Woven Network Govan Recruits an Icon

Govan-based artist tsBeall uses the Mary Barbour statue outside Govan underground station to project the importance of women as the principal carers during the present Covid19 crisis. In the history of Govan and Glasgow, Barbour rose from obscurity to prominence by a combination of an indomitable spirit, humanity and acumen, yet until relatively recently, she was a figure almost lost to history.

The Woven Network Govan, part of the Woven (Womens) Network, is an arts-based project which is determined to give voice, notice and credit to the role of women as the principal carers, professionally and domestically, during the present crisis.

Giving Voice to Carers

Donna Rutherford is one of seven artists coming together to take part in Fablevision’s Woven in Govan project – highlighting the experiences of women during the Covid-19 pandemic and the historical burden of care placed upon women in society as a whole. Donna’s work is an audio piece, featuring interviews with women on their experiences over the last year in the Covid climate and the effect the pandemic has had on them and their lives. Here is a small taste of her full 15-minute long piece, currently being exhibited at the wh·eat cafe in Govan.

Posters for Woven Network Govan

Future art installations, walks and other events associated with the Woven Network Govan artists can be accessed here or via Fablevision’s Instagram and Facebook accounts.  Fablevision Studios is providing Fablevision with video, design, photography and social media services in support of Woven Network Govan, including this video short of Audrey O’Brien’s nature walk.

TS Beall’s installations in Elder Park, Govan and the Mary Barbour monument at Govan station, focus attention on the role women have played during the Covid19 pandemic. In this particular instance the work uses two existing public monuments to prominent Govan women of the past to project the activities of women who bear the burden of care in the present.

Watch this space for future events involving the Woven Network Govan artists: Audrey O’Brien, Deirdre Nelson, Alex Wilde, Ailie Rutherford, Donna Rutherford, TS Beall and Ursula Kam-Ling Cheng.

Nature and Nurture in Govan

Audrey O’Brien’s work for the Woven in Govan project, outlines the importance and significance of interdependence. “I’m an artist, working across photography, collage, sculpture and live events. For example, bringing people on curated walks, like the one featured here. I am very curious about how we use our senses. My projects raise awareness of our own senses.

For Woven in Govan, and it’s micro-commission, seven artists were to highlight or respond to women’s experiences during the pandemic. Covid-19 has taught us that the health of all life on the planet is connected – humans, animal, plants, entire ecosystems all mutually dependent. This all happens here in Moogety garden; growing, cooking, eating together In an Open garden.”

(Music Credit:Music By @PeyruisSong: Dreamer – Cinematic Mood Acoustic GuitaMusic promoted by No Copyright Music Vlog. Video Link: https://youtu.be/CC7KN9hMteo)

Keeping Scotland’s Place in Europe

Fablevision has developed partnerships in Europe for almost 40 years.  This has always been “glocal and inter-local” (i.e. local issues shared with communities/communities of interests at a local level that have global interest and impact). Those projects have included arts and disability (leading to the formation of Birds of Paradise) – and more recently, Memory of Water EU, looking at the role of artists in future planning for post industrial waterfront heritage zones.

Memory of Water EU was originally 6 cities and on the journey we discovered that local communities are on the one hand most vulnerable but on the other, have huge resilience that could be channeled and supported. We also identified that the next ‘shock’ about to hit those same communities is climate change.

The plan for Memory of Water EU was to develop the next stages – a large-scale collaboration involving existing and new partners in the exploration. However,  Brexit has interrupted play:  although we understand both education and culture are devolved matters for the Scottish Government, we find ourselves excluded from both Erasmus and Creative Europe because the UK Government has made the unfathomable decision to remove all four of the home nations of the UK from those funding programmes.

Undaunted, we are rekindling relationships with like-minded Scottish artists and activists: reawakening an organisation, established by cultural activist Helen Kyle with incredible prescience in 1996 called Scotland in Europe (SIE).

Scotland in Europe (SIE) has been working between Glasgow and Paris: bringing artists together in partnership, amity and in the spirit of cultural collaboration over the intervening decades SIE is an idea whose ‘time has come’.  The departing Scottish MEP Alyn Smith begged the EU to ‘leave a light on for Scotland so that we can find our way home’. Scotland in Europe is that light.  A beacon for cultural co-operation and learning exchange in the darkness that is Brexit, SIE will support Scottish artists and cultural organisations to continue the relationships, partnerships and projects that have been/will be developed in the future.

Europe stands in solidarity with Scotland. Lights are coming on all over mainland Europe… We have already established SIE ‘desks’  in Stockholm, Barcelona and Paris, with others in the pipeline through membership of the River Cities Network

Our vision remains what it has always been – collaborative, engaged and outward looking.

EU and No-EU: From the Centre to the Margin

Fablevision and its director, Elizabeth Gardiner, feature in Creative Europe’s review of European projects, “Stories From Creative Europe In The UK – 2014-2020”.

One of the great things about the greatest European project – the European Union – was its role in fostering a feeling of co-operation, friendship and interrelatedness among its constituent parts – 28 sovereign nation states sharing a commitment to the same future and direction. Amity had replaced enmity.

It was in this regard and spirit that Fablevision joined Intercult (Gothenburg and Stockholm, Sweden), Municipality of Levadia (Levadia, Greece), Nabaltyckie Centrum Kultury (Gdansk, Poland), Ormston House (Limerick, Ireland) and Stad Oostende (Oostende, Belgium) in the Memory of Water EU project, which explored the nature of heritage, urban regeneration and renewal in post-industrial riverine and seaboard communities. At its heart was the use of artistic interventions/residences to help explore, encourage and engage with communities which have often been ignored or sidelined. It asked the question: who decides the future of such places? The question needs asking as more often than not regeneration of post-industrial places and spaces involves the imposition of “solutions” without reference to the heritage of these places or engagement with the communities who live there.

Then came 23rd June, 2016 and Brexit. It remains to be seen what the level of engagement between the UK and EU-based cultural organisations will be post-Brexit. However, one thing is certain, there is now no common narrative or direction of travel. Aside from the obvious dislocation and disengagement, the UK and its organisations will no longer have access to the same level of cultural funding or the same access to the skills, knowledge and experience of our erstwhile European partners. It is already the case that interns and cultural professionals are not finding Britain as welcoming and easy to access as it once was.

Fablevision continues to work with European partners – notably Intercult (Sweden) and Mariupol Platform TU (Ukraine) – as part of the Woven Network project, and Bridging Digital, with organisations from Sweden, Greece and Poland, on how the community cultural sector in Europe is adapting post-pandemic.

What is now less clear is what the future holds for Scottish cultural organisations now that the UK is outwith the largest market and culturally dynamic bloc in the world.

Memory of Water EU Shortlisted for New Bauhaus Prize 2021

The Memory of Water EU project, on which Fablevision (Govan, Glasgow) worked with Ormston House (Limerick), the Municipality of Levadia (Levadia, Greece), Nadbałtyckie Centrum Kultury (Gdansk), Intercult (Gothenburg and Stockholm) and Stad Oostende (Oostende, Belgium), has been nominated and shortlisted for the European Commision’s New Bauhaus Prize 2021.

The artist-led project explored new approaches to urban regeneration, cultural planning and placemaking in post-industrial, waterside or riverine locations.

Caring and Crisis

Fablevision and partner social enterprise, Fablevision Studios, were out and about in Govan at the Wh·eat Cafe and the Moogety Garden at Elder Park, Govan, to shoot interviews with two of the artists involved in the Woven Network Govan – a part of the Woven//Women’s Stories project.

Ursula Kam-Ling Cheng, who has an installation at the Wheat Cafe, Linthouse, and Audrey O’Brien, who work includes tutored nature walks in the Moogety Garden and Elder Park, were on hand to discuss their work.

The Woven Network Govan forms part of a large artistic endeavour involving Ukraine, the Nordic countries (Denmark, Norway and Sweden) and Scotland (Govan, Glasgow), which is focussing on gathering and interpreting stories from the unheard – mainly female workers – who have juggled low-paid and frontline roles in places such as hospitals/care homes with caring for families during the Covid19 pandemic. The artworks that have arisen from this take as their themes care and community in a time of crisis.

Post-Pandemic: The Cockroaches of the Cultural Sector

During the 1980s and 90s, when social enterprise was an innovative concept in Scotland, Strathclyde Regional Council, Objective 3 Partnership and the Scottish Centre for Regeneration were surprised when Fablevision board members thanked them for turning down applications for funding on the grounds that we were ‘not sustainable’.  Having funding bids rejected forced Fablevision’s artists, like most other creative practitioners, to develop other, entrepreneurial business models that would allow them to continue their practice without compromising their vision or values and we thanked them for forcing us to be independent. Over the ensuing decades, Fablevision inherited furniture from Strathclyde Regional Council when they shut up shop; computer equipment from the Objective 3 Partnership when they closed and co-created learning materials on the demise of the Scottish Centre for Regeneration.  The ‘unsustainable’ small cultural social enterprise outlasted all the big beasts. Like other small cultural organisations, we were light on our feet – able to adapt and pivot creatively and meet the new requirements of whatever adverse social/economic/political circumstances presented. There is a joke in community-based cultural practice that practitioners of these arts are like ‘cockroaches will be after the nuclear holocaust – they will be the only living things to survive’.

For more than four decades, Fablevision has created ‘glocal’ experiments in artistic interventionism. Taking a cultural planning approach (and with the intention of making a difference), in the early years this involved supporting people with disabilities to find their voice and make stunning theatre, resulting in the formation of Birds of Paradise Theatre Company.  In the middle years, with partners in the Banlieues d’Europe network, we focused on place-based cultural planning in for example, north east Glasgow with the Royston Road Project and BoltFM. More recently, through collaborations with River Cities Network members on a project entitled, Memory of Water EU, we have worked in Govan with partners from Sweden, Poland, Greece, Ireland and Belgium asking what difference socially engaged, interventionist artists can make on post-industrial waterfront heritage zones: an exploration that has, over the last five years, expanded to include Ukraine and Georgia.

These international sharings of learning and practice are vital.  They provide the oxygen for locally based artists working in communities/communities of interest (as well as those local residents who gain inspiration from seeing what’s possible in other countries) to ‘keep going’ in the face of, at best, indifference and often, outright hostility from politicians and planners.  Artists empowering local people to speak out is one thing but empowerment to the extent of taking ownership; taking control and affecting transformation on their local area plans is not always welcomed by landowners and housing developers.

Fablevision survived the first waves of the Covid-19 pandemic thanks  to European funding (which helped to lever local and national ‘match’).  We concluded the final year of Memory of Water, (a major Creative Europe 6 cities, EU project) during 2020, delivering a ‘blended’ residency programme in spite of lockdown.

In early 2021, we secured a successful Erasmus bid to explore this experimentation with new working practices further. Over the next three years, collaborating with partners in Greece, Poland and Sweden, we will map examples of best practice in each of the participating countries: experimenting with case studies that will be delivered in real time. The ingredients for success will be unpacked, teased out, analysed and compared across the four partner countries. From these mappings and case study examples, we will create a set of learning materials  for artists, educationalists (formal and informal) and community arts organisations, to facilitate adaptations in post venue based performance arts.

All of this is now threatened by Brexit, however, as , over the last 5years, we have seen ourselves reduced from lead partner status to ‘ third  world country’ where we can’t participate in Creative Europe or Erasmus at all unless invited and subcontracted by an EU member state.

To be clear, it is not just the Fablevision business model that is under threat here. The whole premis of collaborative learning and sharing of practice with mutual understanding and in the spirit of shared values is now in jeopardy for all independent cultural organisations and practice based researchers throughout the UK.

Whilst many of our colleagues in the UK Creative Europe network of beneficiaries are moving themselves into mainland Europe or setting up satellite organisations in Cyprus, Paris and other welcoming ports in a storm, Fablevision is pondering available options. The jury is out on whether or not Brexit will spell the end of the line for Fablevision; if we can ‘pivot’ and survive the storm yet again,  or if reinstatement within the EU family will come in time to save us.

This article was first produced by Liz Gardiner for The Centre for Culture, Sport and Events (CCSE) website – the blog for the collaborative partnership between the University of the West of Scotland and Renfrewshire Council. CCSE will provide a space to undertake collaborative research and development work that has relevance for the Renfrewshire area, nationally and internationally.

Liz Gardiner is founder and Director of Fablevision and a PhD candidate at the University of the West of Scotland. All of the projects mentioned above have been developed with the support, partnership and supervision of colleagues within UWS.

Wanted! Admin Officer, Media Technician, Sales and Marketing Officer

Fablevision is looking for an Admin Officer, a Media Technician and a Sales and Marketing Officer to be employed under the terms of the government’s Kickstart programme. Applicants must be on Universal Credit and aged between 16-24 to be eligible. The role involves working 25hrs per week from 10am-4pm, Monday to Friday (TOIL is available if applicable) and will be paid at the minimum wage.

To apply, contact us at info@fablevision.org with your CV and the job title on the subject line. DEADLINE: 3rd May, 2021. Job descriptions available here: 1) Admin Officer; Media Technician; Sales and Marketing Officer.

Woven in Govan: ts Beall

Dr t s Beall is the Lead Artist for ‘Woven in Govan’, and was the lead Scottish artist for ‘Woven Network’ (2020), spanning five countries and led by Platform TU (Ukraine). Beall is a socially-engaged artist and researcher based in Dumfries and Glasgow, working with communities on durational projects to recover marginalised histories. Her work spans a variety of media including performative events, printed matter, and creative interventions in the public realm.

She is also one of ten commissioned artists on the Stove Network’s ‘Atlas Pandemica’, working with Travelling Showpeople to recover elements of Dumfries’ fairground histories (2020-21) and considering post-Covid positioning of creative projects in the public realm. Ongoing projects in Scotland include ‘Fair Scotland’ (with Showpeople, co-devised with Dr Mitch Miller), and ‘Protests and Suffragettes’ (recovering and highlighting women’s activism in Govan), both 2013-present. Beall was the lead Scottish artist for ‘Memory of Water’ (2018-2021), a project examining post-industrial waterfronts in six European cities, funded by Creative Europe. Her PhD with University of Glasgow (2017), collaborated with the Riverside Museum/Glasgow Museums, where her practice-led research developed engagement strategies for heritage institutions through co-curated events and participatory performance.

Woven in Govan: Ursula Kam-Ling Cheng

The latest artist to take part in this element of the Woven Network is Ursula Kam-Ling Cheng, a North Irish illustrator and visual artists based in Glasgow.

Woven in Govan is part of the European collaboration Woven Network with Intercult (Sweden) & PlatformTU (Ukraine). It concept and execution each part of the project is designed to focus on the often unsung role women have played during the continuing Covid19 pandemic and the various lockdowns.

Each artist’s work focuses on the different ways in which women have adapted and coped under the circumstances and how they have contributed markedly to the greater good.

Ursula’s work is created from life experiences combining surreal realities into a hyper colourful blend of contrasting and loaded line drawings. Often a mix of mediums are employed and explored on found surfaces and applications. Her work enjoys autonomy over the spirit of a place and seeks to bring charm and joy to viewers.

Her large-scale mural work has been commissioned by the V&A, Abertay University, Edinburgh University, Fringe Festival Society and Urban Outfitters to name a few.Within participatory creative facilitation her work aims to involve everyone, generate empowerment, build optimism and pride in communities. Her work combines a mix of mediums to create a unique hybrid of styles most distinctly her own and inspired by those interacting with it.

Woven in Govan: Donna Rutherford

Donna Rutherford is an artist who has specialised in theatre and video working since 1990. She mixes the roles of writer, performer, filmmaker and director.

Starting from a Live Art background she has developed solo and collaborative projects in the UK and abroad with a wide range of artists, musicians and community participants. The work stems from personal storytelling while combining psychology, social history and the distortion of memory – oh, and humour!

The work manages to make difficult subjects such as displacement, family relations, ageing, and miscommunication in relationships accessible to wide audiences while developing innovative forms of storytelling. Touring extensively across UK & Eire and performing in Belgium, Denmark, USA & Canada, she has consistently been awarded funding from English & CS/ Scottish Arts Councils (including International Initiatives,Live Art Commissions, NRLA Residencies, Partners Fund, Made in Scotland), alongside funding from BBC2 Commissions, Barclays New Stages Award, international festivals & residencies, Opera North, Arts & Humanities Research Council.

AHRC awarded Donna a Creative Fellowship 2003 – 2007 (between RSAMD, GSA& New Territories) which led to her working closely with Stirling University’s Memory Lab. (A previous collaboration involved another of Stirling University’s Psychology Departments – the Face Perception Lab in 2001). Alongside teaching and facilitating work for others she has co-ordinated symposium events bringing together experts in diverse subjects and produced a DVD of artists interviews entitled ‘Rearranging Realities’ which is still used as a teaching aid across UK, Eire, USA & Australia. Alongside commissioned art & theatre work she has always engaged with community-based projects, often working with vulnerable groups.

Organisations include Loretto Housing, Falkirk Criminal Justice Service Women’s Group, NHS Greater Glasgow, North Lanarkshire Council Social Work Dept – Older Persons Team, West Dunbartonshire Violence Against Women, Macmillan Centre via Artlink.