Summer may be over, but Art in Action campaign visits are not and on Friday 27th September, we joined Patrick Harvie MSP for Glasgow region and Co-Convenor for Scottish Greens for his second Art in Action visit. This time he and Councillor Jon Molyneux met with SCAN Members Glasgow Sculpture Studios (GSS), based in the Whisky Bond, in the north west of the city.
Mhairi Sawyer, Director of GSS was keen to give Patrick a tour of the largest art production facility in Scotland and introduce him to artists based there who work in contemporary sculptural practice.
GSS is an important organisation in the visual arts economy in Scotland. Alongside providing production space for artists and makers, the workshops are also used by arts workers and technicians that are, in turn, employed by artists and institutions to fabricate pieces of sculpture which are enjoyed in public spaces across the world. Patrick and Jon spoke to Production Facilities Manager David McAllister (above) about how the organisation works on innovative commercial projects in order to support the artistic practice at its core.
The strength of the community of artists based there helps the organisation to provide a space where skills are shared and passed on and experiments happen, via teaching and creative collaboration.
Patrick also learned more about Glasgow Sculpture Studios learning and engagement programme, which plays a really important part in making sure the organisation can build and strengthen relationships between artists, local communities, and the local environment through creative workshops and projects.
One such project is Channels, a dedicated personal development programme for young people aged 16 – 25. To deliver this project, GSS work with a variety of partners such as The Prince’s Trust, Widening Participation at Glasgow School of Art, and The Red Cross’s Chrysalis Group. Here, they can develop creative workshops that build on young people’s talents, skills, and confidence – supporting them to try new things and new experiences.
The organisation have also ensured that they have strong roots within the community in which they are based. Mhairi chatted to Patrick about how keen they have been to play a part in the regeneration of north Glasgow’s canalside. They are members of the Canal Cooperative, a network of local organisations that work collectively to unlock the potential of this area, to ensure it is a vibrant and safe place for people to live, work and visit.
During the tour of the sculpture workshops, Mhairi introduced Patrick to GSS studio-holders James Rigler and Kate V Robertson. James, whose ceramic work is held in collections such as the V&A and Chatsworth House, told Patrick about the sense of collaboration and mutual support at GSS which attracts artists at all levels. Kate spoke about the role GSS played in her own practice, opening up new ways of working that she would never have had access to without it. Kate is also one of the founding directors of Sculpture Placement Group (SPG). They run a Sculpture Adoption Scheme which enables artworks to be ‘adopted’ or borrowed by companies, community groups and public organisations. This means that these artworks can be enjoyed by the public instead of being placed in storage at the artists expense. In fact, over Glasgow Doors Open Days this month, the SPG placed a number of sculptures throughout the venues, introducing them to large new audiences.
Patrick was delighted to learn more about Glasgow Sculpture Studios and the diverse work that they do, from creating a safe space for all kinds of people to explore new ideas and ways of communicating to embedding themselves in local regeneration initiatives and playing a part in the visual arts fabrication economy.