Albert Drive: Who is Your Neighbour?

Launched last year, Albert Drive aims to bring together the multi-cultural communities of Glasgow's Pollokshields. July sees the project's culmination with a series of events in Tramway

Feature by Eric Karoulla | 02 Jul 2013

In our age of near-constant digital connectivity, with the development of e-commerce, and the social media explosion, it is nonetheless very easy to feel isolated and alone. The Albert Drive project, based around the eponymous street in Glasgow's Pollokshields, is a response to this, examining the question “Who is my neighbour?”. 

Co-produced by Glas(s) Performance and Tramway, the Albert Drive project kicked off in October 2012. Thus far, over 1500 people have been involved directly with the project, demonstrating that art can draw people together. Through various creative activities, the Albert Drive and Pollokshields community has been encouraged to learn about who they live next door to. This large-scale community project is also an opportunity for Tramway itself to consider its relationship to its surroundings.

"The work that we make is always about the performers and their stories," remarks Tashi Gore, one of the artistic directors of Glas(s) Performance. 

One of the schemes resulting from this is Letters to Our Neighbours, which is exactly what it says on the tin. Through letter-writing workshops, Glas(s) have encouraged over 1000 local residents to write letters to each other, many of which are showcased on lampposts all along the Drive. This scheme was also taken into primary schools, along with workshops about the Albert Drive Neighbourhood Watch. 

The Neighbourhood Watch involves a team of young scooter drivers who patrol up and down the street, seeking to celebrate the everyday. They engage with the younger members of the community, organising fun events in the area. 

Furthermore, Glas(s) Performance came up with the concept of Everybody's House. Designed by Edo Architecture – led by Andy McAvoy and Ann Nisbet – the portable transparent house appears at various points along the Drive and acts as a place for the community to meet, have tea, and chat. 

Aside from the strong community engagement making use of letter-writing and neighbourhood watch initiatives, the Albert Drive project also incorporates a cross-disciplinary residency programme. This involves five artists working closely with the community to explore what it is to be a neighbour through their own practices, namely Arpita Shah, Basharat Khan, Janice Parker, Shauna McMullan, and Nic Green.

Shah is working with local Muslim, Sikh, and Christian women to investigate the wearing of the veil through photography. Visual artist McMullan is trying to reinvent the Pantone colour chart as an Albert Drive colour chart, collecting residents' favourite colours. Meanwhile, Glasgow-based filmmaker Basharat Khan is setting up Albert Drive TV, a ‘community channel’ installed in shops on Albert Drive, which screens short documentaries made with the local residents. With local residents of all ages and abilities, independent choreographer Janice Parker explores the idea and stories behind living room dances. Vivarium by Nic Green collates the various voices that form Albert Drive into a one-person audio experience inside the walls of the New Victoria Gardens. 

The entire project is due to culminate in a series of events in Tramway over the weekend of 6 and 7 July 6, and will include three performances devised by Glas(s) Performance, an exhibition showcasing the resident artists' work, and a shared meal that is being put together by 17 local businesses, community groups, and food providers.

Albert Drive: Performance, Tramway 1, Sat 6 Jul, 3 & 7.30pm, Sun 7 Jul, 7.30pm

Exhibition, Tramway 5, Sat 6 Jul-Sun 6 Aug

Shared Meal, Tramway 4, Sat 6 Jul, 1-3pm and 5-7pm, Sun 7 Jul, 5-7pm