Earlier in the year, CCSE staff got together with colleagues from STAR Project to deliver a workshop alongside STAR community members. The workshop was an opportunity to discuss community experiences of culture in and around Paisley and Renfrewshire. The workshop was part of our UKRI project, funded as part of their ‘Enchacing Place Based Parterships’ stream.
The collaborative work undertaken has been both interesting and rewarding. After the workshop, STAR community members co-wrote a lovely blog which we published here. We were also able to comission a short film on the day of the event which we’re delighted to be able to share here.
After our own recent experience of hosting a virtual conference, CCSE Director – Prof Gayle McPherson – spoke this week at the 7th biennial International Symposium on Cross -Sector Social Interactions. As the restrictions on co-presence and travel remain in place for many, the event took place virtually.
Alongside conference chair Dr Annmarie Ryan, Prof McPherson spoke, presenting on the ‘Legacies of failure to win the City of Culture: Identity, civicism and change,’ drawing on her participation in developing and delivering Paisley’s own City of Culture UK bid. Although, ultimately, Paisley was not selected as city of culture, the bidding process and its legacies have positive ongoing effects for Paisley and the development of cultural strategies, collaborations and interactions across a spectrum of civic agencies and actors.
Back in February (admittedly, a time that now feels but a distant memory), the Centre for Culture, Sport and Events, Renfrewshire Council and STAR Project came together to ask the Paisley community what culture meant to them. Despite the appaling weather, our community members attended en masse to tell us exactly what it meant to them.
While opinions and views were collected throughout the event, our community members decided that they wanted to host a workshop and write a blog to capture their thoughts and feelings about Art & Soul of Paisley a couple of weeks later. In true STAR style – they asked, we did.
The group consisted of 8 community members, all eager to share their thoughts on the event. We started talking about our general feelings about what had happened on that rainy afternoon in February. Everyone agreed they had had a great time, listening to the upbeat tunes of the Well Happy Band, eating delicious food from Redss Catering, dodging the numerous photographs/graphics being captured but, most of all, people loved having their voices heard.
Our community are a cultural bunch, prior to the event they already felt like they knew a lot about the subject. Some told us the event was a useful platform for bringing together all of the incredible things happening in Renfrewshire and really reflecting on how these things benefited them.
Photo credit: Willie Kay
Highlights of the event, from our community’s perspective, included the happy atmosphere and the community spirit. They were proud of the number of people who turned up with the soul (see what I did there?) purpose of coming together to talk about things that mattered to the community. One community member told us “it felt like we were the experts telling people what we know and what is needed. They genuinely listened; they were interested – I loved every minute of teaching people how important it is to create your own culture within your community. More please!”
Community members agreed that the participatory and accessible nature of the event kept them engaged throughout. “It wasn’t sitting around, death by PowerPoint and being talked at by a guy in a grey suit. It was – get on yer feet, use yer voice, get the colour markers out.” Others felt having children there was a highlight. They acknowledged that, while the kids were loud, on a ‘sugar high’ and interrupted a few of the activities, having them there made the event seem more ‘community led.’
As a result of the event our community members felt heard, empowered and included. Many stated that being involved at such an early stage of the project made them want to know more, want to follow the progress of the work as it progressed; to help support it in any way they can. “I knew, the moment I got there, it wasn’t a tick box thing. Not a ‘yeah, yeah, tell us what you think, and we’ll do our own thing anyway.’ No, it felt like ‘we’re not doing anything until you’ve told us what to do.’ It wasn’t an event done for us; it was with us.”
Our community felt there were few to no barriers to them engaging with the event- although everyone agreed that the weather could have been better – we assured them we would look into it!
Finally, community members decided to each come up with one word to sum up Art & Soul of Paisley: Togetherness; Community; Creative; Participation; Inspired; Happy; Spirit; Surprising; Empowered. That the community members chose these words to describe the event, demonstrates that the potential to positively and meaningfully engage the community in the cultural regeneration process is already well underway.
Professor Katarzyna Kosmala and Professor Graham Jeffery are organising a seminar at UWS Ayr Campus; Dr Waldemar Affelt (Visiting Senior Research Fellow at the School of Business and Creative Industries) is presenting a lecture entitled “Future of Intangible Heritage in Historic Environment of the Gdansk Shipyard”.
In this presentation, Dr Affelt will discuss his recently developed TECHNITAS methodology for the assessment of industrial heritage, framed as a ‘heritology’ process concerning the protection and the treatment of heritage in a holistic manner (Šola, 1982). The paper offers a ‘blueprint’ for how to apply this techno-aesthetics method in the context of the former Gdansk Shipyard on-going redevelopments, drawing on a neuroscientific research on aesthetics, Tim Enderson’s (2005) conceptualization of industrial aesthetics and Maria Golaszewska’s (1996) notion of aesthetic situation.
Recently, the National Heritage Board of Poland entered negotiations with the developers of the land, concerning the possible ways to sustain the uniqueness of the historic site of the former Gdansk Shipyard’s tangible and intangible heritage. Although, in 2015 the significant area of the site (Imperial Shipyard) became protected by the Polish law as a historic monument, and there is a proposal underway to enlist the former Gdansk Shipyard onto the UNESCO World Heritage List, over a half of its infrastructure and several buildings had already disappeared.
Dr Waldemar Affelt is a newly appointed Visiting Senior Research Fellow at the School of Business and Creative Industries at the University of the West of Scotland, a conservation expert and a member-specialist of the Committee for the History of Science and Technology of the Polish Academy of Sciences. Since 2017, Professor Emeritus at the Faculty of Fine Arts, Nicolaus Copernicus University Torun and the Gdansk University of Technology, Poland. Since 2018, a Visiting Professor at the Tohoku Gakuin University, Sendai, Japan.
The seminar will take place on Wednesday 18th March 1.30-2.30pm, GT41 in UWS Ayr campus, University Avenue, Ayr, KA8 0SX.
On a blustery Friday afternoon, hardy and rain-spotted folk from in and around Paisley gathered at the Beechwood Community Centre in Shortroods to take part in the first of the workshops planned as part of our UKRI funded place-based partnership project:Improving Community Wellbeing and Prosperity through Culture, #ArtandSoul.
This partnership-focussed work looks at how the benefits of arts and culture projects, interventions, activities and interests benefit local communities. The work undertaken will, we hope, provide evidence of cultural value as well as giving insights into the ways in which local communities and individuals participate in arts and culture. In turn, our findings will feed into policy and practice discussions taking place within community organisations and, at local authority level; helping those who deliver support and services to better understand the wants, needs, skills, abilities and interests of their communities.
Photo credit: Willie Kay
In liaison with local community leaders, our project partners at STAR Project and within Renfrewshire Council’s Cultural Regeneration team led the workshop which was attended by about 50 local community members alongside representatives from a range of local and national organisations; including NHS Scotland, Renfrewshire Leisure and the Disability Resource Centre.
The activities undertaken – and the discussions that arose from them – provided a huge data set which we must now collate, analyse and feed into the next phases of this project and, into the wider discussions currently ongoing at council level – and particularly within the Future Paisley Partnership – on the strategic direction of some of their cultural regeneration work.
We had a great, fun-filled afternoon that also gave us much to think about; there was a lot to say about the art and culture in Paisley as well as about ‘what’s not there’ and ‘what’s been lost’ over the years. That people attended in numbers in spite of really atrocious weather conditions helped to ensure that we were able to gather some very rich and valuable data to take forward in this project and, to feed into relevant discussions and debates on cultural regeneration in Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland and elsewhere.
In 1808, a group of local community figures came together to establish the Paisley Philosophical Institution. This collective vision recognized that there was a growing desire in Paisley, and the wider area, to support and provide cultural and educational development to the town’s inhabitants. The group were particularly conscious of a rich historical legacy, alongside burgeoning and emerging talent, within the community. In response to this, they drew up a set of guiding principles, including a determination to “realise the potential contribution that creativity can make to education, social inclusion and quality of life”.
Playing a significant role in the cultural and creative development of Paisley, and beyond, the membership of Paisley Philosophical Institution supported proactive discussion and the establishment of key cultural resources within the community. The Public Library, Museum and Observatory, now Local Authority responsibilities, are still in use to this day.
Paisley School of Art
An important, yet often forgotten part of this story is the foundation of Paisley School of Arts, established by the Paisley Philosophical Institution in 1838. As an interesting aside, this predates the formation of Glasgow School of Art by a number of years. The development of Paisley School of Arts evolved over the years. From its origins as Paisley School of Arts; a Government School of Art and Design at 14 Gilmore Street, it then grew in size to form the School of Arts and Science. This led to amalgamation with local technical education provision to form the Paisley Technical College and School of Art on Gordon Street and has now developed as part of the multi-campus educational presence of the University of the West of Scotland.
Celebrating a legacy and lineage of creative education
Last year saw the redevelopment and launch of the BA(Hons) New Media Art programme at UWS. At the heart of this programme, students discover and develop their own artistic practices through exploration of diverse platforms from illustration, moving image, animation, multimedia live performance/installation, projection mapping, sound art, creative coding and immersive media (360 Filming/AR/VR). Through learning and exploring historical, contemporary, cultural and social contexts of New Media Art, students become ‘Technical’, ‘Critical’ and ‘Creative’ practitioners. With the ongoing emergence of new and innovative arts training at the University, Paisley can claim to have a long and significant presence in the provision of creative education in Scotland. Here, the University of the West of Scotland forms part of this fascinating timeline.
Paisley School of Arts | Est. 1838 : A Living Archive Project
Mr Trent Kim (Proramme Leader) and Dr Rachael Flynn (Lecturer), staff from the BA(Hons) New Media Art programme, along with Ms Anne Gifford (Head of Arts & Media), were recently awarded funding from Renfrewshire Council, through the Culture, Heritage and Events Fund, in order to explore this creative history.
Recognizing the significance of Paisley School of Art, as an important and pioneering presence within the community, the project will focus on this educational and cultural institution, where there is evidence of a longstanding and a continuing flow and flourish of local creativity, with global impact. Whilst national focus and spotlight have been placed elsewhere, this project seeks to reassert the significance of this long-established creative community, which continues to innovate. As we move towards a new chapter in the creative and cultural history of Paisley, with the current £100 million investment of Paisley Town centre, this project will contribute to the reimagined vision of Paisley.
Their project will involve archival research, a series of public workshops, and a culminating Summer School for local school aged children located at the historic site of the Art School on Gordon Street. This work will build to form a Living Archive, across various historic and contemporary sites of interest, recognizing, reasserting, and reimagining the vision and determination of these local figures and a community who believed in the potential for their cultural wealth to create CULTURAL, ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL change.
You can follow the progress of this project via their Social Media channels which are launching this month! https://www.instagram.com/psoa1838/