Music/ Art and Money

Music/ Art and Money

Brilliant John Peel lecture by Iggy Pop.

Some of my favourite bits

Money as a symbol of love.

“The best way to survive the death or change of an industry is too transcend its form. You are better of with an identity of your own. Better yet a few of them.

It’s interesting that capital investment for all its posturing never really leads. It follows. 

Be yourself in a consistent way, follow your nose.

Dream! Be generous.

Money, it kills everything and fails to reflect its own image.

Try hard to diversify your skills and your interests.”

How do we stay nourished as practitioners and as artists?

How do we stay nourished as practitioners and as artists?

I attended Artists Connect in Conversation, organised by Alice McGrath in collaboration with Artworks Scotland. It was a brilliant open space session on participatory creative practice that started with the question  “How do we stay nourished as practitioners and as artists?”

There were about 9 of us and we had a brilliantly wide ranging discussion with some great ideas,  insights and a little bit of therapy. Here’s what I learned;

– There was a brilliant story from one of the ladies about an artists talk she’d attended. He’d been commissioned to work in Easterhouse, Glasgow and had a meeting with the councillors & funders in a snazzy city centre location. He got everyone out of the space, bundled them into a van (basically kidnapped them) and took them to Easterhouse where he’d set up a meeting table and seats outside right in the middle of some tower blocks. Apparently they looked absolutely terrified in the photos. His thing was we’re not discussing this project away in a bubble away from the community it concerns. Brilliant!

– Pick a job title that’s familiar. I’d been thinking about a job title for what I do as Tactician, a sailing role but as it was pointed out sailing conjures up images of floating and being all over the place. Also it’s a word that most people aren’t familiar with. Facilitator is much better, thanks Lowri!

– Artists as documenters, how can evaluations/ reports be more interesting. Always thinking what was the original intention? What has it become? 

– Imagine that your ears are by your waist. Picturing your ears by your waist forces you firstly to sit back and secondly to listen. Half the time we just want to be heard. We don’t need a solution, the answer is already within us.

– Some ways to create headspace. One that I want to try out is Morning Pages, I was pleasantly surprised to hear how effective they have been. I just need to get up a bit earlier in the morning!

– Open Space. The session was run using the Open Space technique which is new for me and I thought was brilliant it meant that we could speak openly and comfortably because there was no real agenda. I’ll definitely be looking more into it. 


Kelly Sue DeConnick: Make Them Uncomfortable

Kelly Sue DeConnick: Make Them Uncomfortable from 99U on Vimeo.

This talk is amazing not just because of Kelly’s words of wisdom but because it’s the first time I’ve seen someone apologise for not taking the opportunity to write a more diverse story. Really touched me!

Here are her insights into how to make people uncomfortable
  1. Lead with your heart– follow your truth
  2. Find your group– people are willing to be uncomfortable together, be vulnerable, your uncomfortable audience
  3. Foster community
  4. Listen– you must listen, it’s a gift of intimacy we make the maps that illustrate our connections, listen with our whole hearts and imagine what the world must look like from another perspective
  5. Seek to be uncomfortable yourself– “You don’t get to be a good guy just because you figure you’re not a bad guy”
Learnings in community arts practice

Learnings in community arts practice

I came to the end of my course in community arts practise, with Impact Arts last week and it seems like a perfect opportunity to reflect on my learnings over the last 6 months.


Everything I’ve learned  comes under the umbrella of “be flexible.” We each got a mentor on the course and her biggest tip was, make a plan, see how things go but have a plan B. For my individual project I wanted to get young people to come and engage with Orkidstudio’s EMPOWERMENT exhibition at the Lighthouse Glasgow. I did everything I could think of to get them along, promoting it to youth groups and local schools. But for a mix of reasons, I didn’t get a single teenager along. I was however able to engage with visitors to the exhibition, asking them to participate in building the collaborative cardboard city. This ended up being a wonderful way to do it. Although I didn’t get many teenagers I did get a mix of age groups from children to adults.


With this also comes the need to think about the final result and the impact of the project. Sometimes the client wants a particular thing to display but other times they are more focused on the participation. This was the case with our group project at Darnley Primary School, we let the children decide what they wanted for the project at the start. Starting with a sound and drawing workshop encouraged them to get some ideas going and some themes started to emerge. We realised that a lot of the sounds reminded them of animals and this led to coming up with the idea of making a totem pole.


One of the most interesting things about participation is learning to work with a mix of people. From the organisation, to the client group to working with other practitioners. You never know what people will ask you or what mood they will be in that day. I did my placement withe Creative Pathways, Paisley. It was a fascinating opportunity to see the group of young people from the interview stage to the middle of the project. They started as a lovely group of young people willing to engage with but new additions created more disruptive group dynamics and it was a learning experience to see how the facilitator dealt with it.

a1 x1

Engaging with people is a mixed bag. You never know how they will react to your proposal. I found this at the cardboard city workshops. The people who would join in would often be the ones I wasn’t expecting to take part.  It is about creating relationships and one of the simplest ways I’ve discovered is to learn names.

Additionally everyone comes with their own abilities, interests and perspectives. Abilities vary so trying to keep a level playing field whilst making it stimulating for as many as possible is important. With Darnley Primary, the sound and painting workshop worked brilliantly but it was more difficult when we used mud rock. Surprisingly when we got feedback from the kids they loved that it was challenging.

Be prepared to wear a lot of hats. Successful participation involves pre planning, monitoring the finances, communication, e.t.c not just working with people. You might even end up working in things you know nothing about. You have to shake your fears of failure or the unknown, especially if your asking others to do so too.

Finally record the process, this is one of the hardest bits especially if you are working alone, but photographs tell the story so much more. They are a great way to build your reputation and show others what you’ve done. Additionally give people something to take with them. It makes them feel so much more connected and is something I learned from the kids feedback at Darnley. I then used it in the cardboard city so each participant got a Polaroid photo to take with them.

For me the best part is seeing people grow more confident in their creative skills own creativity. From the teachers at Darnley Primary who by the end of the workshops were making things in their own spare time, to seeing people who said they were bad at art building a cardboard building and being proud of what they’d made.  I realised that even if you can get only one person to engage it can be incredibly rewarding.!

Before I die… Public Art Project

Before I die… Public Art Project

Before I die is an interactive public art project, initiated by Candy Chang that invites people to share their personal aspirations in public space.

How did it get started?
Candy been making work exploring ways to share more with her neighbours using simple tools. The death of a loved one really affected her and made her think hard about death. So she decided to start this experiment creating an anonymous place to help restore perspective and connect with her neighbours.
alt= Before I die 
Why? What change are they trying to make/ believe in/ problem trying to solve?
Before I die… seeks to turn public/ shared space into a place for reflection and connection. To reflect on life and share contemplations and aspirations.

How are they doing this? what is the process?
It is done by turning walls into giant chalkboards, with the stencilled question, “before I die….” They have created a toolkit, and the project has spread worldwide.
What is the impact? 

It turns “neglected spaces into constructive ones”.

Who is it?
The project was started by Candy Chang and has since gone global.

Edward Burtynsky

Edward Burtynsky

Inspired by Simon Sinek’s Start with the Why. I’m going to try writing about People and Projects by starting with the why and how they got started, to understand how they are making a positive social impact.
Edward Burtynsky the fantastic photographer who captures the epic scales of mans effect on the environment is my first attempt.
How did he get started?
In his TED talk, Burtynsky he speaks of growing up with his father who loved the outdoors and experiencing the sights and images of the General Motors plant in his home town, where his father also worked. After graduating from a BAA in Photography and Media Studies he founded Toronto Image works a darkroom rental facility, digital imaging and new media training company.
He tried for years to photograph the pristine landscape and felt himself being sucked into the calendar picture genre. So he started to ask himself, how can I rethink the landscape? His epiphany came one day when he was lost in Pennsylvania, and ended up in a coal mining town called Frackville, which had the most surreal landscape he’d ever seen. A landscape totally transformed by man. Burtynsky decided to start seeking out mines like it and the largest industrial landscapes he could find.
edward burtynsky 4
Why? What change are he trying to make?
In his TED talk, Edward explains that the change he is trying to make with his work is to make us question on the impact our lifestyles are having on the environment and on people around the globe. It “looks at it, and tries to remind us that our built environment comes from somewhere, and that we just have ignored it”
edward burtynsky 1 
How is he doing this? what is the process?
He does this by making beautiful photographs that use scale as a way of showing this impact and the large scale changes that are taking place. He photographs landscapes that have been altered by large- scale human activity. His photography of China, is a prime example of this. By focusing on the wastelands that have been left behind Burtynsky uses photography as a tool for depicting this reality.
What is the impact? 
Burtynsky’s work calls for us to have ongoing global conversations about sustainable living.