Invisible Palace Case Study


A2i produced tactile diagrams for Invisible Palace, as part of their project called Secrets of the Sculptures, a walking trail of unexplored artworks in Crystal Palace Park.

Project info

About Invisible Palace

Invisible Palace are a charity that host a plethora of activities, from gardening to historical research projects, in which local people can volunteer as part of a wider group. Similar to A2i, Invisible Palace champion values such as accessibility and inclusivity. They are based in South East London and work closely with the following boroughs: Bromley, Croydon, Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham.


Invisible Palace Logo. The words 'Invisible Palace' are shown in green capital letters with 'Invisible' positioned directly above 'Palace'


How A2i and Invisible Palace worked together

 Earlier this year, Invisible Palace commissioned A2i to create a set of 3 tactile diagrams for their project: Secrets of the Sculptures, a walking trail of unexplored artworks in Crystal Palace Park.

The arts trail, which started in September 2021, was the product of over a year of research by local volunteers who gave their thoughts on the sculptures in Crystal Palace Park.

Invisible Palace kindly agreed to take part in this Q&A, in which we talked about their charity, their project and A2i’s tactile diagrams.


Q: What kinds of research and creative work did your volunteers undertake as part of the project: Secrets of the Sculptures?

 A: Initially research volunteers worked remotely through online meetings, sharing their findings on Trello and working as a team. Members of the group also visited the London Metropolitan Archives. Detailed work was undertaken tracking down, collating and analysing old photographs.

A group of women volunteers took up a design challenge to produce a heritage trail booklet sharing the stories of the statues. This team made use of feedback gathered from participants on museum visits and heritage trail test walks. The women experimented with imagery, iconography, and text to determine a design style and create content for the booklet.

A group of learning-disabled volunteers took advantage of their free time during the summer of 2022 to take part in visits and workshops that enabled them to learn about the park statues and their story. The volunteers used this learning to interpret the heritage trail and create an accessible board game for all ages.

A board game with orange and purple squares going from 1 to 50 creating a wiggly path. There are images of statues at regular intervals.


Q: Why is it important for your volunteers to work as a team and take part in collective activity? 

 A: Volunteers told us that working as part of a team was a rewarding experience. Being a researcher can be lonely but working as a group then sharing that work with others was completely different. Each group was surprised by what they were able to achieve by working together.

On the trail, visitors were given a walking trail booklet made by the volunteers containing photos, illustrations, collages, and descriptions of the statues. Some of the many statues featured in the booklet included Guy, the gorilla, The Hollow Woman, The Sphinxes, and many more.

A page from the booklet, showing Guy the Gorilla statue and information about it.


Q: Why did you decide to incorporate different mediums of art, such as collage, illustration, and poetry in the booklet?

 A: Sometimes the way heritage is explained can be a bit dry and these days people are pushed for time. We wanted to make something that would share information at a glance, those who are interested can read more. We also found some really fun stories too and there need to be space for them.

A page from the booklet, showing the Sphinx statue and information about it.


Q: You call your walking trail the ‘the unexplored artworks in Crystal Palace Park’, what do you think makes the artworks ‘unexplored’?

 A: Crystal Palace Park has some very famous statues known as ‘the Dinosaurs’ though not all of them are dinosaurs. These are often photographed and get featured in newspapers and TV. The statues we looked at are never mentioned. One of the comments we got a lot from people who took part was they had walked past one or other statue many times but never thought why it was there or what the history was.

The booklets acted as a point of conversation and exchange: Visitors could read what volunteers thought about the statues and share their own thoughts and reflections.


Q: In your walking trail booklet, there are questions, in orange text, for visitors to answer as they come across each statue. How did visitors react to these prompts?

A: Most of those questions in orange are things that we were asked or told during the research and design phase. The answer in some cases is subjective, at other times these provide the opportunity for a mindful moment. The answer is there and can be discovered by looking, listening or touching.

A2i’s tactile diagrams were of the Psyche, ‘the beautiful Greek goddess of the soul or spirit.’ Drawn by transcriber Rosie Merrell.

Tactile diagram drawing of 3 statues, produced by A2i.


Q: How did you decide which statue to have transcribed into a tactile diagram?

A: We commissioned three artists to run creative sessions inspired by the research, booklet, and board game. Artist Fae Kilburn works with access at the heart of her practice. She was inspired to run a tactile printmaking workshop about the statue of Psyche.
We used the tactile diagrams as a resource in this workshop.

The tactile diagrams have since been created into products such as tote bags and t-shirts available for purchase.

With much excitement A2i ordered our own tote, as you can see below, ready to show off our team’s hard work and to help fund further arts and heritage-based initiatives by the Invisible Palace. 


Get your own tactile diagrams!

To find out how A2i can help you make your diagrams, graphs or maps accessible, get in touch – we’re happy to help!

Contact our friendly team for more information, or to request a quote.

Tactile diagram drawing of 3 statues, produced by A2i.
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