Here at SSW, building connections and learning different ways of working is an important part of what we do and it’s often not visible. So, we’d like to give a snapshot into where the team have been and who they have met between May to November 2023.
In May we had a team away day to Glasgow to research how other organisations run their spaces to be inclusive and welcoming and the processes they put in place to do this. We had cups of tea with the amazing, Slag Hammers – a women, trans and non-binary led welding collective, and then checked out their impressive DIY workshop including a new wood workshop they had nearly completed. We then headed east to the ledgendary Glasgow Women’s Library for a tour of the space and a chat with the team. We brought back lots of ideas and tools from this day, many of which we have used over the past 6 months.
We also headed out to Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen degrees shows to see what exciting new work was coming out of these universities this year.
Our Programme Producer’s trips
Also in May, our producer Jo headed to Brussels to the Producers’ Academy, hosted by Cifas at Kunstenfestivaldesarts, where they met fellow producers from all around the world. They made new networks and learnt about different models of producing, including presentations from LE18, Marrakech and State of the Arts.
In October, Jo visited Helsinki to meet with the partners on our residency programme, Ecologies in the Making: Sculpting Futures, Uni Arts Helsinki and funders Saastamoinen Foundation. Jo was on the selection panel to go through the artists applications for the residency in 2024, along with Frank Brummel from Uni Arts and Danielle Van Zuiljen of Kunstenhalle Ghent. Jo also met local artists in their studios, including Tim Vaittinen and Jenni Juulia went to visit the Saastamoinen collection at EMMA.
In Scotland Jo headed over to Glasgow, attended the reflection day for Creative Scotland’s Radical Care Programme, through which SSW has been supported. At the reflection day Jo was joined by writer Claire Sawers who shared her experience of being on residency with her son at SSW.
Recently, Jo attended a peer networking retreat at Fieldwork which is run by artist Phoebe Davies on her family farm in Wales, Slade Farm Organics. Jo was joined by Rebecca Davies from Portland Inn Project, Marine Thevent from Cifas and photographer Felicity Crawshaw, they also met with folks from the Welsh art scene and visited the oldest pottery in Wales, Ewenny Pottery.
Our Ceramics Technician’s trips
Our Ceramics Technician Amy, has been moving around the UK over the past few months. A key visit was the British Ceramics Biennale 2023 (BCB) in Stoke on Trent, which had over 50 ceramic artists exhibiting across 4 venues. Jo Mills kindly showed Amy around BCB’s community space, in the Spode factory which is open year round, and expanding into a new part of the factory. Some stand out work for Amy was the William Cobbing exhibition, ‘Social Substance’ in Airspace Gallery, a partnership exhibition with the inspirational Portland Inn Project. There was also an exciting range of work in the ‘Fresh 2023’ programme. A stand out work for Amy was Mella Shaw’s ‘Sounding Line’. Amy also popped into Clay College whilst in Stoke to have a chat with Kevin Millwar and see the latest developments in their kiln yard.
Amy has also been busy around Scotland, attending the ‘CHEAD Technical Alliance’ event, hosted by Edinburgh College of Art to foster networks with other technical peers. The theme of the event was: ‘Community and Connection’ where they discussed materials hubs and how to grow more equitable and sustainable access to materials.
We kicked off our Be Part meetings this year in London where Mara, our Community Arts Organiser and Sam, SSW Director, spent 3 days at Artsadmin where they met with partners and artists to review shared learnings as well as plans for the final year of the collaboration programme. In September Sam, Sara SSW’s Finance Manager, and Jo attended Homo Novous festival in Riga, Latvia for the BePart symposium. The symposium was held at the festivals iconic hub space – a striking former casino, where they heard from speakers including Darren ODonnell, Joseph Kasau and Be Part evaluators Sophie Hope and Henry Mulhull.
Artist Mark Vernon (who facilitated our Lumsden Live Assembly in 2021) joined the team to collaborate with Estonian arts collective Elektron.art on their Thought Interrupted radio station that ran throughout the festival. Mark shared podcasts made with and by Lumsden residents as well as field recordings from across Aberdeenshire amongst other pieces.
In November, Sara joined the final BePart meeting in Marseille, where they discussed plans for the network’s future along with further reflecting on the end of BePart 2019-2023.
Our Directors Trips
With a young(ish) baby in tow Sam spent more time this year zooming into national and international gatherings rather than being there on the ground. Together with her family she headed over to Glasgow for Counterflows Festival as well as all seeing shows across Scotland throughout the year. Whilst in Japan in October, she spent time at Kyoto Experiment and Tokyo Biennale and enjoyed an informative and inspiring meeting with Chika Sudo of the British Council.
We would like to thank all the amazing artists, individuals and organisations we have met during our trips as well as our partners and supporters who have hosted and enabled these important travels and co-learning opportunities to take place. We also thank the SSW team’s partners, families and friends who have taken on additional care work whilst we have been away.