****************************************************************** (13/12/13) WITNESS STATEMENTS REGARDING; Evidence of Artistic Activity in Dundee. ****************************************************************** -Transcript begins How old do you think the artist is? Interviewees replied; 39, 37, 24, 25, 27, 28, 30, 32, 59, 45, 46, 55 and 11/12ths, 52, 53, 54 Tell me again, what did this artist say he did for a living? Textile Designer, Printmaker, Video, Performance, Graphic Designer, Designer/maker/mixed media artist, Designer, Painter, Visual artist, Art Support Worker, Sculptor / Socially Engaged, Visual Artist, Jeweller designer maker, Painter/Illustrator, Painter/educationalist/ creative facilitator, Jewellery Designer, Jeweller Designer, Photographer maker For how many years did he say heâ€™d been working? He replied; 22, 2, 7, 30, 4 8, 14, 10, 14 on and off, 27 years, 16 (not including studies), 6 months, Depends on the context. Photographer since 2013, artist in general since 2007. For ever... Did the artist admit to you that he had more than one job? yes no
Did he say he was from Dundee? yes 7 no 9 Other 10
27% 35% 38%
Where did he tell you he was living and did he say anything about how long? 1yr in Dundee in 1991, 5 years East Campbell St ,Glasgow and 3 years back in Dundee. 4 years; 1 at Dundee, 3 at Newburgh, Fife. 7 years. 5. 8. 1.5 years. 1 year. 16 years. 21 years. 14 years, on and off. 6 months. 5 years in total â€“ 4 before refurbish, 1 after. Did he say anything about having a studio in WASPS? yes no
When you asked him about what he was doing here and what he liked, what
excuses did he give you for hanging around? He is said to have replied; PSYBT for funding Cultural enterprise office for free seminars and mentoring WASPS for cheap rent Without a doubt my partner and my family. Without their confidence in me I would have never taken the leap to return to education and follow a profession in the creative industries. Not only that but the relationships I developed with peers, tutors and working professionals truly helped to maintain my focus and drive for something that I knew (and found out) would be difficult but achievable. My parents and family members. WASPS Studios, Friends, Other artists. Certain Lecturers. Studio space (WASPS) to produce work and feedback/communication with fellow artists etc. Space to set up and run community art classes. Helpful guidance from Cultural Enterprise Office (CEO) on professional direction after graduation. Voluntary work with various bodies leading to Lead Artist paid work delivering art classes workshops within the community and health service. Support and encouragement from partner and colleagues who are also artist and tutors. Sales from gallery exhibitions and commissions. Friends, Cultural enterprise office, residency at DJCAD through V&A, A mixture of the above, you need more than one outlet to help support you and strengthen you, they all do it in different ways. Family gives good critical feedback, friends help give you motivation, organisations help provide you a place to properly define yourself and get more experience. A mixture of family and peer relationships with other artists within the SSA for the last few years and fellow artists within WASPS. Financial support from Artist residency at Angus Council, variety of commissions, projects, workshop deliveries and creative consultation programmes as well as CS/ ArtWorks Peer to Peer funded network TRiGGER. Family, friends, other WASPERS, DOJ, Cornerstone care, Creative Dundee, TRiGGER Other painters and friends such as the late James Howie, Restaurant owner Zeki Agacan, Joe MacIntyre, John Johnstone, My partner. Various galleries around the country especially Gallery Heinzel in Aberdeen. NHS Scotland. Mainly my parents and brothers. family The Internet probably. Working in artistic community. DCA print studio. Being part of artists networks – Morphē Arts, Generator Projects, Tin Roof. Setting deadlines and objectives to enter exhibitions and competitions is a way of making sure work gets produced. Adult son, friends, networks My family, especially my Dad. He has helped me in many ways, finically and emotionally, he's interested in what I do and wants me to succeed. husband – Jim family – Rachel Louise and Stevie former tutors – James and Sheila
When you threatened him, did he answer you, did any threats seem effective? He was reported to have said: Diversification of working practice; I've had to explore various forms of design to stay current and employable. It was the varied skill set that gave me the opportunity to work for DC Thomson. The lack of attention that's sometimes felt in Dundee. Mostly in a financial way, the lack of money and visible support is really distressing. Also more generally that there isn't really enough venues, either well known or otherwise, in Dundee that can be experienced. That's not a good thing. Not having a large range of services available in dundee has been inconvenient sometimes and worried me at the start. Out sourcing things like Hallmarking, engraving, casting would be much easier in a bigger city, and having jewellery tool and material shops nearby would make some things a lot easier and save money on postage costs. I have to do everything online, over the phone, via emil etc. council tax! my health and finances (or lack of them) The fact that i still need to work a 'regular' job in order to keep myself afloat. Lack of funds, doing more arts participatory work which pays, Making a living. My lack of work and the general change in the photographic industry. Cuts to education budget, lack of grant opportunities, Debt. Lack of commissions Continuing financial uncertainty and extremely limited exhibiting opportunities for fine artists leaving little respected, critically acclaimed outlets for experimental visual art etc. No substantial 'market' for visual arts in Dundee, emphasis on craft. In relation to Dundee, lack of money/funding in my own general practice. In Perth which I'm sure pertains to Dundee also. Threat of funding to groups and classes that I tutor/facilitate within the community. Mindless red tape. The 'recession'. Ignorant fools. Government policy. War. Plagues. People that say 'What does that represent?' The cost of paint. The bad economy and people loosing their jobs so can't afford unique art work. More competition graduating each year. Working on my own makes me isolated, need to be involved with other creatives Growth of cultural life in Dundee is attracting both good & bad incursion â€“ danger of floating off from local knowledge What things do you think would keep him here? (As usual his answers were never the same, but he let slip some things, which might be useful...) Apparently he said; I've grown in confidence and experience as an artist/designer
I've given up my part time job and been running my own practice for 2 years. Increased peer support within existing creative communities, V & A which must benefit us all in the long term, but still limited for the fine arts. refurbished and new wasps studios, city of culture bid, pecha kucha nights, the wonderful Creative Dundee, Vanilla Ink and the general upsurgence in creative people getting together in Dundee Strong support locally from Creative Dundee, high profile promotion, collaborations with other WASPERS, strong creative community, with far reaching connections, and engagement with wider community in Dundee. The City of Culture bid has helped assure me that the creative community is thriving in Dundee, and made me realise how good it is. Sometimes I've worried about staying in Dundee and not moving to a bigger city, but watching the Culture bid video and seeing so many faces I know, makes me appreciate the small city and how close the creative community is. Significant changes would be the exposure that Dundee as a creative community is getting in the mainstream media and is set to further establish itself as a leading city in the creative sector. With this positive change it will enhance the credibility of the city creatively and it's creatives. The City of Culture bid's helped give some press attention, and letting Dundee College (now known as D&A College) helped myself and others tremendously in getting a degree, so help and support like that has been important. I think the V&A coming to Dundee will be good too, but this won't be seen for a while. I have more time to spend working on my works and have recently acquired framing equipment that will at least save on framing my own works and may be a side line income not sure if I'd like to frame full time but as a second income, it would be fine. I am beginning a body of work that develops altered photographs back into paintings? a digital reality represented! After working from WASPS studio in Newburgh Fife 2009-2012 then moving to WASPS Dundee Dec 2012 I have felt more optimistic about my practice as an artist. I enjoyed my time at Newburgh and learned how to set up leisure art classes there but it was quite quiet in the studio building and surrounding area. I feel that with the move to Dundee, with DCA and Art College only five mins from Meadowmill (a much bigger building with more artist communication collaboration etc), that I am in a much more dynamic artistic environment. Finding new ways to market artwork, online, street markets, stores in rural areas etc. The optimism in certain quarters regarding the V and A and the cultural bid. There are a variety of new artists communities that give a sense of belonging. More artists are staying in the city. The introduction of the V&A will provide more jobs and develop stronger sense of creative culture in Dundee. Creative Dundee, V&A coming to dundee, Refurbishment of WASPS and new people moving into the studios to create more of a community feel, Other organisations â€“ Council, newspaper etc being more interested in the creative sector due to going for the City of Culture 2017 bid. Creative activity in Dundee is reaching a critical mass and achieving its
own momentum. completing my training as textile designer and securing a studio where I can print and make The V&A.
Is there anything about this place that seemed to make him less optimistic. (He gave different answers at different times) Apparently, he said; No. Given the economy is in the gutter and will continue to be for a long time. Companies are putting less faith in freelance designers. I have already been put in the situation where a bigger studio has been able to out-bid me due to them being able to pitch their rates a little lower but with more bodies behind them. Unless I better establish myself as a designer then I think I will continue to lose work to bigger studios and more established teams. Not necessarily more than any other city given the current squeezed climate. NA Nothing really. Possibly lack of funding for projects within the community etc but I think that pertains to any council/city in Scotland. Just trying to keep my own head above water financially to afford studio space. No The V&A turning into another expensive gastro-pub like the DCA....Ask anyone not connected to the Arts here 'What is the DCA?' and they will answer 'An expensive pub.' No. I rather think survival as an artist in Dundee has become more likely. Cant think of any, none that I can think of, Massive change in my personal practice, but unconnected to location. Just your average depression, both; physical / mental and economical. Doesn't seem to be getting better. Just need to hope that people keep buying my work and I continue to make new pieces. Sometimes in Dundee I feel that there's too much of a clique going on. I don't like it when I say that, but I'll be honest, as someone who never went to the official art college, I can feel particularly ostracised simply because I didn't go the same place, or do thing same thing or know the same people as others, and sometimes certain places or organisations can make more of an effort to make you feel valued and appreciated, instead of being felt as exceedingly eccentric and bizarre and isolated. To feel better used within your own place, space and practice can only be a good thing. People seem to be less willing to pay decent money for artwork. When you looked at him did you think, â€œhe's just surviving in Dundeeâ€?? Show me on this scale â€Ś (1 was strongly agree and 10 was strongly disagree). Here's what they pointed at;
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
2 0 4 1 5 1 2 2 0 0
12% Strongly agree 0% 24% 6% 29% Neither agree or disagree 6% 12% 12% 0% 0% Strongly disagree
So we pressed them; â€œShow me again, do you think he's finding it easier (1) or tougher (10) over the past four years?â€? 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
0 0 2 4 4 2 0 3 0 1
0% 0% 13% 25% 25% 13% 0% 19% 0% 6%
What did he ask you for? anything away?
What did he say he needed?
Did he give
Here were his typical shifty replies: More sales!? Funding for group shows, CPD opportunities, regular TRiGGER sessions, continue to build with Creative Dundee. A good place to exhibit without the snobbery and clique that has sprung up around the DCA, something like the old Seagate Gallery who opened their doors to everyone. Very few locally based Artists have had the opportunity to show in the DCA. Why? Perhaps a clearer route into making money from your work, there is a great deal of high quality education in how to think and how to produce effectively, but I feel that the side which relates to actually making a living is left to fall by the wayside. Making links to others out with the creative community. Events to take part in. Collaborations with other artists and organisations. Upturn in the economy Not sure. Increased opportunities for creative exposure, wider Dundee support / patronage of the arts maybe ...
An acute sense of awareness and community is more encouraged. I personally would like to see more art outlets in Dundee use each other and bond some links in that way. Easier access to funding, a contemporary design gallery My comments are mostly based on emotional/worth survival. The other reality for survival is physical and the need to earn a living. To add to the growing cultural capital for artists in Dundee artists would also need more funding opportunities to survive. Strong community and more collaborative work. The old adage of "Two minds are better than one" can be applied to a lot of things. Creatives can be very insular and it's overcoming that barrier that will be the main catalyst for survival. The different creative groups working together to help promote each other and collaborate. Our networks and activities to maintain independence from institutions Wish I was a business minded artist, and, perhaps that's what's needed. I'd like more stability and more economic growth, but, the government don't seem to know whats needed. In Dundee, we missed out on a major wind turbine manufacturing development; (went to Leith) and the national sports stadium went to Livingstone or near there. So what else have we missed out on. I understand that my art will need to travel, but, the new development at Dundee waterfront is all there is, developing In Dundee??? It may prove to be an improvement but we'll see
When you pressed him, did he seem content to stay here? He is said to have replied; yes no
What seemed to be his favourite part of the city? him?
Where might we find
Interviewees said; Perth Road West end .The Law. The journey along riverside before reaching Tesco's, Balgay, The Law, Any road that leads to the country Perth Rd/Blackness, Balgay Hill city centre / cultural quarter The Tay the river and the views, McManus where I live Tannadice view from the Law The river Central Area View from Law On a good day, it feels fresh and crisp, and totally unique. Was there anywhere you know he actively dislikes? Interviewees said; Many areas of the housing schemes, where life remains a struggle Hilltown The Murraygate and Wellgate, Gellatly Street, City Centre, Wellgate shopping centre, and most of the Seagate. New builds, Wellgate and overrates don't know much of Dundee the bus and train stations the
junkies on the Hilltown, Fintry/Whitfield On a bad day, it feels depressing and bleak. ESPECIALLY when it rains. Hinterland of the Kingsway, City centre Empty shops When you asked him where were the important places for him and his work, How often did he mention these things? Interviewees replied; DCA DJCAD GENERATORprojects Roseangle Studios Tin Roof Collective WASPS Other international places or cities Nomas* Projects Public libraries DJCAD library City Archives / Council resources Cultural Enterprise Office Public lectures on art and design Parks & Green Spaces The local countryside Other Scottish places or cities Other UK places or cities Other European places or cities FleetCollective Other
13 11 5 4 3 13 10 2 5 13 2 7 11 15 13 15 12 11 4 5
7% 6% 3% 2% 2% 7% 6% 1% 3% 7% 1% 4% 6% 9% 7% 9% 7% 6% 2% 3%
Do you think having him here does the city any good? (1 if you strongly agree and 10 if you strongly disagree) Interviewees replied; 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
6 3 2 2 1 0 0 1 0 1
38% 19% 13% 13% 6% 0% 0% 6% 0% 6%
That's surprising, why do think he should stay here. think he bring us?
What benefit do you
Interviewees replied; With regard to artists benefitting the wider community, I think they have the potential to bring benefit, but only when it impacts the general public in a positive way, a way that benefits them. There is a risk by artists (and students) producing controversial work or using shock tactics that all they will achieve is an alienation with the public not
understanding artists, and (some) artists having a propensity to look down on non-artists. Taking part in community workshops or artists Community arts aimed at primary school age to is of vital importance. Recent 'children take an excellent way to engage...could be applied studios.
going into schools involve the next generation over the museum' initiative to galleries, theatre,
A society without culture is a desert. Not to sure if the people of Dundee in the main really care about art. Ask anyone how many original works of art do they own and hang or so in their homes. Near zero. To me that is something I have asks when a taxi driver. Fact. I'd like to think that artists benefit an area even if it is for an alternative view. I use Dundee as a base to work. Disappointed that WASPS don't cater for ceramics any more. McManus has actually felt more important to me now than ever, I think they've managed to blend their past heritage and history together with their more modern outlook on contemporary art very well, and some of their exhibitions are genuinely inspiring and eclectic and varied. Things would be really boring without any creativity around the community. Should we see if we can get him involved in other cities as well as Dundee? Interviewees replied; yes no don't know / maybe
12 0 4
75% 0% 25%
Is there anywhere in particular we should send him? Or did he say anything about this when you asked him, where he'd like to go? He is said to have replied; Germany, US, Japan, The WASPS have set up throughout scotland and thus, is a much needed source for artists and others the possibilities to filter through to other, and each city; Wasps Branches anyway. Canada, Iceland, Norway Amsterdam/Netherlands, Glasgow, Barcelona America, China, Scandinavia. London, USA, Netherlands Australia Never really considered this before. Too big a question (ambitious?) for me at current stage of development as artist, maybe? Europe Americas Canada San Francisco, USA. Madrid, Spain. New York City, USA. New York New Zealand Japan Amsterdam Groningen Berlin Tokyo New York Barcelona Paris America Japan Germany Dundee has many twin cities such as Orleans, Wichita, Wurzburg. We could make a start with them.... Europe USA London When you suggested to him, that maybe he could stay after all, but he'd need to make himself useful, what sort of answers did he give you? (He was apparently shifty at this point, and gave a various answers) He is said to have replied;
I can only answer this again as a fine artist but increased links with wider exhibiting commissioners, buyers, curators etc that have an emphasis on that area of visual arts accompanied by an accessible, respected, visible, exhibiting venue that has a professional approach and a great mailing list! Profile raising of artists through media and raising the awareness of the creative community and how much really goes on in Dundee. Major exhibitions by Dundee based Artists in this city. The DCA should look on its doorstep for talent. Painting, sculpture and ceramics are still very much alive and if the power fails we'll still have those. Time to get back to the earth, peeps x need to give this some more thought! Influence of forthcoming V&A to help awareness and inclusion of wider Dundee artistic community to all. More opportunity for group shows and selling opportunities for all types of artists, It seems there is plenty of opportunity to talk about art and how to produce it but with less geared towards make a decent living from producing & marketing it. Of course, it may just be that Dundee is not the place for that. Not sure, personally, exhibiting opportunities. More local social gatherings with other creatives Weekly or monthly meets A space created for contemporary design exhibitions Begin to be visible in the outer housing schemes, where people benefit very little from artist's existence I'd like to see a better opportunistic use of the time, money and the materials in Dundee of the artists, as I feel that these are the way that can properly lead to Dundee establishing a better national (or even international) reputation. I recently attended a Culture Hack which merged technology and design/creativity. I benefited from attending both professionally and personally. Speaking as a designer who primarily focuses on client work it would be great to have a creative 'hack' event to take vocational creatives away from client briefs and do non commercial work. perhaps self reflective work much like a fine artist. (random I know but it sounded good in my head!) Higher publicity for artists/designers, like more public sculptures (even the little things can add so much character to a city) or murals, pavement paintings, things like that would be nice for everyone! - More connectivity between the different arts communities. - A joint map/catalogue (e.g. The grid used in Edinburgh and Glasgow) that promotes and raises awareness of the exhibitions and events that are happening in the city. Something similar to the Dundee Visual Arts Diary e-mail but in physical form. - a resource that provides better public awareness of the public art works dispersed through out the city. Really push our crafts into the community. Interviews ended at 12.45.
-end of interview transcription-
Published on Feb 1, 2014