A wee update from Scottish Sculpture Workshop: May 2020

Image: Ross Fraser McLean / Studio RoRo

It’s been two months since we closed our site in Lumsden due to COVID-19. Like so many people, we have had to adapt how we live, work and communicate with each other during this time. With ongoing emerging information and shifting guidelines, we’ve worked on and then reworked our plans many times. As a team, we have set up a mutual aid group with our community in Lumsden, revealed the plans for transforming our workshops and had a remote ‘cake Monday’ delivered to our homes by Eden (yes, tears resulted).

When we last sent a message to our communities about the impact of COVID-19, we were optimistic that we would be able to continue working in our workshops from June. We did not know the extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic would unfold in the UK, and more widely, beyond news from our friends in other countries. As the months have progressed, it has become clear that this pandemic has, and will continue to, deeply affect all of us, but not equally. We know that we will not be going ‘back to normal’. This project that we have co-commissioned, by Harry Josephine Giles and Sacha Saben Callaghan and produced by Collective, gives just some of the reasons why.

Now, with the lockdown in Scotland set to continue and no indication as to when international travel will be viable again, we cannot and should not be welcoming artists, visitors or regular users to our site for some months. Although this is sad and disappointing we have made this decision while thinking both of those we know and those we don’t know – continuing to prioritise each other’s health and wellbeing. With this in mind, we have made changes to our programme, which are detailed below, and the site will remain closed until we believe it is safe to open up again.

So much of our work involves bringing people together on our site, collectively learning in our workshops and studio. We have started to plan how we will open and work in these spaces after lockdown has lifted, together with our partners, Board and friends in Scotland’s Workshops. For now however, while we remain closed due to COVID-19, the SSW team will be taking furlough at various times until the end of June. Sam, our Director, will continue working at slightly reduced hours and is contactable via email or the SSW phone number: (+44) 01464 861372.

Despite all this, we will still have news lined up to share with you on our social media platforms soon. Please keep an eye out and we hope we will also be able to share these with you in person before too long.

COVID-19 Programme update

We have decided to postpone our 2020 Summer Residency until 2021 and this year’s participants have been offered a space in next year’s programme. This means that there will likely be no open call for Summer Residency in 2021, or if there is it will be for just a few spaces.

We cannot confirm if Winter Residency will be taking place this winter, at this stage.

With these changes to residency and the ongoing school closures in Scotland, we have decided with our colleagues at Lumsden Primary School that we will not be running the Lumsden Residency this year.

We will be reviewing the prospect of Open Access bookings from July onwards in communication with artists.

All courses affected by our COVID-19 closure so far have been rescheduled or cancelled. Participants on affected courses have been contacted directly and are reminded to let us know this week (by Monday 18 May at the latest) if you would prefer to reschedule or receive a full refund.

With our site closure our ceramics workshop remains closed also. We cannot offer clay or tools for sale in the coming months due to staff being on furlough. We will continue planning how we can work in the ceramics workshop when we get back to work, and will open for bookings again when we can.

Student Groups
We are in touch with our contacts at visiting universities and will work with each on a case by case basis. We are still open to discussing future visits with new and existing partners.

We have made the very difficult decision to cancel our Ceramics Internship, for the reasons outlined above. We hope that there may be possibility to continue with the application process in the future and applicants are reminded to confirm if they would like their application kept on file by Monday 18 May. We want to thank everyone affected for their understanding.

Our Programme and Communications Internship will continue with revised dates and the possibility of remote learning, depending on how the coming months develop.

Networks and partnerships
We are continuing work on our EU Large Collaboration Project BE PART, developing proposals for fairer governance in the arts through our participation in the RESHAPE network and keeping in close contact with all our other partners. International solidarity is essential, always.

We want to thank all of our wonderful communities for their understanding and support over the past few months.

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