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Our final group blog post is from Ceramicist Jen Smith who worked with The Women’s Creative Company.  If you missed the chance to view their work at South Block then read on for a teaser of where to see it next! 

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As a ceramicist, I usually start a piece of work with a clear image in my mind of what it will be, right down the curve of a handle or the flashes of colour across the surface; this project was entirely different and liberatingly so.

Coming into an established group as welcoming, enthusiastic,  and outspoken as the Women’s Creative Company has been a total joy. It was clear very early on from our discussions and clay maquettes that there were several ideas that we wanted to communicate through our statue so talk turned to the best methods of using all of these sources without confusing our message.

I proposed a collaged surface which allows separate images to find new context through placement and association. We workshopped ideas by making test collages and reflected on how the meanings developed in ways we could use on our statue.

Through this organic method of working we found a shared voice and it became clear to have a woman in a wheelchair who represents every woman. Her feet are her roots with historical imagery of slavery and the suffrage movement, the plants and leaves growing there are wilting and stifled.

Her torso is collaged with photos of the many women who deserve statues in Glasgow surrounded with blooming flowers, their names embroidered alongside them – a nod to the textile industry in the Merchant City and to ‘women’s work’.

Her face lists the many professions and achievements of the women she represents alongside common derogatory words women often have to endure on their way to those respected positions. Her face is purposefully looking to somewhere in the distance, an acknowledgment that there is still somewhere more to go.

It is a celebration of what women have achieved and have yet to achieve; as colourful, glorious and diverse as the wonderful women who helped to make her.

Our statue will also be used as part of the Merchant City Festival performance by A Moment’s Peace Theatre working with Terra Inconita Arts so you can get a closer look there!

Jen

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Date & Times for Hidden Footprints at Merchant City Festival

  • SAT 29 JUL 201712.00PM – 1.00PM
  • SAT 29 JUL 20172.30PM – 3.30PM
  • SAT 29 JUL 20174.30PM – 5.30PM
  • SUN 30 JUL 201712.00PM – 1.00PM
  • SUN 30 JUL 20172.30PM – 3.30PM
  • SUN 30 JUL 20174.30PM – 5.30PM

We return to Govan Community Project this week to hear from Artist and Illustrator Alice Dansey Wright.  She fills us in on the progress the group have made in such a short space of time!  

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Rosie and I have been working with two groups within Govan Community Project- the Homework Group for kids on a Monday night and the Men’s Group on a Friday night. Both groups meet in the community flat in Cardonald, which is a normal flat that has been converted in to a series of community rooms and a kitchen. The Men’s group meet to play football, make new friends and eat a meal together. The group has a facilitator who is helped by two local volunteers- a university student and an S5 pupil.

Over the course of two 2-hour workshops with the men’s group we met four men in addition to the facilitator and volunteers. The men keep in touch using a WhatsApp group and the atmosphere is very relaxed and friendly, centered around the preparing, cooking and sharing of a meal (which Rosie and I were lucky enough to get a plate of too). Due to the relaxed atmosphere, slower pace and language ability of the group we were able to introduce the project in a more developed way which started with us discussing images and information about a series of existing Glasgow statues.

IMG_3342The men shared their insights and knowledge about Glasgow and overall were in agreement that representation of different cultures in public sculpture is important, alongside information about Glasgow’s industrial past such as the ship building trade. We also discussed protest, rebellion and activism – looking at the rallies, talks and gatherings around George Square and La Pasionaria, the statue of communist politician Dolores Ibarruri which commemorates the 534 British volunteers who joined the fight against Franco’s regime in the Spanish Civil War. The slogan ‘People Make Glasgow’ was brought up as one of the men had seen it all over the city and didn’t understand what it was for/what it meant. After discussing this we felt that the slogan reflected our ideas for the As I See It project well.

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The men were invited to develop a series of symbols that represented them as well as symbols that could represent Glasgow (which was a slight development on what we did with the Homework group). Despite some protestations about not being able to draw all of the group produced interesting drawings that were subsequently turned in to blocks and symbols for the statue making activity.

On the 2nd of June we held our big workshop/making day at Kinning Park Complex. Along with volunteers and staff from GCP both the men’s group and the kids from the Homework Group came together to collaboratively block print and paint a selection of t-shirts and a large piece of fabric which will be turned into our statue.

Alice

As I See It: Missing Statues culminates with a special event at South Block on Saturday 17th June where the statues will be unveiled. They will then be exhibited at South Block from 19th – 23rd June. For more info visit the Facebook event page.

It’s time to hear from Charlotte Duffy Scott – a cardboard artist who has been working with a group of visually impaired adults who meet regularly as part of the wider As I See It project.  Lets see what they have been up to!

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Working with the As I See It group challenged the way I thought about not just the act of making but the role and responsibility public art has to be truly accessible to everyone in the public. Sight still is the most depended upon sense when it comes to experiencing and consuming a lot of art; statues, paintings, sculptures, video installation – so much of it relies on a foundation of seeing what’s there in front of you but also the presumption that every one who looks at it will be able to see it in the same way as the artist did. We class so much as ‘visual art’ with little thought as to what means to those who are visually impaired.

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The piece we have created is collaborative in a way that I didn’t know was possible, the entire process has been an act of sharing and borrowing skills, views, experiences and opinions from one another in order to create something that, hopefully, can be appreciated through sound, or through touch, or through far away sight or close up sight. In each different way that it can be experienced a different story is told but with a shared foundation in expressing a different point of view.

IMG_20170503_151740Emmanuel has made the most intricate model of a plane. It is small but incredibly detailed and the viewer can see through the windows to the rows of tiny chairs inside, the propellers even spin when you blow on them.  My hands made this piece however it is entirely Emmanuel’s – each week he has described to me every single element he envisions from how many wheels it should have to the specific wingspan it needed. He drew imaginary lines with his fingers for where every cut and every join had to be. He told me off when it felt as though I hadn’t done exactly hat he had asked. We’ve made something together but he is the artist and I was a tool to achieve the image he had in his head.

On first meeting this group all told me of how they’d never made anything out of cardboard before and I replied that we were in the same boat because I’d never made anything without relying on my sight so we could learn together and make our own ways of doing things and representing things. And we truly have.

Charlotte

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As I See It: Missing Statues culminates with a special event at South Block on Saturday 17th June where the statues will be unveiled. They will then be exhibited at South Block from 19th – 23rd June. For more info visit the Facebook event page.

This week’s blog is from Artist & Illustrator Rosemary Cunningham.  Rosemary is working with our Artistic Director Victoria Beesley to create a statue with young carers from Glasgow South West Carers Centre. 

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Six weeks isn’t a long time to create a new statue for Glasgow, especially with young people who have so many ideas and energy! Every session begins with drama exercises which Vickie leads, it warms everyone up and breaks down some of the shyness we begin with each week.

The whole process of the statue grew from the idea of heroes. Who are they? What do they look like? What are the things that make them special? In week one we built our own heroes from paper. In week two we began to identify certain traits that we wanted our own statue to have:

Powerful

Love

Safe

Interactive

Fun

Inspirational

Unique

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Using mind mapping to eke out initial thoughts and ideas, we used drawing as a way of communicating ideas and concepts and certain themes began to emerge; heart shapes, stars, pets, nature, hugging arms. A major turning point was the idea that everyone is a hero in their own way, so the statue has to be for everyone. We played with enjoyably messy materials like bouncy foam, using it to make large scale silly models that were fun to play with. Our job became trying to work out how to encourage people to empathise with us and interact with our heroic words – so it became an igloo (unique in Glasgow)! Outside, a hard shell for protection (powerful and safe) and inside, a soft, (fun) bouncy world with activities and diversions (interactive, inspirational). The idea is that anyone inside the cocoon is escaping the stressful world and getting a virtual hug from the interior (love).

By week 5 we were making our own igloo structures from card and decorating them to fit our needs. By amalgamating the ideas that emerged – which were already converging – our cocoon was beginning to take shape. It will be an eight-sided natural wood structure with a sunshine roof, with cushions, grass and a space to explore and feel rested inside. In this last week I have been trying to make the structure itself so that I can bring it to them for decorating and final ideas. I’m so excited that it’s taken shape so quickly and clearly for them and I’m keen that the final outcome is as much their work as possible. Using birch plywood – and getting in some extra design help from Hamish Bigg – we’re cutting the wood and hopefully it will slot together easily and it can stand up as a hero for anyone feeling stressed.

Rosemary

As I See It: Missing Statues culminates with a special event at South Block on Saturday 17th June where the statues will be unveiled. They will then be exhibited at South Block from 19th – 23rd June. For more info visit the Facebook event page.

This week’s blog is from Drama Artist Rosie Reid.  Roise is working with Artist and Illustrator Alice Dansey Wright to create a statue with refugees in Govan.  Over to Rosie….

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Girls having fun at the Homework club with paint!

We have been invited into the Homework Club at the Govan Community Project as part of Terra Incognita’s project As I See It: Missing Statues. The Homework Club takes place from 4pm-6pmevery Monday and Wednesday at a ground floor flat, where most of the young residents of the block come down to help one another with their homework. There is lots of peer learning and activities going on and when we first arrived, Alice and I were swept away by the energy and community spirit within the club. 

We have been asking the young people a lot of questions, like what represents you? What are your ingredients? What makes you who you are? Through printmaking we have been creating our own symbols that represent who we are and what we care about. The group have been enjoying getting their hands dirty and pretending to be statues. The next time we meet we will be making our statue together. Creating an umbrella for which all of our symbols and all of our identities will be brought together.

Rosie

As I See It: Missing Statues culminates with a special event at South Block on Saturday 17th June where the statues will be unveiled. They will then be exhibited at South Block from 19th – 23rd June. For more info visit the Facebook event page.

Artistic Director Victoria Beesley introduces us to Terra Incognita’s latest project.

You’ve probably seen an awful lot of them. The Duke of Wellington sitting on a horse with a traffic cone on his head. La Passionara on the banks of the Clyde with her arms in the air. A group of Gorbals boys wearing oversized stilettos. Glasgow has a lot of statues; a celebration of the city’s heritage, a collective remembering, a projection of hope for the future. But there are so many stories missing from the city’s landscape. People and events have been forgotten, erased, ignored.

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A few members of Terra Incognita’s visually impaired arts group with La Passionara.

Our latest As I See It project is inspired by these missing stories. We’ve been working with our regular group of visually impaired adults, the Women’s Creative Company, young carers at Glasgow South West Carers Centre, and Govan Community Project to create four new statues for Glasgow. Working alongside four visual artists, each group is creating an artwork that reflects their passions, history and experiences.

Made from cardboard, textiles, papier mache (and even sponge!) these new artworks offer a fresh perspective on Glasgow and its people, celebrating lesser known stories from the city’s past and present.

It has been fascinating watching the concept for each statue emerge, and a total pleasure to see visual artists Rosemary Cunningham, Charlotte Duffy-Scott, Jen Smith, and Alice Dansey-Wright at work as they play with different ideas for making each group’s ideas a reality. The final statues promise to be unique and intriguing works of art.

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A workshop with the Women’s Creative Company

Over the next few weeks we’ll have blogs from each of the artists working on the project. They’ll provide an insight into the workshops, the journey they have been on with their group – and you might even get a sneaky peek of the statue as a work in progress!

As I See It: Missing Statues culminates with a special event at South Block on Saturday 17th June where the statues will be unveiled. They will then be exhibited at South Block from 19th – 23rd June. For more info visit the Facebook event page.

As I See It Workshop Leader, Amy Conway, gives us an update on what’s been happening with the project.

 

As I See It is back with a brand new project! Last year was a busy one for Kathy, Emmanuel, Joe and Frank, our visually impaired tour guides, with two successful projects under their belt. Back in early April, our guides delivered a fascinating, personalised insight into the Gorbals area of Glasgow, and then in June they hosted a community event in Maryhill celebrating Glasgow dancehalls and the city’s enthusiasm for dance, both past and present.

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As I See It: Dancehall Experience (Photo by Jassy Earl)

 

And as if that wasn’t enough, our intrepid participants finished the year with the research phase of their next project which is all about the public statues, monuments and sculptures of Glasgow.

This is obviously quite a broad topic and not specific to any particular area of Glasgow, unlike our past projects, and we have had a brilliant time so far, thinking about the many existing statues in our fair city, learning a bit about how these statues are created, and starting to think about what statues might be missing from the city landscape.

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Out and about researching

A few fun facts we have gathered from our research for you:

  • If you’re a fan of cartoons, you might already know that there have been two statues commissioned to celebrate the life of Scottish (Partick-born) newspaper cartoonist, Bud Neill. You may know that sheriff “Lobey Dosser” used to sit astride his two legged horse, El Fideldo, on Woodlands Road until it was vandalised and removed by the council. But did you know that there is a second Bud Neill character, “G.I. Bride”, in Partick Station still going strong?
  • Speaking of other statues that have been removed, Robert Burns used to occupy a prime spot in George Square but has been absent recently to undergo restoration and cleaning.
  • Unfortunately we found almost zero statues commemorating the achievements of women(!), but we were interested to learn that the person most depicted in statue form (other than religious icons) in the world was Queen Victoria! Mind you, she did get about a bit.

We’ve also been lucky enough to receive a guided tour of Glasgow Museums Resource Centre by    3-D Art (Sculpture and Installation) Conservator, Stephanie de Roemer. She gave us an exclusive look at some of the pieces she was restoring at the moment and a glimpse into the challenges that an international conservator faces. She’s also employed by UNESCO so gets to help protect sculpture from all over the world, including in places of ongoing conflict! It was particularly interesting to discover that Stephanie disapproves of the infamous traffic cone on top of the Duke of Wellington’s head in Royal Exchange Square. Whilst some feel that this semi-permanent addition to the statue is just part of the cheeky “Glesca” patter, she feels it is disrespectful to the historical significance of the piece, as well as to the publicly-funding authority that maintains it.

Something that irked all of us more generally about the sculptural landscape, is the lack of accessible statues. Older statues tended to be mounted on a high plinth and were generally out of reach with the result that those with visual impairments were not able to fully appreciate or enjoy them. We acknowledged that some of the more modern statues were specifically designed to be interacted with and touching was by no means prohibited, yet there had been instances where this accessibility had led to vandalism or even theft (most recently a statue in the Gorbals got its foot sawn off)!

Having cast a critical eye over Glasgow’s existing statues, observing the recurring features and different types, our guides are now starting to think about what they feel is conspicuously absent. Who or what are not represented in these public artworks? Glasgow institution and champion boxer, Benny Lynch, has already had a statue commissioned which will be erected in the Gorbals area sometime in the near future, but if you could commission one statue for 2017, what would you choose? This is the question our guides will be looking to answer in the coming months and will work with a local artist to realise their ideas.

 

As I See It: Statues is created with support from the Big Lottery Fund. Terra Incognita is working with groups across Glasgow to create new statues of people and events that are currently missing from Glasgow’s landscape. These statues will be unveiled at a special event in June 2017. Watch this space for more information.