Glasgow Q&A: Govan Project Space's Alex Allan
Alex Allan, founder of Govan Project Space, on why an uninsulated warehouse near former dry docks is the perfect space for an arts venue
What is Govan Project Space?
We want to be a big space for showing ambitious work that sits somewhere between education and institution. We can offer a sort of semi-institutional scale space, fabrication facilities. So we're trying to encourage people to come to us with ideas for making new ambitious work which may not have had the chance before.
We got our first Creative Scotland funding just as the pandemic hit – our programme for 2020 was planned. Obviously COVID kind of scuppered things but we did manage to put on three shows during 2020, including Jacqueline Donachie, a major undertaking for us, and Tamara MacArthur. I'm really glad we did – there were moments where both the artists and ourselves were like, “Ah, should we be doing this? And can we do this safely?” But it seemed to have a good effect on people at the shows. People were really just openly thankful to us for putting something on – it's so nice to actually get out and see something in real life. It was quite heartwarming and sort of humbling to hear.
Our project with Jacqueline Donachie ended up lasting about two years – a temporary public artwork over at Govan Graving Docks, which was very critical and aware of access for people with mobility issues. We worked with Sculpture Placement Group – they have a kind of pilot programme so that the sculpture doesn't end up in storage after an event.
How connected are you with the local community?
One of the things we had planned when we got funding was to start making connections with people locally – primary schools and community groups. Hopefully, now that things are starting to calm down, we can start making those inroads and finding ways to make ourselves part of the community.
I've been fortunate enough to work on a number of projects that increase public engagement really well. I think a lot of the time, it can almost be presented as a kind of obstacle exercise in projects. So it's nice to see and work with people who are championing that type of work, and see the positive effect it has on kids.
What makes Govan special?
I think it's an amazing place. It's just so real, like, it's still real – there's very little gentrification happening. And it's just a really nice place to be. Everyone's really sound, there's very little trouble. There's so much stuff to see, just like mad juxtapositions of buildings and organisations.
The area that we're in, it's not really known for its sort of creative endeavours. But it always felt like we moved into that space; it was a big, sort of cavernous empty warehouse, and it always felt we were kind of on the ground floor on something bigger in the area. I think it's definitely starting to take shape.
Govan Project Space, 249 Govan Rd
Jacqueline Donachie is represented by Patricia Fleming, Glasgow