Collaborating with: Gorbals Arts Project
Gorbals Arts Project was founded as a community group over 30 years ago, with chairman Bill Sharkey as the driving force for the past 20: committed to working in partnership with local communities & private organisations to produce artwork in the development of arts-led regeneration.
We have worked with the team at Gorbals Arts Project over many years on a variety of projects and they have always enriched these projects with their expertise and historical knowledge of their community. We met up with Liz Peden last month to talk about the value of community connection and improving public spaces in the Gorbals and beyond.
Describe what you do at Gorbals Arts Project?
The main goal of GAP was always to connect with our local community. We have always genuinely believed in the positive impact that community led art projects have on those who live here, and we have been involved in many activities that prove that theory.
We have worked within our local area providing tuition and workshops to local people of all ages, as well as working in partnership with local groups and statutory agencies to provide artwork that improves the local area giving people a sense of pride and ownership of their own communities.
When we had our own workshop/studio we offered a drop-in service and hosted ‘talking shops’ which created a space for people within the community to gather and debate, discuss and feedback on development plans for the area and just to catch up about life in the Gorbals in general which was always a great success. We are fortunate that the Gorbals community have consistently shown interest and been keen to actively participate in these kinds of discussions which has inevitably led to the progress we have seen in this area over the years.
How has GAP developed over the years since it began?
Our role was always evolving as we were reliant on funding to keep the project alive, and so when funding was unavailable, public and private commissions became an important part of the work at GAP as the money earned through these artworks allowed us to continue to provide our outreach services free of charge.
Projects were developed from workshops with groups where the design process is worked through from beginning to end. The final designs then developed, and a piece of public art produced based on the designs produced by the community, a process we have always thoroughly enjoyed.
How important is collaboration to you and your work?
For us, without collaboration, our work wouldn’t exist. Our sole purpose is community engagement, and we are here to support the need for that type of collaboration. We have often acted as the mediator between the community and other organisations.
We have been lucky that over the years we have had so many artists, crafts people, designers & architects get involved with the Gorbals Arts Project to facilitate workshops, engage in talking shops or because they live locally and wanted to be involved. Most have really immersed themselves in our work and have taught us as much as we have taught them, allowing us to develop our own individual skills and practice through a kind of skill sharing programme over the years, which has benefitted the project and our local community immensely.
What’s next for Gorbals Arts Project?
As it happens, the Gorbals Art Project is going to be dissolved this month (August 2021). It has been a few years since we have had a physical space and as a community group that kind of in person activity is vital to successful, engaging work; to have a place for people to debate and discuss what is going on within their locality and without that we feel it makes sense to wind up GAP.
Also, my colleague and friend Claire Flanagan who was at the helm of the project with me, sadly passed away last year after a short illness and so now seems the right time for me to retire and hopefully the legacy of GAP will create space for new community groups.
We are pleased to be closing on a high as our most recent collaboration with Page\Park, 166 Gorbals Street, won a Scottish Design Award last month.
Artwork Commissions created by Liz and her team at Gorbals Arts Project can be seen around the Gorbals area including the Gorbals Boys on Cumberland Street and the Corten panels on the side of 166 Gorbals Street.