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Nothing about us without us is for us Saturday 28 April 2012, 1 – 4 pm You are invited to participate in the enactment of a public art event where language will be hurled, launched, wafted, and flown from either side of the River Clyde using a variety of obsolete technology. Communication methods include marine signal flags, lost languages, trebuchets, string-and-cup telephones, human megaphones, St. Kilda ‘mailboats’ (The Govan Armada), and more… Weeks of activity in the studios and workshops of Govan here culminate in a one-day celebration where the reality of failed communication is both celebrated and critiqued. This is a project grounded in locally rooted collective action, which acknowledges from the outset the potential futility of our desire for consensus. Envisioned as both action and mini-festival, it employs The Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art as a lens to critically examine the role of art in the transformation of places, in Glasgow and beyond.

Nothing about us without us is for us has commissioned 13 artists to deliver 9 communication strands in partnership with 22 organizations, groups, and many individuals on both sides of the Clyde, in the glorious Parish of Govan. Transmissions will be attempted from both sides of the river. Success is not guaranteed.

Image: Window of Plantation Productions, Govan 2011. Photo Matt Baker


Nothing About Us Without Us Is For Us is led by Matt Baker and t s Beall and presented as part of The Glasgow International festival of Visual Art 2012 Artists and Makers Alexandra Bowie Colin Thomas Begg Fiona Fleming Geraldine Greene Grant Leckie Ingrid Shearer Jim Ferguson Kate V. Robertson Martin Campbell Belinda Gilbert-Scott Sophie Manhire Steven Anderson Tam McGarvey Partners Crann Tara Fablevision Glasgow Housing Association Govan & Craigton Integration Network Govan & Linthouse Parish Church Govan Youth Programme Northlight Heritage Pearce Institute Plantation Productions Platforum Riverside Community Halls Scotland in Europe The GalGael Trust The Riverside Museum The Tall Ship Why?sman Festival


The Govan Armada A fleet of small model boats were made from ‘redeveloped rubbish’ (flotsam) collected from the Clyde each with a message –in-a-bottle. The Govan Armada was inspired by the mailboats of St Kilda – a remote Scottish island whose inhabitants knew the sea currents so well that they were able to ‘post’ letters to the mainland in tiny model boats that carried a waterproof container — an act of faith, knowledge and a need to communicate with a larger world.


12 Workshops 130+ people attending 72 boats built The Govan Armada will be blessed by Rev. Moyna McGlyn and launched on the River Clyde in Govan Parish at 3pm on Saturday 28th April 2012. Any messages found and returned will be logged on an online map at www.aboutuswithoutus.com

Image: Launch of HMS Indomitable, Govan 1907

Flotsam was fished from the Govan Graving Docks, cleaned and prepared as material for a total of 12 group workshops hosted by The GalGael Trust. The workshops were facilitated by all the artists working on NothingAboutUs, staff and volunteers from The GalGael and led by Martin Campbell, Matt Baker, and t s Beall. In all more than 130 people made boats for the Armada, including 5 local youth groups, local community and cultural organizations and representatives of larger organizations like Glasgow Housing Assoc., Glasgow Science Centre and The Riverside Museum.

Huge thanks to all at The GalGael who embraced the Armada Workshops so generously – especially Norrie, Helen, Tam, Rosie, Iain, and Gehan and to The Centre for Human Ecology for all their help in collecting flotsam.

Image: St Kilda Mailboat, National Maritime Museum, London


Main image: Armada Building Workshop (Govan Riverside Youth Group), at GalGael Trust. Photo Matt Baker Flotsam – Graving Dock No3, Govan. Photo Matt Baker


String and Cup Telephones led by Kate V. Robertson


results, not causes.// The causes lie deep and simple//— joy and some security,/ / multiplied a million times ,// multiplied a million times;//

mind aching to grow,// to work, to create, //

to take the clear lines// and form from conceiving.//

// walks up the stairs of his concepts,//

//—when theories change and crash//, //—when theories change and crash//, never the full step back.// never the full step back.// And fear the time when the strikes stop// And fear the time when the strikes stop// for a concept,// for this one quality for a concept,// for this one quality ,// distinctive in the universe. ,// distinctive in the universe.


About Us Voices Voices; protesting and comforting, describing and sensuous, amplified and intimate, professional and personal, instructive and entertaining, historic and present, transcending and rooting. Your voices with these voices. About us The text announced by human megaphone is an extract from The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. About us voices led by Steven Anderson featuring and with thanks to the members of; Voicebeat Choir, Govan All Sorts Choir, Arches Community Choir, Power Cut Choir, Govan’s African Church, and to;      Maria Leahy, Fee McKenzie, Stuart Robertson


Maritime Signal Flags

BREAK THE CODE From 23rd – 28th April messages have been passed between The Tallship (moored on the North side of the Clyde) and 3 highly visible places in Govan around Water Row: Govan New Parish Church No 7 Water Row The Showpeople’s site Flags will be hung on each of the above buildings, and the Tall Ship. Each grouping of flags represents a message, which can be decoded using the key on the right. The 3 locations in Govan display flags specially designed and made by 3 local artists, each in collaboration with a Govan based community group. Together they created messages to send across the Clyde. The Tallship has responded to these messages using a set of one of the many different types of marine signal flags in use by mariners today. The flag codes have been designed and made by: Alexandra Bowie + Govan and Craigton Integration Network Fiona Fleming + Platforum Geraldine Greene + Bead and Blether (Govan Portal, Portal Senior Film and Media Group / Plantation)


From The Diary of Linda Fitzgerald Friday, September 17th 1971 Govan Women ­­— one of three short stories based on the history of Govan by jim ferguson Just home from a meeting of women in the upstairs lounge of Brechin’s Bar. Mostly we talked aboot the work-in which has been going on for over two month now. I am all for it. It shows you what you can do. We didny have our meeting in the downstairs bar cause folk don’t think it’s right for women to go into a bar if they are not accompanied by men. But that’s bye-the-way, the main topic we debated was our objection to one of the slogans they had adopted at the shop-stewards meeting in June:- ‘Not a Man Down the Road’. As women who work in the shipyards and most of us taking our turn in the occupation some of us thought this slogan was out of order. Everybody laughed when wee Rena McIntyre shouted, ‘I’ll bet ye it was that eejit Reid came up wae that wan.’ Fact is it disny matter who came up wae it. It’s the principle; it suggests that we’re no part of the struggle, no part of the fight for jobs. Our jobs are on the line too, no just the men. Ok so we don’t lift and weld and rivet big lumps of metal, we don’t actually build the ships, but we clean, we give out the wages, we make sure aw the necessary stock is in place so that the men can go ahead and build the bloody boats. Tony Benn was discussed favourably, though some reckoned he was trying to use the dispute to further his parliamentary ambitions. I don’t care aboot his ambitions. Not that I wish the man any harm, far from it, at least he showed up and offered us support. And for aw oor men might be bad they’re no as bad as the Tories, though they should know better than to try to write us oot the picture. I mean, ye expect a bit of respect. Ye expect equal pay, equal rights, equality in all and every measure. And I expect oor working class men to fight for the ambitions of every woman who wants to live in freedom and equality. I’ll accept nothing less than freedom and equality with men or women, black or white, and that’s afore ye even think aboot class… If ye thought of aw the cruelty that ever happened in the world it would drive ye aff yir heid. I’m reminded of Lady MacBeth and her ambitions for her man, and how that ended up driving her mad as a brush. Shakespeare was a clever


bugger right enough, saw aw the angles, would’ve made a fine shop-steward and no mistake. Anyway, when the meeting was closing somebody proposed that we go doon into the ‘mens’ bar and order pints. Ye should’ve seen the looks on the some of their coupons when we aw walked in bold as ye like. It was great. Wan eejit, who was completely steamin, shouts oot, ‘Yeezir in the wrang place ladies.’ One of us shouts back, ‘We’re no effin ladies, we’re the women of the UCS.’ The whole place went quiet, totally silent, then aw the men in the bar started clappin their hauns and cheerin. It was a fantastic moment until some wee bugger shouted, ‘Yir aw Communists, away back tae Russia,’ and got his coupon punched. Anyhow, I felt, just afore that wee eejit got punched, I felt a great sense of hope. I think we’re gonny win.

‘Laddie, from here you can get to anyplace in Noise*of Communication the The world’ Transformational Regeneration One* of the foundations is that there be no such Area The flagof NothingAboutUs was borne on canthe field of thing as a single unified voice of a place. Whilst working in Govan we have gathered many fragments of language spoken from or aboutthem Govan — thewas Sheriffmuir * foremost among vast majority of these date from the last 150 years and include the protest language of Red Clydeside , promotionallook ‘vision statements’, engineeringon * Mary Barbour * Don’t on – move patents, ships logs and popular archives. horizontal condemning engines This, togetherdirect-acting with new creative writing generated through the project, forms the Wordbank of NothingAboutUs — material that was shouted, for narrated, screw steamers whispered, scrawled, fired * and wherever over the River Clyde. I stand is the birthplace of my nation * Our Fight is Your Fight * ‘Laddie, from here you can get to anyplace in the world’ * Transformational Regeneration Area * The flag was borne


Govan Charm Offensive A subversion of the ‘Glasgow Kiss’, the Govan Charm Offensive employs weaponry to bombard opposite sides of the River Clyde with words and tokens of affection. Two trebuchets (also called catapults) were built for NothingAboutUs at The GalGael Trust in Govan with the help and expertise of Glasgow Museums. The machines (one large and one smaller) were designed by Grant Leckie (Glasgow Museums) and developed through construction in collaboration with Rico Buonaccorsi from The GalGael. The larger Trebuchet is one of only three full-scale working siege catapults in Scotland. The ammunition for the Charm Offensive was made by artists Colin Begg and Belinda Gilbert-Scott, working in collaboration with other folk at the Kinning Park Complex. Others working on the Trebuchet project at The GalGael: Mark MacDonald, Tam McGarvey, and Gary Weir.

Image: Armada Building Workshop (Govan Riverside Youth Group), at The GalGael Trust. Photo Matt Baker

Thanks (construction): Lawrence Fitzgerald, Rachel Lees, Gehan MacLeod, Helen Hollywood Thanks (ammunition): Lorna Hutcheon, Kathy Friend and Carol Henry, Kinning Park Complex and Emily Roff


River Patter was loosely conceived as a translation project, designed to celebrate the many voices of the Clyde, both past and present. ‘Clutha’ (literally, she who washes) is the ancient name for the River Clyde. The river can both divide and unite over time and space, as language does. Tapping into Govan’s rich linguistic and cultural heritage, we began a journey which took us from Cumbric — the ancient British tongue of the Kingdom of Strathclyde — through to languages brought by be recent immigrants such as Swahili, Ngolo and Parsi. These conversations across the Clyde allow communities to reflect positively on both their pasts, and futures.

Thanks are due to: Matt and Tara. All my colleagues at Northlight Heritage, particularly Gavin MacGregor and Aoife Gould. Alex Bowie and the good folks at Govan and Craigton Integration Network. Staff and students at the University of Glasgow Celtic and Gaelic Department, especially Kate Forsyth, Fiona Dunn and Gilbert MacMillan. Also: Scotland Street School, The Tall Ship, Steven Anderson, Jill Sievewright, Derek Alexander, Katinka Stentoft, Astrid Dale, Moyna McGlynn, Sam MacArthur, Margherita Muller, Ross Clark and many, many others who have generously given their time, linguistic skills, advice and support. Led by Ingrid Shearer, Northlight Heritage


Rag and Bone Raft Building Workshops The raft workshops were designed to function as a platform for creativity and communication. We held ‘open studio’ sessions at Unit 7, Clydebrae Street artist studios where local folk (including artists and organizations) were invited in to get involved in the making process through a series of hands-on workshops. Rubbish, flotsam and objects scavenged from the River Clyde and Govan Graving Docks were cleaned up and used as the material for building the raft. The quality of ‘finished’ product was not the main concern, more the quality of the unique experience you create and share through working on a project such as this. Milk and two please. Led by Martin Campbell


Additional Events Tues 1 May, 6 – 9pm Pearce Institute, 840 – 860 Govan Road Some Questions about Govan…in honour of George Wyllie An evening of films and conversation about people, power and protest on the River Clyde, in honour of Glasgow artist George Wyllie’s 90th birthday. Mon 23 April, 2–4pm Stalled Places — A walk through glorious Govan t s Beall presented a public walk through one of Glasgow’s truly iconic neighbourhoods, visiting three historic locations to investigate the effects of public and private development in Govan, and their impact on placemaking. The journey included portions of The Pearce Institute, Govan Old Church (site of 9th century Norse hogback stones), and the 19th century Govan Graving Docks (now privately owned and derelict). The walk privileged local knowledge but included more traditional historical information.

Image: Govan Graving Docks. Photo Tom Manley


Background and Ephemera Govan has had two eras of greatness — and that is two more than most places’ Professor Stephen Driscoll, Head of Archeology, University of Glasgow The two eras that Steve Driscoll refers to are: • The Early Mediaeval period — when Govan was home to the royal court of the ancient Kingdom of Strathclyde. The royal court comprised a palace, a church (sited at Govan Old) and the giant earthwork ‘parliament’ Doomster Hill (finally leveled in 1850) • The era of the Shipyards — between the mid 19th and mid 20th century, Govan was one of the major shipbuilding centres of the world. In the early 20th century more than 30% of the world’s shipping was ‘Clydebuilt’. The River Clyde was an ancient fording point, then a connector and conduit for industry, but now is more often than not a barrier. Govanites joke of passport controls on the bridge… The boundaries of The Parish of Govan extend across the river to the ‘north’ side, well into Partick and the ‘west end’. Further, both sides claim the name ‘Riverside’. The opening of the Riverside Museum (and previously The Glasgow Science Centre, BBC, and Digital Hub) present a challenge and an opportunity for Govan Parish to bridge the Clyde anew.

Nothing About Us Without Us Is For Us is presented with two key partners – The Riverside Community Halls and The Riverside Museum. Riverside Community Halls is a small but pivotal community centre on the south side of the river in operation since the1980s. The Riverside Museum, opened in 2011, is a new and iconic museum of transport sited on the north side of the Clyde, in view of ancient Govan Old Church, the Govan Graving Docks, and the working BAE Systems shipyard. Nothing About Us Without Us Is For Us is part of a larger effort to both celebrate and examine the rich layers of ancient and contemporary culture in Govan Parish, and to serve as a catalyst for conversation, Govan-style: An genuine attempt to connect up folk, hurling language (and charm) across the Clyde.


Matt and tsB would like to thank all the artists, partners, funders, glorious Govan, The Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art, The Glasgow Science Centre, Glasgow Press, Seaforce, Clare Abel, Andy Aire, Laura Breaden, Katrina Brown, Jean Cameron, Fiona Carmichael, Netta Carruthers, Marj Clark, Moya Crowley, Lawrence Fitzgerald, Lisa Gaston, Liz Gardiner, Gordon Hunter, Helen Kyle, Rachel Lees, Tom Manley, Jen Martin, Liz McCaffrey, Lesley McGregor, Alison McLaughlin, Jan Patience, David Patterson, Jon Pope, Heather Robertson, Stuart Robertson, Rev. Moyna McGlynn, Verene Nicolas, the Now Now Girls, Leanne Scott and Ed Whitley ‌.. without whom this day would not have come.

Designed by BAKKAL Printed by J. Thomson Colour Printers, Glasgow

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Nothing about us without us is for us  

Booklet published to accompany the public art project 'Nothing about us without us is for us,' based in Govan/Glasgow and led by Matt Baker...

Nothing about us without us is for us  

Booklet published to accompany the public art project 'Nothing about us without us is for us,' based in Govan/Glasgow and led by Matt Baker...

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