Archives for posts with tag: terra incognita

In October 2016, we took a group of young people to see our production Invisible Army at Macrobert Arts Centre. For most of the group this was their first encounter with theatre. Artistic Director Victoria Beesley tells us more.

“Vickie, you keep saying that there are going to be actors performing when we go to see the show. What do you mean? Are they going to be on a screen?”

“No. It’s live. They’re going to be standing right in front of you.”

“Right in front of us?”


“So I could reach out and touch them if I wanted to?”


“What?! Seriously?”


“Wow!” Mind. Blown.

This is a genuine conversation I had with one of the young carers we had been working with to create Invisible Army. She couldn’t get over the fact that when she went to the theatre the actors were going to be performing live in the same space she was sitting in. She came back to me a couple more times just to check she’d understood me right.

InvisibleArmy_mf (13 of 13)

Thankfully, when she saw the show she was not disappointed. After the show she described the experience:

“It was mind blowing to see all the things we’d imagined actually happening in real life. You know when you have an idea and you see it play out in your head and then when you try and do it it doesn’t work? It was like that but everything did work! It was like every piece of the puzzle was getting joined. It was amazing!”


I was lucky enough to be taken to the theatre as a child. It’s why I do my job now. But for a lot of young people going to the theatre isn’t part of their family or community tradition, or it’s too expensive, or it’s too intimidating to cross the threshold of a theatre for the first time. Taking our young carers group to the theatre was a completely brilliant experience. I saw first hand the joy, pride and excitement it evoked in them, I saw how it connected with their lives, their worries, their sense of humour, I saw it validate them and inspire them.

We really want to give more children and young people the opportunity to have this brilliant experience. We’ve launched our Take a Seat… campaign so we can take more children and young people to the theatre in 2018. Our young carers group wanted to send a message to anyone who might be thinking about donating:

“Going to the theatre is really cool. You get to see things you’ve imagined and thought about come to life right in front of your eyes. It’s exciting sitting there. If you can donate, do it. Theatre is so good. It will actually change a child’s life – especially kids who don’t normally get to go, who haven’t had an opportunity like we had.”

So if you can, donate this Christmas and together we can give the gift of a first trip to the theatre to children across Scotland. Visit our Justgiving page for more information.

Merry Christmas!


Our ‘Take a Seat..’ is about giving children and young people from these groups the opportunity to access the arts and enjoy a professional, high quality, theatre show.  ALL the money we raise will be spent on supporting children and young people to attend My Friend Selma in March 2018.
Terra Incognita is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SC043813).

This December we’re running our Take a Seat… crowdfunding campaign. We want to raise enough money to take 100 children to the theatre in Spring 2018. Artistic Director Victoria Beesley tells us why.

My Friend Selma - rehearsal shot 4

Victoria rehearsing My Friend Selma

When I was three I went to see a ballet performance by a local dance school. I climbed onto the stage and started dancing with the ballerinas. I’d just started ballet classes so I figured it was allowed. When I was five I went to see an amateur production of Grease. One of the performers pulled a mooney; I talked about his bottom for weeks. When I was nine I went to see Peter Pan at the West Yorkshire Playhouse. There was a rotating stage and a giant ball pool. It was magical. I can still see the stage and feel my sense of awe and excitement.

We want to offer 100 children the opportunity to experience the joy, magic and excitement of theatre that I felt all those years ago. We work with lots of children who, due to financial, logistical and cultural barriers, don’t get to go to theatre. Our Take a Seat… campaign is about removing these barriers. By working with local community groups, purchasing tickets and providing transport to venues, we saying to these young people, ‘Take a seat. This is for you. You’re welcome here.’

My Friend Selma 14

Audience at a community venue performance of My Friend Selma

We’ll be bringing these young people to see our production My Friend Selma. In March 2018, we’re taking the show on the road for the fifth time. It’s the tale of a girl, a world turned upside down, a remarkable journey, loss, friendship, courage and conkers. It’s proved to be a hit with audiences so far and we’re hoping it can leave a lasting impression on the children benefiting from the Take a Seat… campaign.

“I would give this show 280,00,00 out of five.” – Erin, age 9

“The most amazing story I’ve ever heard.” – Georgia, age 10

So this Christmas, we’d love it if you could pull an extra £7 from your pocket and contribute to our Justgiving fundraising campaign. You’ll be buying a ticket and spreading a little bit of theatre magic.

Thanks very much.


Visit our fundraising page at Justgiving and donate today.

Terra Incognita is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. (SC043813)

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….


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Terra Incognita is about to embark on its second tour of Scottish theatres with its show My Friend Selma. Artistic Director Victoria Beesley tells us more about the real-life friendship that inspired the production.

When I was eight years old the thing I wanted most was a best friend. I imagined we’d spend a lot of time on our own having serious conversations, that we’d make each other laugh, that we’d invent some of the greatest games ever played, and that we’d tell each other secrets.


Selma and me in the paper

When I was eight years old, I got that best friend.

Selma was amazing. She was braver, cheekier, and naughtier than me, she made me laugh, and her two front teeth were missing. At first we couldn’t actually speak the same language but we were instantly friends. I loved her. I still do.

We met in a disused boarding school in Leeds. Selma and her family had fled war in Bosnia, and had been brought to the UK by a charity my dad set up. The charity took aid to refugee camps and towns isolated by the conflict, it sent volunteers to work in refugee camps, and it brought more than 500 refugees to the UK. These refugees were housed as far north as Crieff and as far south as Kent.

The people we lived with in the disused boarding school were the first two groups my dad’s charity, aLERT, brought to the UK. Leeds City Council had given aLERT permission to use the ramshackle old building and the response from local residents was amazing. People of all ages worked hard to decorate and repair Springfield School so it was fit for living in; they donated furniture, clothes, toys, toiletries and food so that the refugees would have everything they needed; they gave their time and energy to make these people feel welcome in Britain and to ensure they had all the support they needed.

This period of my childhood made a big impression on me. I’m amazed at the resilience of Selma, whose life had been turned upside down weeks before I met her. I feel incredibly lucky to have spent that time living at Springfield School.  The people we lived with had lost everything, they had left loved ones behind in a country at war, and found themselves having to start their lives again in an unfamiliar country and culture. But despite the worry, anxiety and pressure they must have been feeling they always had time for me; to teach me, share their culture with me, entertain me, or just to show me a bit of love. They are some of the most remarkable people I have met, and I have benefited massively from having them in my life.

Rehearsing My Friend Selma

Rehearsing My Friend Selma

Over the years I learnt more about the war, about why people had to flee, and about the journey that Selma and her family had to go on in order to get to safety. Selma was eight when I met her and she’d already seen and experienced things that, thankfully, most of us won’t see or experience in our whole lifetimes. My Friend Selma tells this story from her perspective as an eight year old as they embark on their journey and begin a new life in a strange country. The show is a document of her family’s experience and a tribute to their courage. In the light of the current events, it has also turned out to be a timely piece of theatre that will give audiences young and old a bit more insight into why people flee.

It’s an incredible story. I hope you can join us.

My Friend Selma is touring in March 2018. Visit our website for full details.



Under the Monkey PuzzleAs part of our As I See It project, we’ve been collecting stories from across Glasgow inspired by the Botanic Gardens. This is our final blog sharing these stories with you. This time the stories are from a lovely bunch of folk at Castlemilk Seniors Centre. Thank you once again to everyone who contributed. 



We used to go on the steam train a lot when I was younger. Once, I think we were on our way to Saltcoats because we used to go there a lot, I stuck my head out the window. I was just a girl and I was wearing this bright yellow dress. As I looked out, I was covered in all this black soot. I pulled my head back into the carriage and the soot was all over the yellow dress. I was covered. My mum shouted, “Hands up! Don’t touch it!” And she was right. It fell off the dress on its own and didn’t leave a mark. If I’d have rubbed it off it would have left black marks all over it.


Glasgow Green is the park I’ve spent most time in in Glasgow. I remember fair fortnight when I was younger. They used to have the shows. There was the big wheel, flying chairs, dodgems. You were fleeced with your money but it was good fun!


When I was younger I spent a lot of time in Elder Park. It had a pond there and once a year a boat club would come out and race their yachts on the pond. But my favourite green space is Culzean Castle. We used to spend almost every weekend there between May and September. We’d leave the tent there. The only thing we brought home was our dirty washing. Then we’d go back there the following weekend. The only thing we had to do was move the tent once a month so they could cut the grass. One of us would hold the tent pole on one side and the other would hold it on the other side and we’d pick the tent up and move it a few metres along so they could cut the grass where the tent had been.


We’ve spent the most time in Linn Park and King’s Park. We used to take our kids to Linn Park a lot, and in King’s Park they had the bikes there during the Commonwealth Games. They did it all up and it’s lovely. The parks are in much better condition than they used to be. When we lived in Govan we used to take the Govan ferry to go to Kelvingrove Park. There were these big steps that led down to the ferry. One ferry would be at one side of the Clyde, and one ferry would be at the other side and they’d cross each other as you travelled. It only took ten minutes and it was free.


My favourite thing about Glasgow Green is the mosaic tiling on Templeton Carpet Factory. It’s beautiful. They were the best carpet makers in Victorian times. They were even popular with the Americans – who had the factory make a carpet for the Oval Office.


I remember my dad took us to the old transport museum when I was a child and you were allowed to climb into the old train cars. When I was older I took my kids to the museum but you weren’t allowed on anything, you could only look at it. My son set the alarms off twice trying to get on things. He used to run everywhere. As soon as I heard the alarm go off I thought, ‘Oh no, I bet that’s Kevin.’ The security guard came over to talk to me and I told him I thought it might be best if I took them to Kelvingrove Park instead!