Memory of Water EU was a six-city (Gdansk, Gothenburg-Stockholm, Govan, Levadia, Limerick, Ostend) Creative Europe-funded project which set out to answer the question: What’s next for post-industrial waterfront heritage zones in Europe?
Our lead partner was Intercult, Sweden, and we had a range of NGOs, social enterprises and public sector organisations in the partnership mix. Fablevision was the Scottish partner with t s Beall, the social engaged lead artist responsible for delivering residency programmes in Levadia, Gdansk and Govan. From Ostend, Belgium, the city council arts department nominated street artist, Siegfried Vynck. Levadia, Greece, another local authority partner, nominated performance artist Ira Brami, whilst our partner in Limerick, Ireland, was a visual arts organisation, Ormston House, with visual artist, Mary Conroy. Gdansk, represented by Nadbałtyckie Centrum Kultury, introduced visual artist, Iwona Zając, whilst Intercult contributed film director, Jonas Mystrand.
Being involved has been a massive capacity building process for Fablevision in many ways: our profile and social media presence has been boosted exponentially; our project collaboration in Govan with activists, artists, architects, politicians and planners has first of all stopped the building of 750 high rise flats on Govan’s iconic, A-listed Graving Docks, then supported the developer to change plans and prioritise heritage, industry, tourism and recreation. Finally, by December 2020, we learned that Glasgow City Council has removed the Victorian dry docks site from the housing register so it is no longer zoned for housing. There is no doubt that without international benchmarking (in particular with the historic shipyard in Gdansk, Poland, whose iconic cranes were given protected status, and which, as of December 2020, is well on the way to having the whole shipyard area designated with UNESCO World Heritage site status) partnership with artists and academics, urban lab discussions, and the high profile residencies themselves, none of this would have happened.
An unexpected aspect of the learning and development for Fablevision was the arrival of Covid-19 which could have scuppered the whole project but in fact allowed us to invent whole new methods for delivering participatory artist residencies remotely that involved local people, community organisations and Govan-based artists in the delivery! Substantive research and relationship building gained during the first residency in 2019 coupled with the close, trusting relationships of partners and the expertise, professionalism and dedication of the artists involved, transformed disaster into opportunity and delivered output of exceptional quality.
The benefits are almost too numerous to list but leverage of match funding; the ability to remain within the European project at a time when Brexit is dragging us out; legacy developments like new East European project partners from Georgia and Ukraine and new projects like Woven Network are a few highlights.
We are very sad that we have been unable to be a lead partner on Memory of Water EU and are now reduced to third country status going forward but we hope this will be temporary and we are determined to continue working with current partners as well as forging new ones.
As the two year journey now draws to a close, you can catch up on some of the amazing dialogues and digital exhibitions of the artists’ work via the following links: