Art in Action Reaches Shetland Isles with Maree Todd MSP and Gaada

Maree Todd MSP meeets with Amy Gear and Daniel Clark of Gaada at their studio in Da Auld Kirk, Burra Isle, Shetland.

Our most northern Art in Action visit was hosted by SCAN members Gaada, who met with Maree Todd MSP on the 20th August at their studio on Burra Isle, Shetland.

Maree met with Amy Gear and Daniel Clark, co-directors of Gaada and really enjoyed learning about the work that they do to engage meaningfully with issues experienced by Shetland communities.

Gaada is an artist-led community interest company that work in collaboration with a variety of individuals, artists, groups and organisations including schools, universities, councils, libraries and social enterprises. In partnership, they work to deliver a wide range of events that encourage skills sharing and learning.

Many workshops have a specialist focus on Printmaking, in particular, risograph and screenprinting and Gaada would live to turn their current studio into a fully accessible workshop facility for Shetland. Ultimately, they are passionate about reducing barriers to high quality creative development for the growing community of artists based there.

Maree Todd described the work that Gaada do as “empowering and exciting” and looks forward to hearing more about how this young organisation develops.

Print produced as part of Gaada printmaking workshop.


Art in Action heads to Greenock with Stuart McMillan MSP at RIG Arts

We sat in on a brilliant Art in Action visit earlier this week which saw Stuart McMillan, SNP MSP for Greenock & Inverclyde, visit RIG Arts – a socially engaged arts charity that brings professional artists and the community together in a collaborative and creative way.

McMillan, a local resident, is already familiar with the work of RIG Arts and the lasting impact it has had on the area – however the visit allowed him and CEO Karen Patton Orr to discuss some of the deeper issues around the integral role art can play in every community, and how art and artists can often be overlooked when it comes to policymaking.

RIG Arts Karen Patton Orr and Stuart McMillan MSP.JPG

McMillan said: “It was great to hear about RIG Arts’ summer activities and the positive impact the visual arts has on communities within my constituency.

“RIG Arts are a fantastic example of an organisation working to empower local people to play a part in shaping the visual landscape in which they live.”

Karen Paton Orr said: “It is important for RIG Arts that our MSP is aware of the socially engaged work that we do in order to understand  the real impact that it has and how it benefits individuals and the broader community.

“Art and creativity are powerful tools which can influence change and can make a positive difference in peoples lives and their environments. It is important that MSP’s as decision makers understand this to appreciate that investment in the arts is vital and generates a strong social return in investment that ultimately benefits the public purse.”

Read more on Stuart McMillan’s blog

Artist Mick Peter talks about developing a large scale public artwork with young people

Mick Peter, The Regenerators, Glasgow International 2018. Image: Erika Stevenson

For the 2018 Glasgow International festival, the Glasgow-based artist Mick Peter presented The Regenerators, a large-scale public artwork he put together in collaboration with young Glaswegians.

 ‘Most of the work I’ve done has been in galleries or institutional spaces, but The Regenerators was different. It was outside, and being part of the 18-day festival it was also quite brief. It also involved a lot of different people coming together and I wanted to do something that was equitable for everybody.

‘The work itself was essentially a huge hoarding on a derelict former gas purifier shed in Dalmarnock in Glasgow’s East End. The site was offered by Clyde Gateway and I worked with Glasgow School of Art’s Widening Participation Programme to involve young people, which was supported through the Year of Young People 2018.

‘I’ve lived in the East End of Glasgow for 15 years and there’s been a lot of contested things around regeneration, the Commonwealth Games etc – it’s not been a particularly happy history. It’s a sensitive thing to take on, which is why I felt the project had to be something that responded to the idea of regeneration.

‘The artwork references various derelict bits of Glasgow, from torn down tenements to the famous Bluevale and Whitevale flats which were very close my studio and I saw being brought down floor by floor. Part of the process of making the work involved a series of workshops with young people, and it was important that they were properly integrated and meaningful – I didn’t want them to be tokenistic at all.

‘We came up with this idea to ask a couple of artists that I could chose with the young people to work with GSA’s Widening Participation Programme to help to run the workshops. Once it got moving and gained momentum a core group of young people emerged – they were getting really empowered by what they were doing.

‘The frontage of the hoarding incorporated posters they’d designed and, thinking about the idea of public sculpture, they also created these little sculptures which we photographed and blew up as huge cutouts to be paraded in the open space in front. Ultimately we shaped their involvement together – it grew quite naturally.

‘In The Regenerators it’s drawings of people, drawings of buildings,  drawings of familiar things in our world – things we all understand. I think that breaks down the barrier that people sometimes feel, that idea that my imagination is different to your imagination.’

Mick Peter, The Regenerators Opening, Glasgow International 2018. Image: Hannah Logan

Joan McAlpine MSP visits MERZ Gallery, Sanquhar

Joan McAlpine MSP (South Scotland) visited MERZ Gallery in Sanquhar on Thursday 8th August 2019.

There, she met with founder, artist and film maker David Rushton and learned more about how the work MERZ has done to transform Sanquhar’s former lemonade factory and abattoir buildings, into a studio, exhibition, production, workshop, community and museum space.

Joan said “I am really impressed with the level of engagement that MERZ has and in particular in getting young people in Sanquhar to look at their community in a different way. Merz opens up the possibilities that you can be an artist and you can be creative in this town.”

Joan also got the opportunity to meet with current MERZ artist in residence Catriona Robertson, a sculptor based in London and a recent RCA graduate.

The making and un-making process is an integral part of Catriona Robertson’s practice, working with constructive materials and found objects to create sculptural assemblages. Her work evokes performativity in a solid form; the potential state in which there is an element of chance or possible destruction.

Joan McAlpine MSP

Images courtesy of MERZ/Joan McAlpine/Catriona Robertson




Finlay Carson MSP Visits Wasps Studios, Kirkcudbright

Finlay Carson MSP (Dumfries and Galloway meets with artists at Wasps Kirkcudbright.

Finlay Carson MSP met with artists based at SCAN member organisation Wasps Studios in Kirkcudbright on Monday 5th August and was delighted to get the opportunity to see inside working studio spaces. Finlay met with artists Ian Cameron-Smith and Lizzie Farey, who showed him round the building, introduced him to other studio holders and chatted about the contribution that artists make to tourism and the economy in the Dumfries and Galloway constituency.

Both artists have worked on various public and private commissions in the UK and beyond and and Finlay learned that the work that they make in Kirkcudbright is enjoyed by many, in a number of different environments and settings.

Wasps Studios are based in two former town houses called Cannonwalls and Claverhouse in Kirkcudbright, also known as The Artists Town in recognition of its artistic heritage. Many artists were based in Kirkcudbright in the early 20th century including Jessie M King, Charles Oppenheimer and  EA Hornel. Wasps refurbished these buildings in 2010 to create much needed affordable studio space in the area, and to support artists currently living and working there.

Wasps also own and manage around 19 studio locations across Scotland providing affordable workspace to around 800 creative people, meaning the artists based in the Kirkcudbright studios are part of a larger network. Ian and Lizzie chatted to Finlay about how important affordable workspace is in the town, and how being part of a thriving studio community benefits their work.

Sandra White MSP Visits Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow

Sandra White MSP
Sandra White MSP meets GoMA Youth Group at Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow. Image: GoMA Youth Group

Sandra White MSP visited Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow on Thursday 1st August and viewed the current exhibition and met Curator Katie Bruce and the GoMA Youth Group.

The current exhibition, Disorient by Fiona Tan is an impressive two-screen video installation that fills Gallery 1 at GoMA. It combines a fictional staged scene, documentary footage, and spoken word to explore complex historical identities, cultural perceptions and truths about the world we live in.

The work was first shown in GoMA in 2012. In the ten years since this work was made, the possibilities to connect through digital communications have increased. However, global politics have shifted to the right, leading to a greater intolerance of the ‘other’. Within this heightened access to information it becomes more important to separate facts from fiction in the news about past and current politics, cultural identities, migration and climate change.

In re-presenting the work in 2019 the layers of discourse that Tan has distilled into this work remind us that we live in a rich, complex world and historical memories, stories and perceptions have an impact on how we live together.

Also, On 25th July 2019, Glasgow Museums announced the acquisition of 14 works by female artists, addressing the gender balance within the city’s collection. Curator Katie Bruce was able to tell Sandra more about the local and international artists whose works were purchased.

Sandra was then introduced to GoMA’s  Youth Group, who meet once a week. The group is made up of people in their early 20’s who come from a range of backgrounds and play a key part in ensuring that young people’s voices are heard in the context of the gallery programming. They have started to put together their own events and, at the meeting, Sandra was able to hear them discuss the plan for their next exhibition in February 2020 and find out what’s involved in putting on an exhibition of contemporary art.


A bumper week of #ArtInAction


Patrick Harvie MSP meets with artist Sogol Mabadi, collaborators Agatha Akpan, Rena Quinn and Foxy and Platform and Glasgow Womens Library staff on Monday’s Art in Action visit (photo: Julie Howden)


This week was our busiest week of #ArtInAction activity yet!

First up, on Monday 29th July, Clare Adamson MSP (Motherwell and Wishaw) met with Ann Louise Kieran of Culture NL to see the Harry Clitheroe paintings at Motherwell Concert Hall. Clitheroe is a recent graduate of Glasgow School of Art, completing his studies in 2018.

This was Harry Clitheroe’s first solo exhibition and Clare Adamson learned how important it can be for a new artist to have a solo show in a popular public space.

Also on Monday, Patrick Harvie MSP (Glasgow) visited Platform in Easterhouse. He met Glasgow-based artist Sogol Mabadi, from Iran, who collaborated on the Home is Where Home is Not exhibition with Birthe Jorgensen from Denmark. The exhibition runs at Platform and Glasgow Women’s Library until August 3. He spent the afternoon discussing the exhibition and the ideas of home it sparked, with Sogol and local collaborators Agatha Akpan, Rena Quinn and Foxy.

The group talked about how art had created a safe space for participants of widely varying backgrounds to have difficult, often emotional conversations about identity and home. Patrick stated that: “The visit highlighted why it’s important that we continue to support  art, which has a role to play in helping us all to face up to the big challenges that society presents us with.”

On Tuesday afternoon we accompanied South Renfrewshire-based artist and curator John McDougall to visit Tom Arthur MSP at his office in Johnstone.

John was keen to talk to Tom about how contemporary art can play a part in a number of contexts and how creative projects are often a model of good practice in local settings. We also discussed the success of visual arts projects in other areas such as those that connect people with food or play, and how some of these ideas could work in Tom’s constituency too.

Tom lodged the motion for the Art in Action campaign in the Scottish Parliament and reiterated that he believes that visual arts can play huge part in Scotland’s wellbeing capital. It was great to get the chance to connect with him again and discuss the outcomes of the campaign so far.

On Thursday 1st August, Sandra White MSP (Glasgow) will visit Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow and meet the GoMA Youth Group, who respond to work on show in the gallery and ensure young people are at the heart of its programming. Earlier this week GoMA announced a major new set of acquisitions from women artists, continuing their work to address gender inequality within art collections. 


John McDougall, Renfrewshire based artist and curator and Tom Arthur MSP


Glasgow Museums Tackle Gender Inequality in Contemporary Art Collection by Announcing 14 Acquisitions


Katie Bruce, producer curator at Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art, with a Glimmer series of drawings in Jacqueline Donachie’s solo show, Deep in the Heart of Your Brain (2016) © Elaine Livingstone

Glasgow Museums announce 14 recent acquisitions for the city’s fine art collection which include sculpture, video, painting and works on paper by local and international female artists.

These include: Sara Barker, Kate Charlesworth, Michelle Hannah, Sharon Hayes, Winnie Herbstein, Mandy McIntosh and the Feegie Needlers, Carol Rhodes, Kate V Robertson, Anne Robinson, Siân Robinson Davies and Camara Taylor.

Acquired as part of a significant strand of Glasgow Museums collecting approach, developed in 2015 to address gender inequality, these works make an unequivocal statement about the value and quality of work by contemporary women and non-binary artists.

The new acquisitions increase the number of works by women in the Glasgow Museums’ fine art collection, which already includes internationally renowned artists Karla Black, Christine Borland Anne Collier, Jacqueline Donachie, Jenny Holzer, Barbara Kruger, Victoria Morton, Charlotte Prodger and Hito Steyerl.

These recent acquisitions have been made possible through the support of a number of grant funders and organisations supporting the development of public collections. Of particular importance is acquisition of the capsule collection of work by Carol Rhodes (1959 -2018) which includes the painting Land Levels and Rises. Although Rhodes was one of the most respected and admired painters in Scotland, her work was until now not represented in the civic collection of Glasgow, the city where she lived and worked. The acquisition of this painting, and a subsequent generous gift of a framed drawing and three prints, acknowledge her contribution to visual art in the city and her standing as a key British painter of the late 20th and early 21st century.

Speaking about the acquisitions, SCAN member and GoMA Curator Katie Bruce said: “Glasgow Museums’ collection is widely recognised as one of the finest civic collections in Europe and the city has had a longstanding commitment to the purchase of fine art for the collection. I am delighted that this recent pertinent selection of work by female artists has been acquired to add to the contemporary art collection in the city.

“These latest acquisitions represent a legacy of the conversations developed through the 2015-16 exhibition Ripples on the Pond, recently discussed as a case study for Scottish Contemporary Art Network’ s Art in Action campaign. Ripples on the Pond was an exhibition of work exclusively by women, with a programme of associated activity such as events and screenings to support the work of women artists in Glasgow. It provoked a discussion on gender inequality in Glasgow Museums’ collection and how that could be addressed through future acquisitions.”

Liam McArthur MSP visits Pier Arts Centre

Liam McArthur MSP

As part of the Stromness Shopping Week festivities, Liam McArthur MSP visited The Pier Arts Centre in, Orkney. Director Neil Firth and Marketing and Customer Services Manager Isla Holloway welcomed Liam whilst their popular Pavement Art Competition was taking place in the sun.

The Pier Arts Centre is currently celebrating its 40th Anniversary this year and is a perfect example of art in action, acting as a focal point for the local community alongside having a valuable archive and library, whilst running an education and outreach programme for a wide range of groups.Over the past 40 years, the Centre has embedded itself in the local community activities, providing access to important artworks to an Island community.

Most importantly, the Pier Art Centre collection is regarded as one of the finest UK collections of 20th century and key works are regularly loaned to prominent exhibitions around the world.

Liam McArthur MSP said: “I was delighted to go along to the annual pavement artist competition, as part of Stromness Shopping Week, and to see the Art in Action campaign for myself.

“The competition was a great example of how visual art allows friends and families to come together and interact with our communities in different ways.  Over 100 participants were energised and inspired to try their hand at the pavement art, and some impressive artwork was produced.

“While this inevitably led to some headaches for the judging team, the real success lay in the memories and enjoyment that this popular event created.

“Orkney is fortunate to have a vibrant artistic community that is well supported by the Pier Arts Centre.”

You can find out more about the Pier Arts Centre and their 40th anniversary activities here.

Artist and SCAN member Sogol Mabadi on bringing home to life


Glasgow-based artist Sogol Mabadi was born in Iran and grew up in Sweden. For her exhibition with fellow Glasgow artist Birthe Jorgensen, ‘Home Where Home Is Not, she explores ideas around home and ‘what it means to be of more than one place’.

‘The exhibition ‘Home Where Home Is Not’ at Platform and Glasgow Women’s Library is the result of a long project. It began in the winter of last year with a series of workshops with women from the East End of Glasgow, followed by a residency and development phase.

‘The workshops were around the idea of how we arrive at new places and how we make new homes. There were two separate groups, one at each venue. At Platform many of the women had lived in Easterhouse all their lives and it was a very committed, closed group who came to each session; at the Women’s Library it was an open drop-in group and we didn’t know who would be there from one week to the next.

‘The women were incredibly generous about their experiences. I was really struck by how much the feeling of being in a community of women allowed them to open up and share things. The idea of being witnessed and heard came up quite often, and it felt important that they were able to share their stories and be involved in inspiring work that was then going to be seen in an exhibition. The artwork wasn’t separate to them – they were very much part of it.

‘Through talking with these women, it confirmed that for many people the only certainty socially and globally these days is uncertainty. We talked about homes, landscapes, changes, and the idea of interregnum – that the tools we had before don’t work for the new situations we’re in.

‘The word ‘raft’ came up a few times in conversations and I instantly knew that I wanted to make a raft of some kind for the exhibition. I made the raft as it fed into the idea of how our foundations are increasingly liquid as opposed to solid.

‘This was all quite new to me because I’m not used to working collaboratively, whereas this is Birthe’s forte. We wanted to do it at our own pace to make sure to find different ways to remain generous and be sure about the ethics of it as well. The workshops were important because we wanted to have an ear to the ground and find our voices amongst other people’s voices – to make sure that it’s true for other people not just us.’

Home Where Home Is Not continues at Platform and Glasgow Women’s Library until 3 August. Sogol Mabadi and Birthe Jorgensen are in conversation at Glasgow Women’s Library on Thursday, 18 July at 6pm.