The Fablevision-Wh•eat cafe event – featuring the works Ursula Kam-Ling Cheng, Deirdre Nelson, Audrey O’Brien, Ailie Rutherford, Donna Rutherford, Alex Wilde – attracted a lot of local attention.
Our sister organisation, Fablevision Studios, was also on hand to film and interview t s Beall (the lead artist on the Woven Network Govan) at her installation on the Mary Barbour statue at Govan Cross.
The aim of the artworks and events is to highlight the role played by female carers – paid and unpaid – during the Covid19 pandemic.
Fablevision and the Wh•eat cafe are delighted to invite you to the Woven in Govan drop-in event! Artworks in support and acknowledgement of the role played by women – paid and unpaid – in the current Covid19 pandemic will be on display. These include works by ts Beall, Ursula Kam-Ling Cheng, Deirdre Nelson, Audrey O’Brien, Ailie Rutherford, Donna Rutherford, Alex Wilde.
The event will take place this coming Friday, September 3rd at the Wh•eat Cafe, 1121 Govan Road, from 2:00pm to 4:00pm.
Spoken Words written by Ruth Little has been used by Deirdre Nelson as one of the elements in her artistic submissions for the Woven Network Govan project.
Deirdre Nelson is one of the 7 artists coming together for Fablevision’s Woven in Govan – part of the Woven Network European collaborative 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.
Sound On, which was produced for Fablevision’s Woven In Govan Project by artists, Alex Wilde and Ailie Rutherford, captures the voices of local women engaged in caring for others. “We talked with women about formal and informal care, paid and unpaid labour and personal reflections on how we care for each other, our communities and our society. These women are passionate about the communities of people they support and are involved with; in hospitals, community gardens, social justice projects and housing campaigns. Drawing on our own experiences and listening to the experiences of women who live and work in Govan involved in collective care, caring far beyond their immediate bubbles, a set of ideologies and demands evolved for centering a post-pandemic recovery on care. The resulting diagram (a visual manifesto) pulls together some of the key themes and ideas we discussed with the women we interviewed, turning them into demands for change. Our simple diagram could never convey the depth and richness of each conversation but we hope it goes some way to highlighting the incredible work and vibrant intellect of the women whoso generously gave their time to these conversations.”
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.
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.
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.
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)
Ursula Kam-Ling Cheng’s piece for the Woven in Govan project was shaped through engagement sessions with local women – the final work exists as a representation of these conversations, featuring quotes and key themes relating to the care burden placed upon women. Ursula’s piece is currently on display at the wh·eat Cafe on Govan Road.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.