Woven Network Govan at the Wh·eat Cafe

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.

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.

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.

Woven in Govan: Deirdre Nelson

The latest artist to join the Woven Network project for the Woven in Govan is Deirdre Nelson, an Irish artist/designer based in Glasgow, who uses the medium of textiles to explore humour, place and social history. In her first action as part of the project, Nelson asks us to consider what we understand by the word ‘care’.

She partners traditional techniques with contemporary processes such as digital print in creating work not only to be exhibited but on artist residencies, within education and community projects. Resulting works cross over art, design and craft. Deirdre enables the communities she works with to explore social and environmental issues through making. She also works to commission for arts and healthcare organisations. Collaborating with creatives such as architects, musicians and writers allows her to create and produce diverse projects.

Deirdre studied textiles at Glasgow School of Art 1992 and a M.Philosophy in 1996. She has exhibited internationally and nationally and undertaken residencies both in the UK and Australia, including: including: The Kildas, Glasgow School of Art+touring 2016; Designed with Heart, St Etienne Design Bienalle 2019; Between the Kine, Harbourfront Arts Centre, Toronto, Canada, 2013; White, La Porte Peinte Centre Pour Les Artes, Noyers sur Serein, Burgundy, France.

Commissions include: Orchard View continuing care facility 2016; Edinburgh Royal infirmary 2009; Residencies include: Walthamstow Wetlands 2017/8; Textilsetur Islands, Iceland 2018; Caterans CommonAlyth, Scotland 2017; Platform Arts, Easterhouse, Glasgow 2016.

Woven in Govan: Audrey O’Brien

Audrey O’Brien – an Irish-born artist based in Glasgow, who works across photography, collage, sculpture, and curated events through a socially engaged practice – is the latest artist to join in the Woven in Govan part of the Woven Network project.

A background of employment in social care heavily informed her work in Arts and Health, Arts and Disability, and pedology. With both playfulness and seriousness having equal parts in her practice she is influenced by the Dada art movement. Her long-standing passion for this cultural and political art led to researching unfamiliar artists from this period and developing both collaborative and educational programme for community and school contexts. Creating interactive art works and focusing on the senses is essential to her creative exploration. Through working with diverse groups which as residents in supported housing to forest rangers and scientists she is a firm believer in collaborative production and democratising creative activity.

Recent projects include co-creating a self-led guide for Seven Lochs Wetland Park and collaborating with composer Sonia Allori with Sonic Bothy. She contributed to the School for Civic Imagination CCA Glasgow, a structured programme addressing socially engaged research and practices.

Woven in Govan: Alex Wilde

Alex Wilde visual artist who is interested in spaces for social and cultural exchange, particularly those which facilitate the growth of community and community activism. Much if this has focused on temporary and permanent community gardens, cafes and places for play. She sets out to animate existing connections and relationships and create new ones through collaborative projects with communities, using different tools, props and sets each time.

Ailie and Alex will share their Woven in Govan commission (as part of the Woven Network project).They have collaborated previously on the Creative Communities residency with Glasgow City Council (2019) and Manifesto for A Feminist Economy for Festival of New Economic Thinking and Kinning Park Complex (2018) and Swap Market exchange space (2018 – 2019). Both artists use their practice to critique our economic and political systems and imagine new inclusive futures, and each has 20 years’ experience in social and collaborative arts practice.

Woven in Govan: Ailie Rutherford

Woven in Govan is part of the European artist collaboration, Woven Network, with Intercult (Sweden) & PlatformTU (Ukraine). Fablevision is really excited to be a part of it and the first artist will be Ailie Rutherford.

Ailie is a pioneering visual artist and agitator. For over twenty years she has been collaborating and inviting people to become co-producers of work, activate public space and collectively imagine productive alternatives to the way we live. Her work explores the relationship between community activism and creative practice, deliberately provoking and asking difficult questions in order to propose new models for living and working together.

Initiated by Ailie in 2015, and now collectively run, The People’s Bank of Govanhill is a long-term social artwork and feminist community currency project in Glasgow. In 2019 Ailie also co-developed String Figures, a new collaborative software that allows activist, feminist and creative groups working for social justice to support and strengthen each other’s work through de-centralised open-source networks centred on a principle of mutual care.