change, develop new audiences and new understandings of complex social issues, create innovative artistic interventions, and research and implement new approaches to the act of telling stories across media, disciplines and industries.

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In Partnership With... A member of the Museum Freelancer's Association. ATS Heritage PiC Media Community Network Jam Creative The British Library The Bothy Project Elbow Productions Iiyama The Museum Of Witchcraft And Magic The Royal College of Art Shelter UK The Woodland Trust
Swansea, Wales
London, England

Tel: +77 7860474580
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Bonfire Dog is a narrative design, interpretation and digital consultancy, working with national museums, galleries and archives, international publishers, videogames companies, schools, universities and research bodies, charities and design studios, heritage sites and landscapes and other independent partners. Our projects interpret heritage collections and landscapes, advocate for governmental policy change, develop new audiences and new understandings of complex social issues, create innovative artistic interventions, and research and implement new approaches to the act of telling stories across media, disciplines and industries.

Interdisciplinary design consultancy for the heritage, environmental, academic and not-for-profit sectors.
Website Design
2017 - Present
the lost pubs © Laverne Hunt 2018
Writing & Editing, APIs/Webhooks, Social Media, Web Design, Webmastering, Graphic/Visual Design

We provide a full web design service for smaller charities, heritage organisations, trusts and businesses. This can include conceptual and information design, copywriting and editing, graphic design, social media integration, animations, interactives, database management, ongoing maintenance and webhosting, depending on requirements and budget. All work conforms to the latest standards and innovations in web accessibility, security and responsive design for a wide range of devices.

Clients include:

the lost pubs © Rob Sherman 2019
Bots/Automata, Social Media, Writing & Editing, APIs/Webhooks
A Twitterbot, built with JSON and Tracery, which randomly generates and posts a fake English pub name every six hours. We built this bot in response to the alarming news that a quarter of British pubs have closed since 2001, symbolising an incomparable loss of local and national heritage. The Lost Pubs stands as a small tribute to those establishments which have already gone, and those in danger of closing; endlessly generating new establishments, and their attendant histories embodied by their evocative names, in a futile attempt to replace what is steadily being destroyed.
2015 - 2019
knole © Rob Sherman 2018
Artificial Intelligence, Mixed Reality, Installation Design, Interactive Design, Game Design, Writing & Editing, Research, Academia, Hardware Hacking, Web Design, Residency, Photography, Interpretation, Digital Heritage, APIs/Webhooks, Documentation, Audience Research/Segmentation, Visual Art, Intepretation Planning, Summative Evaluation

An interdisciplinary PhD project, the result of the award of a prestigious SWWDTP scholarship and in collaboration with Bath and Bath Spa universities. A practice-based work that combines academic research and industry development, Knole explores the potential of digital technologies for creating immersive, resonant character-led narratives, in particular for heritage intepretation.

In partnership with the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic in Boscastle, Cornwall, we developed an immersive, mixed-reality installation piece, exploring the social and political contexts of 18th-century England through the fictional narrative of a Yorkshire 'cunning woman' and the supernatural 'familiar spirit' who lives in the walls of her house. The installation, presenting a virtual version of the 'spirit' using artificial intelligence techniques and an array of sensors and props for interacting with visitors, is accompanied by the 'cunning woman's' spellbook, giving instructions on how to use the creature to cure the ills and ailments of a superstitious population.

bothy project© Rob Sherman 2016
Residency, Photography, Writing & Editing, Research
After the award of AHRC funding, we undertook a weeklong residency at the Inshriach Bothy, one of a collection of off-grid living and working spaces across Scotland owned by arts charity The Bothy Project. Alone in the Cairngorms for the week, we embarked on a creative prototyping process, centred around a desire to understand the role of landscape, loneliness and the psychology of solitude in people's relations with place and history. As well as hiking, climbing, writing, swimming, and dodging red deer stags, we produced a continuous paper of scroll of handwritten pseudo-code, workshopping potential digital experiences without access to any digital tools.

Our experience was later written up as a self-reflexive essay.

crossroads of curiosity © British Library 2016
Public Speaking, Installation Design, Public Engagement, Writing & Editing, Music & Performance, Interpretation
We were invited to devise an installation for the Crossroads of Curiosity, the British Library's festival celebrating creative uses of its public domain archive material. Alongside international artists such as David Normal, we presented a 'fictional exhibition' of objects, documents and live-performed music surrounding the life of an invented Arctic explorer; using materials from our CreativeWorks residency at the Library, as well as public domain materials from the Library's digital archives.
woodland trust canopy © Rob Sherman 2018
Workshopping, Public Engagement, Audience Research/Segmentation, Interpretation
We were part of a large consultancy team brought together to create the initial vision for the Woodland Trust's Canopy Project, latterly the Tree Charter: a scheme designed to engage the public in British woodlands and champion their conservation through the collection of thousands of 'tree stories' from across the country. Through a series of workshops, provocations and activities, we developed conceptual processes and methodologies for engaging and educating the public in the narratives of British woodland.
creativeworks london festival © Anatoleya, Flickr 2014
Exhibition Design, Installation Design, Digital Mapping, Music & Performance, Writing & Editing, Public Speaking, Audience Engagement
As part of CreativeWorks London Festival of Ideas, held at King's College London and Somerset House, we were invited to devise installations and exhibitions relating to our work with the British Library. This led to a large exhibitionary space, showcasing objects and documents from our residency, a participatory digital mapping platform to collect geolocated anecdotes and contributions from visitors, and musical performances and lectures in the College's chapel.
Public Speaking
Various Partners
2015 - Present
public speaking © British Library 2015
Public Speaking, Music & Performance, Audience Engagement

We are often invited to deliver lectures and seminars on a variety of subjects, including artistic practice in museums, digital narrative design and virtual heritage. Appearances include:

Teaching & Workshops
Various Partners
2015 - Present
teaching© Rob Sherman 2018
Teaching, Public Speaking, Audience Engagement, Interactive Design, Web Design

We frequently deliver workshops and classes for a variety of audiences, from senior academics to school-age children; teaching narrative, interpretation, interactive design, creative writing and coding. Some of these appointments include:

2014 - 2015
on my wifes back
Audience Engagement, Public Speaking, Research, Music & Performance, Exhibition Design, Writing & Editing, Teaching, Digital Mapping, Audience Research/Segmentation, Intepretation Planning, Evaluation, Web Design, Photography, Hardware Hacking, Visual Art, Interactive Design, Game Design

We were awarded CreativeWorks' Creative Entrepreneur-in-Residence funding, in partnership with the British Library, in order to explore artistic and intepretative practice in conjunction with a London heritage institution. Attached to Lines In The Ice: Seeking The Northwest Passage, the Library's exhibition about polar exploration, we used both research and interpretative/artistic practice to examine the many different ways that the Library's audiences could interact with this exhibition, and with the contested histories which it presented.

Using the narrative framework of a fictional Victorian explorer, we produced a 'parallel exhibition', with both physical and online presence, designed to engage the Library's audiences in new ways. Outputs included handmade books which visitors could read, touch and even deface; found and constructed objects presented as actual historical artefacts; musical recordings and performances; interactive digital maps; seminars and symposia; websites and blogs; hidden web servers in the exhibition space, serving secret documents to curious visitors; online archives and interactive fiction works. We even produced a range of ship's biscuits from original recipes, inked with messages and legends by fictional characters, as an attempt at a form of 'narrato-gastronomics'!

The residency was a huge success, helping Lines In The Ice in extending its term for three months and reaching over 15,000 individual visitors. The residency also formed the focus of a chapter of the exhibition's accompanying book, Exploring The Roof of the World.

spare set © Rob Sherman 2014
Visual Art, Research, Web Design, Audience Research/Segmentation, Storyboarding, Interactive Design, Public Engagement, Writing & Editing, Game Design
A work of online interactive fiction produced in conjunction with housing charity Shelter, as part of their 2014 summer campaign calling for reform of UK welfare payments. Built in response to the shocking statistic that over 50% of UK households would be homeless within three months as the result of a job loss, we proposed this project as a way to overcome powerful social biases against the welfare state and what was perceived as 'scrounger culture'. We used interactive narrative techniques to allow players to make choices on behalf of the protagonist Lucy; exploring her house and its history, her family life and their problems, before allowing players to try (always in vain) to help Lucy keep her home when things inevitably go wrong.

Though fictional, The Spare Set was informed by extensive research in Shelter's archive of case studies, and helped to instil empathy for the charity's beneficiaries during a complex and politically-charged campaign.

a night in sherbeton© Paper Moon 2014
Writing & Editing, Public Engagement, Storyboarding, Audience Research/Segmentation, Teaching

A set of short stories and Key Stage 3 teaching materials developed in conjunction with housing charity Shelter UK. These stories were proposed and written, with illustrations by Paper Moon, to supplement Shelter's annual Gingerbread House Sale run in thousands of UK schools; a scheme in which schoolchildren design, build and sell their own gingerbread houses to raise money for the charity.

We felt that a narrative supplement to the main fundraising activity, telling the stories of the fairytale inhabitants of these houses, would not only inspire creativity on behalf of the children building them, but would also introduce them to Shelter's work; using the characters to appropriately showcase the social problems which Shelter tackles, and providing teaching materials to allow the children's understanding to develop beyond the Sale itself.