The Broadcast

 

I presented an event titled “The Broadcast” in reference to the pirate Radio Solidarność (Radio Solidarity) which operated during martial law in the early 1980s in Poland. For Memory of Water, I organised an audience at the historic Gate No. 2 of the Gdańsk Shipyard with Piotr Jagielski, who supervised the technical equipment of Radio Solidarność, and with Maciej Pawlak, who was its editor and author of the book “Radio Solidarność in the Tri-City”. The Gate No. 2 is the place where Lech Wałęsa stood to announce to the waiting crowds the deal that had been struck with the Communist government in 1980.

During this event, the public listened to selected archival programmes from Radio Solidarity, and from the recorded projects: “Shipyard is a Woman” and “Shipyard on Air.” The 3-hour programme was transmitted in the VHF band near the historic shipyard gate. I selected fragments relating to the strike and pacification of the Gdańsk Shipyard workers as well as the introduction of martial law. The voices recorded on tapes and played back during the broadcast evoked the energy and memories of the people who overcame their fear and uncertainty to show great courage and bravery. They were united. In those days, such pirate broadcasts appeared unscheduled, disturbing the peace of everyday radio programmes. I became even more convinced of the power, or agency, of the human voice. Recorded and listened to after many years, it reaches the innermost recesses of our minds.

I regret that I could not transmit my “Broadcast” using radio waves. Internet radio and podcasts are free of noise and interference, yet they cease to be like a living organism travelling on radio waves. Huge industrial plants like the Gdańsk Shipyard built communities – interpersonal structures that broke down once the plant closed down. To me, the most important thing about Memory of Water is remembering and reminding – bringing back and highlighting the memories of people unmentioned in any textbooks, and participating in other artists’ projects. I like looking at their work and their fresh outlook on the shipyard and its history. It was a great experience for me which has confirmed that the language of art is international and borderless. We talk about people, memory, respect and work.

Iwona Zając

Industrial Impressions

 

During our research residency in Gdańsk (June 2019), we decided to hop on this pirate ship to explore the shipyard from the water. This simple tourist attraction would turn out to be one the most inspiring moments ever for me. Besides the hundreds of pictures I took during the sailing along the waterfront, I was blown away, not only by the industrial aesthetic, but especially by the randomness of all the colours there. As an artist, that was so interesting for me, I immediately knew these wild colour combinations would play a dominant role in my planned artistic intervention.

Back home I made designs by mixing up fragments of my colourful documentation. Industrial Impressions began to form. The design was ready but finding a wall to paint it on was the biggest challenge. One wall was cancelled because of imminent demolition. Other walls were too vulnerable to vandalism. Just two weeks before the production residency, the Polish team proposed a shipping container as a canvas for the artwork. There are easier surfaces to paint on! The ribbed structure is far from ideal, especially for the linework. But the shipping container was a fantastic deep blue water colour and since shipping containers are so prominent in the shipyard, turning one into a piece of arts was the last piece to fit the puzzle.

Siegfried Vynck

Communities

I had no idea that Govan had once been bigger than Glasgow. I was excited by the decorative buildings, monuments and the stories of engineering innovation and rebellion, solidarity and kindness by Govan’s great men and women.


A cycle along the banks of the Clyde with the persistent drizzly rain made everything seem very familiar. There were parts of the Clyde where I felt I could have been cycling by the River Shannon in Ireland, with overhanging willow trees, the odd cormorant diving (presumably for eels), and the slow, deep water rising and falling with the tides.


After meeting representatives of community groups, I realised that the solidarity and support that Mary Barbour had harnessed still existed and was visible through networks of community groups and social enterprises. The social fabric of this city is a complex one.


The dry docks (they weren’t dry, it rained that day too!) surprised me, the community of trees and plants here are well established. I sat for an hour watching the locals quietly go about their business, the pigeons that live under the bridge, the butterflies feeding on the buddleia, the bees, spiders, the ducks, a young magpie family. All these creatures call this place home.

Mary Conroy

Shipyard Footage

          

I continued my process of gathering footage to tell the story of our two-year journey of discovery together. This includes documenting the projects by the other Memory of Water artists. I am shooting one film in each city, so now I’m starting to edit the film for Gdańsk, but I will gradually stitch the shorter films together into a longer feature.

This was our second Memory of Water residency in Gdańsk, but I have been there several times before. I am always so glad to see the cranes in the skyline and the shipyard still working. The schedule was intense with many parallel events going on, but for me the hardest part was walking the vast shipyard with the camera equipment! My brief was to cover the artists’ process and activities throughout the week as well as the partners’ meetings.

I didn’t have a resolved visual concept before arriving in Gdańsk. The main focus, of course, was the thematics of the Memory of Water project. In Levadia, I started and finished in the River Erkyna itself. The camera (GoPro) emerged from the water to witness the actions, and then returned, submerged back in the river. In Gdańsk, I got the idea of walking – tracing my steps – through the Shipyard, up from the river, feet walking around the events, and then down into the water again at Martwa Wisła quay, where local artist, Czesław Podleśny, has installed a group of steel-robots sculptures at the water’s edge. There was a lot of walking! I had great assistance from local film-maker  miss Anna Domanska over three days who helped me to cover parallel events. Each of the artists is working on separate projects so I’m trying to connect them spatially through the film for the audience.

At the same time, during this week and the whole experience in Gdańsk, I was collecting “good examples” of developing shipyard heritage. To show how culture and the art scene can grow and evolve with regeneration. I have the opposite experience unfortunately in Gothenburg, where the shipyard disappeared over ten years and nothing of the tangible or intangible heritage was saved.

There are many exciting things happening to protect and rethink shipyard heritage in Gdańsk, like with Stocznia Cesarka, for example. These sustainable approaches are here to stay! For one thing, the shipyard area is now more accessible for locals and tourists. I think a mobile application with archival pictures, maps and guided tours would be a popular idea.

Jonas Myrstrand

Reflecting on Govan

This was my first visit to Govan and the River Clyde and it was an eye opener for me in many ways. I had just visited Edinburgh and in contrast Govan seemed poor and under-resourced. We heard dark stories of the dangerous river with underwater currents, suicides and poisoned waters. It was not a friendly way to look upon the river, even many buildings didn’t have windows toward the water. We learned that the city had a difficult time after the shipyard industry declined. It never really recovered from that.

But it felt very hopeful for the future. We explored the river by bike, on foot and even by row-boat and canoe. Dr. Alan Lesley and Ingrid Shearer shared the fascinating history and geography of the river when we visited the Clydesdale Rowing Club. We met many innovative organisations and people supporting local crafts people and cultural operators as well as social enterprises. We met the team at the Kinning Park Complex, a truly unique and pioneering organisation for the local community. There, I screened my first film from Levadia in Greece for everybody for the first time.

The Urban Lab was really inspiring with lots of examples of projects, events, and cultural heritage research that are flourishing there. It really sparked ideas and gave us deeper, insightful perspectives to develop ideas. We were also invited to the astonishing City Chambers in Glasgow for a civic reception where we met the Lord Provost – she was Swedish too! The building was constructed by slaves back when the port was an important trading route for goods and slaves.

The artists met regularly at the welcoming home of community activist Helen Kyle, and on the first night Liz Gardiner invited us to try the traditional Scottish Haggis – unforgettable! We also took part in ts Beall’s performative walk: The Strong Women of the Clydeside. The Fairfield Heritage Museum had a huge impact on me as it resonated with the history of the Gothenburg Shipyard and I plan to go deeper into archival research for my next visit.

The weather was exactly as I expected… our first gift was a umbrella! The shipyard area, the Govan Dry Docks, the River Clyde and Doomster Hill were very inspiring and I would like to explore the possibility of an Augmented Reality (AR) experience. Thanks to Liz, Hamish, Tara and everyone we met in Govan, I’m looking forward to the next time in Govan!

Jonas Myrstrand

Reflections on Gdansk through a Govan lens.

Reflections on Gdansk through a Govan lens.


Some personal reflections from Govan based cultural planner, Liz Gardiner who is the Scottish partner on this Memory of Water project, is in charge of the communications for the project and is an artist turned academic in the Scottish context.


Whilst the production residency in Levadia had resonance for Govan in its links to textile making with its focus on the stories of local people and their ordinary traditions like washing cloth in the river, the Gdansk situation has more of a mirroring with Govan. Govan and Gdansk share histories in the development and decline of shipbuilding accompanied by protest. All of our six city artists reflected these aspects of Gdansk shipyard’s industrial history in their interventions.
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Seed Change

I wasn’t sure what to expect at Stocznia Gdańska. From the historical images I’d seen of the cranes, the industry and the crowds during the events of the solidarity movement, I could imagine the shouting, the clanging of iron, workers and machines noisily building gigantic ships to travel the globe.Read More

Reflections on Govan Research Residency

Our Govan Research Residency .……..

….was an exciting rollercoaster of meeting people and projects: including a taste of local culture (haggis and whiskey) and the honour of a civic reception from the Lord Provost of Glasgow who welcomed us with hospitality and encouraging words.

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Artists’ reflection: documenting and filming in Levadia

The Swedish artist and film-maker Jonas Myrstrand participate at the ArtCafe with a screening of his music documentary The Singing Raven (60 mins).

He did a “Spring Race” on the Erkyna river with some children and filmed it to make “A good Memory of Water”. Jonas also documenting and filming the hole process, actions and interactions of all the artists to trace the learning and impacts of Memory of Water in all the partner cities. Read More

Preparing for Levadia Revisited

Our six artists from six European post-industrial cities are preparing to embark on the second of their six residencies, this one in Levadia, Greece. I am so excited to know what the artists are thinking and have glimpses of what might be, like glittering reflections on the water. Siegfried from Ostend who works with spray paint, is identifying some young people who make graffiti art in the city. Will they work on one particular wall in one particular space to create work together? Will they work on their own work and also help the artist create a new mural for the city?Read More