Category Archives: Blog Annemarie

Making Memories Day 2018

On 22 March the Materialising Memories team (and some MM friends) left their offices to embark on their fifth Making Memories Day. Our team outing started in the afternoon in The Rocks, the oldest part of Sydney, for an Urban Hunt (interactive scavenger hunt). We split up in two teams and via an interactive Messenger chat we received questions and cryptic clues. By following these cryptic walking directions and searching for the right answers, we passed small alleys and historical places and facts in The Rocks we had never seen or known before.

After a short Ferry and Light Rail ride we arrived at our dinner place, The Tramsheds. Some more team members joined us here who were not able to attend our afternoon activity. We enjoyed our dinner in a restored Sydney tram.


Live Talk ‘Take Care to Repair’

Last week, Materialising Memories team member Annemarie Zijlema (me) participated in the Disruptive Innovation Festival. She took part in the panel discussion ‘Take Care to Repair’ with moderator Walter Stahel (founder-director of the Product-Life Institute in Geneva). The panel discussed the question how we get people to take care and repair their products, to increase the longevity of products to achieve sustainability. Annemarie talked about why some products are preserved, while others are discarded, from a memory perspective (starting at app. 24:48 minutes). The discussion was broadcasted live, and can be viewed back till 9 December 2017 via the following link:

The session was initiated by and recorded during the PLATE conference (Product Lifetimes and the Environment) at TU Delft. Annemarie presented her paper on ‘preserving objects, preserving memories’ on the role of traces on objects and repair on remembering. The proceedings are published open access on the PLATE website:

Candidature Assessment Stage 3 presentation

On Tuesday 6 June 2017 I (Annemarie) will present my thesis for the Stage 3 Candidature Assessment in the Faculty of Engineering and IT. The presentation is public, and you are welcome to join. The details of the event are as follows:

• Date: Tuesday 6 June 2017
• Time: 10.30AM to 11:30AM (presentation till 11AM, questions till 11.30AM)
• Venue: CCS studio, CB.11.06.402 (UTS FEIT)
Degree: Joint PhD UTS and TU/e (Eindhoven University of Technology, the Netherlands)

Supervised by: Professor Dr Elise van den Hoven MTD (UTS and TU/e), and Professor Dr Ir Berry Eggen (TU/e and Adj Prof UTS)

Panel Chair:
Dr Sam Ferguson (UTS)
Assessor 1: Professor Dr Ir Kees Dorst (UTS)
Assessor 2: Professor Dr Amanda Barnier (Macquarie University)

Thesis Title: 
Cuing autobiographical memories by external memory cues in the personal environment


The encounter with personal possessions in everyday life, such as souvenirs, jewellery, or digital photos, can bring the past back to mind. Sometimes cuing a quick and fleeting memory, other times it brings back vivid and emotional responses. The research presented in this Candidature Assessment investigated the item-memories relation. Through three qualitative studies, this PhD research has provided insights into the aspects that influence the item-memory relation and the process of cuing memories by personal possessions (external memory cues), for physical as well as digital items. We found that possessions can cue different types of cuing responses. We discovered that different uses of objects influence their potential to cue memories, and also tensions in the relationship with objects affected their cuing. A longitudinal study revealed several reasons why the memory responses cued by personal items changed over time. Further, based on interviews with repair professionals and object owners, we gained insights on the role of objects’ traces and ageing on cuing memories. At the end of this presentation, we will reflect on and discuss how the gained knowledge can facilitate design for remembering with design considerations for designers and HCI practitioners.

Report presented at the Art and Dementia research launch

Last Tuesday, the Art and Dementia research launch took place at the Art Gallery of NSW. At this event, the results were presented of a study that evaluated the art access program for people living with dementia at the Art Gallery of NSW. The study was conducted by Materialising Memories member dr. Gail Kenning (together with Annemarie Zijlema as a research assistant), who observed and analysed four sessions at the Gallery, and besides that interviewed and surveyed the attendees, professional care staff and volunteers, family members, and the program facilitators of the Art Gallery of New South Wales. The following video provides an impression of the access program:

Associate professor dr. Roger Dunston (also a member of Materialising Memories) presented the findings, as deputy for dr. Gail Kenning, who is currently overseas. The report can be downloaded here.

Memories of Cockatoo Island

panorama photo MM blog
Last week the annual ‘design thinking’ camp for first-year design students at UTS took place on Cockatoo Island (a former convict area, later shipyard, and now tourist destination in the midst of Sydney Harbour). Besides our PhD research, ‘Materialising Memories’ team member Doménique and I work as a tutor in this interdisciplinary course. Around 500 students participated from various design disciplines, such as fashion, interior design, animation, integrated product design and visual communication. Elise (project leader Materialising Memories) was also involved as a lecturer in the ‘design thinking’ course and as a support staff member during the three-day camp.

The students worked in multidisciplinary teams and had to explore and map the island, and on the last day, some teams presented amazing results. Each team created three maps of self-chosen themes from very basic material, like pieces of carton, fabric, or wood in a very short period of time.

One of my favourites was a work made by a student group who wanted to map personal memories of Cockatoo Island. From the outside it showed an abstract representation of the island. The contours of the major buildings and objects on the island where nicely depicted by embroidered lines on the fabric. But that was not the interesting part. The map could be divided in small boxes, like a puzzle. The group had been asking rangers, tutors, students and other visitors on the island what would serve as a memory cue for them to remember their experience on Cockatoo Island. The students had created these memory cues and put them in the boxes.

photo memory box3Work created by Rekha, Jackie, Georgia, Sugih and Sylvia, Design Camp 2014

While presenting their work to their fellow students and me on the final day, one of the boxes was melting in the sun. It was the chocolate that served as a memory cue for their own experience of Cockatoo Island, relating to their most prominent food while working with each other on the three maps. From my own experience, chocolate seems to be a very unreliable cue as it often disappears all of a sudden. 😉

photo memory boxAnd my own memories of Cockatoo Island? I want to remember the enthusiasm of the students and their willingness to learn from each other; the lovely and inspiring conversations I had with other tutors and staff members; the long and very tasty dinner which was prepared by the head of school for the staff and tutors involved; the instruction told by fellow tutor Clare on how to fold the Sydney Opera House out of a serviette; and the walk with A/prof Bert Bongers and his projections of traces from the past on the Cockatoo Island buildings. I did no mapping myself during the camp, so I better write about my experiences.

Having a guest in Sydney: Connie Golsteijn

photo othford

After a busy November, with several ‘Materialising Memories’ team members and professor David Frohlich visiting us in Sydney, it was a bit quiet in the office in December. But not for long, because in early January we had the pleasure of welcoming Connie Golsteijn from the UK who came to visit us for three weeks.

Connie is a PhD student at the University of Surrey and nearing completion of her doctoral thesis. Her PhD work is on physical and digital craft, and how these crafts can be integrated into hybrid craft. She is co-supervised by Materialising Memories project leader dr. Elise van den Hoven.

Of particular interest concerning ‘Materialising Memories’ is Connie’s paper about cherishable objects . We often keep objects because memories are attached to them. However, digital objects are often less valued than their physical counterparts, and in this study she investigated how they are perceived differently and the various advantages and disadvantages of digital, physical and hybrid objects.

Interestingly, she found that digital objects were often valued because they were self-created by the owner. This finding led to several other studies investigating digital, physical and hybrid craft, about which she gave a presentation at our faculty for a mixed audience of scholars in Sydney.

Having someone in the office who is way ahead in her PhD process is a great advantage for discussing all kinds of PhD-related topics. But there is also an important informal benefit of having a guest; that is, accompanying the guest to explore Sydney and surrounding areas, and Australian life. Several weekends have been spent on outings together and last weekend’s Australia Day holiday was celebrated with a barbecue (I mean ‘barbie’) in the park.

Doménique ended his blog with a cute baby wallaby. I will end with a photo of a Water Dragon we met on our walk from The Spit to Manly. This beautiful animal had no fear of the camera, so he is clearly a candidate for a successful career as a top model.

water dragon