Making Space Discussion @ Glasgow Women's Library

Feature by Jac Mantle | 05 Mar 2011

"What have women ever done for Scotland? Nothing!" says the Glasgow Women’s Library website. "Or at least that’s the conclusion we might draw if we look around our towns and cities."

Only three statues in Glasgow are of women and only one of these is a Glaswegian, a fact at the fore in the Library’s artist-led project Making Space: Towards a New Public Artwork.

As well as redressing the invisibility of women’s achievements in Scotland’s civic landscapes, artists in residence Shauna McMullan and Nicky Bird investigate collaborative ways of working, and develop their projects with the library’s learners and staff.

McMullan’s Blue Spine Collection collates books donated by women across the country, while Bird has worked with a group at the library to develop her audio installation Unsorted Donations.

An invited discussion took place on 3 February to review the project and discuss ways forward for the future. As ever with art symposia, discussion time was curbed due to presentations running late. Once it arrived, however, it proved fruitful. The artists and participants alike valued the prioritising of process over outcome, and the atmosphere of trust enabled things to happen out of play and speculation.

Adele Patrick contrasted the benefits of dialogue with her conviction that there remains a need for a properly visible public artwork in the city, yet one that avoids aping the patriarchal monument tradition. In response, it was remarked that the range of voices in the project has democratised the monument, while at the same time disseminating knowledge. Not too shabby, then.

Far from Artist Talks smug with too much congratulating, here the primary enthusiasts were the participants. Where we go from here remains to be seen, but in an environment where dialogue is central, the usefulness of this discussion is guaranteed.

15 Berkeley Street Glasgow G3 7BW