04 Sep 2020

Govan Pivot

Over the next two months, a series of public art projects will be happening across Govan, Glasgow, as part of Fablevision’s role in Memory of Water. These six productions will be designed by an artist in Scotland and five European artists remotely. The projects will include a music production, mural painting, printed work, stencilling, performance, and filming.

All artists spent a full week in September 2019 immersing themselves in the culture, history and realities of Govan, including meeting with dozens of local people, community organisations, activists and local artists. The June production residency will now be delivered remotely by the artists, with the physical production being carried out by a collaboration of Fablevision staff, local stakeholders, and local community groups. The exception to this is the Fablevision lead artist, tsBeall, who resides in Scotland and can carry out her project herself.

The Memory of Water artists are developing their individual responses to the constraints brought on by Covid-19, and have proposed local delivery in Govan as follows:

Mary Conroy has created a series of drawings based on selected artworks, maps, architecture and stones in and around the historic Govan Old Church, which holds the oldest and most extensive collection of  Viking hogback stones in Europe. Mary’s drawings will be produced in Limerick, digitised and sent to a local traditional printing press in Govan to produce a set of unique high quality prints and other products which will be sold to help raise funds for the ongoing research work of the Govan Stones (an independent Trust linked to the Church). The form and content of the printed material is being produced in collaboration with Govan Stones staff and volunteers.
To compliment this project, a life sized stencil of Hogback Stone No 12 will be handmade in Limerick by Mary and posted to Govan, where local artists and volunteers will install it in a public location to promote the project and generate further interest in these mysterious objects.

 

Siegfried Vynck worked on a simplified mural design to be painted on a prominent wall in Govan. The location is particularly significant as it is located at one of the historical centres of shipbuilding in Scotland and can be seen easily from a main road. The reason for Siegfried’s simplification of his original mural design is that this project will be developed so that local people can paint his design without prior knowledge of paint and without his physical help. Fablevision staff will be present, and Siegfried will support by live video conferencing to answer questions and give advice.

 

Iwona, "Shipyard" 2004Iwona Zajac is working with heritage archives and former shipyard workers from Govan. She will print shipyard workers’ memorable sentences on a structure at the historic Govan Dry Docks which will be visible to the public. As with Mary Conroy’s work, there will be cooperation here with a local printing press, as the font used must be the most appropriate historically to that time and space. Iwona will work with a Polish typography artist, Eugenia Tynna, to draw and cut stencils that will be sent to Govan, and painted by a local artist. This is related to Iwona’s work entitled “Shipyard” from 2004 http://www.stoczniaweterze.com

 

ts Beall - Steamie: DC Thomson picture.

t s Beall’s project ‘Through the Wringer’ will be a series of mobile washing events in Govan – each including stories, songs, and people doin’ the washin’. Inspiration will come from the history of Glasgow’s steamies (or wash houses), although the stories themselves will be gathered from interviews conducted by the artist – primarily with health care workers and women whose care burdens have increased during the Covid-19 pandemic. Similar to Beall’s work in Levadia, Greece for Memory of Water, portions of the spoken word and stories for the event will be written on cloth which will be washed and hung to dry.

 

Ira“Urban Kelpies: Awakening the River” is the title of Ira Brami’s project taking place in Levadia, Greece and Govan, Scotland in collaboration with STAGE(Scottish Talent Across Generations Events), local musicians and performers. Ira will produce a video art in Levadia, projecting her idea and feeling of the river Clyde from when she was in Govan in September last year. In Govan a film will be produced with bands playing and spoken poetry with the River Clyde painted on the background. The two films will be launched digitally accompanied by an online conversation about the project. There is an urge to re-awakening the river Clyde, creating new memories and with an effort to surpass the difficult times we’re facing.

 

JonasInstead of Jonas Mystrand travelling to Govan to take footage of the activities, a local filmmaker will film each of the productions with instructions from the artist. Jonas will have continuous contact with the filmmaker and work-in-progress, completing the final edit to create the Govan production film and to finish the main documentary. He will conduct interviews with each artist remotely. We know this process of ‘remote filming’ can work, as Fablevision used similar processes in our 2017 collaboration with Gdansk, ‘Riverside Solidarity’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2kU7pdcVvns&feature=youtu.be&t=5.

06 Apr 2020

This Body is in Danger

I took the intercity bus from Edinburgh airport to Glasgow city centre. The bus ride was ideal for a first impression of Scotland. The green fields of the countryside made way for the Glasgow urban jungle. Leaving Buchanan bus station I was immediately impressed by the architecture of the city centre. It had an aura of past-time grandeur. Strangely the whole atmosphere also felt a bit grim,reminding me of Gotham city in my old superhero Batman comic books. So I was sure this would be a very inspiring week!

The weather was being 100% Scottish… So I had to adapt quickly since I had left Belgium in summery conditions. Different guides took us on in- and outdoor adventures and explorations and my appetite for input and insight was well served. But something struck me, and frustrated me more and more. It was the litter! The waste throughout the Glasgow and Govan area made me really sad. I just couldn’t believe the amount of trash and garbage lying around everywhere. From the most beautiful parks to the smallest streets, it was a thorn in my side. I asked the local partners about this and we discussed the issue amongst the artists. Sadly some of the group said they have similar problems in their hometowns too. I remember as a kid in the late eighties I had a Greenpeace t-shirt with “This Body is in Danger” printed on it. This was thirty years ago! I thought we would have evolved a little bit more since then- Maybe they should reissue the t-shirt with an adaptation to: “This body is endangered”! It’s time people realise we can’t continue like this anymore. We are slowly poisoning our environment due to over-consumption, a lack of common sense or respect for our habitat.

I think Glasgow and all other beautiful cities really need local heroes to stand up and fight this problem. It all starts from education and bringing awareness to every community. If I see someone picking up other people’s throwaway garbage, they are a superhero!

NO TIME TO WASTE!

 

Siegfried Vynck

 

06 Apr 2020

Wild Beauty

I was mostly surprised by the River Clyde in Govan which is so beautiful and wild but not easily accessed. There aren’t many spots to sit and enjoy it. The Viking history, the Govan Stones and the architecture of the buildings were stunning.

I liked the people in Govan a lot, they were very warm and hospitable. Especially the day that we visited GalGael where they work with wood, and we had meal together and after we all sang. I got a taste of Celtic culture and how people keep their traditions alive.

Mostly I was inspired by the river because of its wild beauty. One wooden boat that was moored in the river gave me a lot of inspiration. And of course the Celtic instruments that I heard.

It will be very challenging for me to work in Govan because I would love to work in the river and attract more people to walk up the river again. I would like to create a wooden boat parade on the river with local residents on board singing and playing live Celtic music.

 

Ira Brami

 

 

 

02 Apr 2020

The Strong Women of the Clydeside: Protests & Suffragettes

I was both nervous and delighted to welcome the Memory of Water artists to Govan. I first moved my studio there in 2009, after looking around Glasgow for reasonably priced studio space. Someone recommended Unit 7 on Clydebrae Street in front of the Dry Docks (also called the Govan ‘Graving Docks’), now derelict. I instantly fell in love with the place, and took the studio literally because of its proximity to the dockyard. I was amazed by the majesty of the Dry Docks, and took many long walks on site: I thought of them as Glasgow’s Parthenon.

Caption: Govan's Dry Docks (also called 'Graving Docks') were a wild refuge in an urban environment in 2010, Image Ben Rush

I had spent months considering how best to introduce five artists from across Europe to Govan, with only a week to do so. How to arrange a balance of meetings, presentations, walks, talks, and necessary fun? How could we impart the history, cultural richness, local challenges, and organisational complexities? Working with the Fablevision team, we considered many possible strategies and thought deeply about every moment the visiting artists would spend here.

Govan is a place with a rich landscape of cultural organisations, and some of these groups have long and challenging histories with each other. I recently read a definition of ‘social capital’ which used as a metric the ability of local organisations and individuals to work together towards shared goals. If this is the litmus, then I’m not sure Govan could always have been considered well provisioned. Like many places, it has a funding landscape which puts in competition organisations which could otherwise be collaborating. I’ve spent a decade working with and within this organisational landscape, developing projects which attempt to strengthen local connectivity. It has always been rewarding, but rarely straightforward.

 

 

CAPTIONS CLOCKWISE

Images from Strong Women of the Clydeside ‘artWalk’, 7 Sept 2019

1: Detail of Mary Barbour Statue, Govan Cross, with creative intervention – naming one of the anonymous figures as Suffragette Helen Crawfurd.

2: Liz Gardiner (Fablevision) in front of William Pearce statue, speaking about his wife Lady Dinah Pearce.

3: SWaC team members at Water Row, sharing words and actions of Helen Crawfurd and her nephew, James Jack.

4. Poster from 1915 advertising a Rent Strike meeting at Morris Hall, Shaw Street, Govan.

For me one of the highlights of the residency was the last day when myself and the Strong Women of the Clydeside (SWaC) project team hosted a guided ‘artwalk’ for our guests. The SWaC project both enacts and celebrates 100 years of women’s activism in Govan, and this was an excerpt from the annual artwalks we have been hosting since 2013. We began at the new Mary Barbour statue (unveiled March 2018), took in Water Row and the site of Suffragette Helen Crawfurd’s family bakery (Jack’s Rolls), and strolled along the new riverside walkway to Govan Old Church. We paused at the statue of Sir William Pearce where we spoke about his wife, Lady Dinah, and another amazing woman — Margaret MacGregor. We ended at the gate of Fairfield Shipyard, sharing some of the histories of the 1971 Upper Clyde Shipbuilders Work-In, and quoting UCS veteran and former shipyard worker Linda Hamill.

At Fairfield, we also quoted Polish activist and journalist Ewa Milewicz on the 1980 Solidarity strike in the Gdańsk Shipyard. Ewa’s contribution stems from a walk I co-devised in 2017 with Anna Miler and Metropolitanka during Riverside Solidarity. The SWaC team and I have since drawn on that work and research to quote women from both places, while walking in the footsteps of Govan’s women activists.

 

  

 

 

CAPTIONS CLOCKWISE: Images from Strong Women of the Clydeside ‘artWalk’, 7 Sept 2019

1: Walking along the River Clyde

2: At the gates of Fairfield Shipyard

3: In front of Plantation Productions, sharing about Helen Kyle and Kinning Park Complex

4: ‘Macleod Street’ sign marks where Mary Barbour lived in 1901, near Govan Old Church

5: Chalking the number of Govan’s dead during WW1, and (nearby) the number of people who marched for the cause of peace – honouring both

6: Street sign / temporary graffiti and roses left at Fairfield Shipyard gate

It was a great pleasure to share a SWaC artwalk with the Memory of Water team, both as a way to impart some of Govan’s history, and because we had the opportunity to hear their thoughts about our work and process. I’m excited to see how the other artists develop creative work in Govan, as there is such a wealth of history and community organisations here. For myself, I plan to devise something different from my previous and more durational performance works, as a way to stretch and challenge my own creative practice in a place I’ve been privileged to work for the last decade.

 

T. S. Beall
03 Dec 2019

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

 

03 Dec 2019

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

 

26 Sep 2019

Govan City Lab – Artists Research Residency

Friday 6th September 2019

Memory of Water’s first international City lab in Govan (the second one is scheduled for June 2020) took place in Film City which is located in the magnificent (and fairly newly refurbished) old Govan Town Hall. The organisation running the building now rents offices, production and post-production spaces to creative media companies. Our urban lab was a hugely successful full day of exploration of the main themes of Memory of Water.

The overall theme of the Lab was the role of participatory arts practice and artistic interventionism in future planning for post-industrial heritage zones in Europe.Read More

16 Sep 2019

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.

Read More

27 Aug 2019

Govan Artists Research Residency

Summary

Our residency was constructed as an intensive cultural mapping process. The objective: to support our visiting artists to uncover as much as possible in the history, heritage, landscape, people, story, myths, legends, architecture and memory of Govan and its context within Glasgow.

Our overall aim was to start with the big picture: like a drone eye in the sky overlooking the Strathclyde valley with the scope of the whole River Clyde gradually zooming in to look closely at identified people and places of interest.Read More

18 Jul 2019

Govan City Lab – Turning the Tide On the Clyde

Background

The River Clyde has the label “post industrial” in the 21st Century, as vast swathes of derelict land peppered with fading ship building and other industrial infrastructure compete with crumbling quay walls and silted basins to ensure the image is decaying heritage rather than future building. Turning the Tide On the Clyde is a Clyde Docks Preservation Initiative project designed to address how the River and Firth of Clyde could be better connected and more active as a diverse maritime region. The launch event for this initiative was created in partnership with Memory of Water (a pan European, 6 Cities project exploring the role of artists in post industrial community settings) Fablevision, Govan Docks Regeneration Trust and a wide range of stakeholders with an interest in a thriving post industrial (or increasingly it seems, re-industrial) River Clyde.Read More