Inside Platform's Outskirts Festival

Platform programmer Alun Woodward talks us through The Conversation and what makes Outskirts Festival unique

Feature by Ben Venables | 09 Apr 2018
  • Breakfast Muff

Outskirts Festival returns to Easterhouse for its sixth year with a wide-ranging programme of new art and unusual collaborations. Platform, the community's hub, hosts the day's celebrations in its variety of spaces. Even the swimming pool is subject to a takeover, with Glasgow arts collective Love Unlimited getting creative in and around the water.

Alun Woodward is Platform's music programmer and behind one of the most novel events. The Easterhouse Conversation is an annual collaboration between professional musicians and residents, setting the stories of local lives to contemporary music.

"I thought it'd be nice to have a project which had a musical snapshot of a time and place," says Woodward, on the genesis of the idea. "Involvement in art in any form is a life-enhancing experience for people. And, since we have this incredible building, and so many wonderful people and musicians in Glasgow, I thought it'd be good to actually pair them up and create something unique."

The collaborators enjoy carte blanche in creating their own take on the idea. "I didn't want it to be prescriptive in any way, where you have to talk about x, y and z. If you want to talk about something in that moment, a social issue to do with housing or employment law, then that's fine. But, if you want to talk about your love of American films of the late 80s, then that's entirely legitimate too."

The project has attracted an impressive cast of musicians, all bringing different notes and textures to each creation. Past Conversations include the folk sounds of RM Hubbert and Drew Wright (Wounded Knee) and the electronica of Tuff Love's Suse Bear and Errors' Steev Livingstone. Kathryn Joseph, Marcus Mackay and Twilight Sad's James Graham released their Out Lines collaboration as the album Conflats last year.

This year's Conversation comes from Golden Teacher's Oliver Pitt and Barry Burns, from indie station Radiophrenia. They are looking to embed the recordings with residents into the final mix. 

"It goes back to the idea of having a snapshot," says Woodward. "If we manage to keep this going for years and years, we'll be able to look back and have an idea of the people involved, and what people were writing about, the stories people were telling."

Another musical collaboration in tune with the community comes from KOR! Records – an independent record label creating music projects for young people with support needs – working together with pop-punk three-piece Breakfast Muff. "The people from KOR! Records are involved in a lot of different art projects," Woodward tells us, about his admiration for one of their endeavours, Switch. "A lot of young people grow up who aren't even particularly musical, but at some point want to play as part of a band. And KOR! helps them."

Other highlights from the programme include writers James Kelman and Tom Leonard, with researcher Joey Simons, introducing the work of the late Freddie Anderson. Then there's Turntable, by Michael John McCarthy and Martin O’Connor, which invites listeners to explore the contents of a touring record case. And Laurie Brown brings intriguing sound installation Analogue, seeking out connections with his personal collection of cassette tapes. 

There's an appearance from Kate Clayton – sometimes known as the Art Scrubber – who highlights the mundane jobs creatives often take in parallel to their artistic work. And visual artists Janie Nicoll and Ailie Rutherford present IN KIND, which looks at the 'below the waterline' economy of the arts. 

The full programme can be viewed at platform-online.co.uk


Outskirts Festival, Platform, 1000 Westerhouse Road, Glasgow, 28 Apr, 3.30pm, £7.50-10 (under 16s free)