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Our bright future

Next week: Exhibition of young people's environmental sculptures in North Glasgow

A group of young people taking part in our Creative Pathways: Environmental Design course in Glasgow are holding their final exhibition next week.

For the past 10 weeks, the group - all aged 16 and 17 - have been working with our artists Kaitlyn DeBiasse and Allan Whyte to investigate environmental issues, develop their creative practice, and grow as artists while working on a creative sculpture project with Scottish Canals.

Researching the history of the Possil Clay Pits, the participants have designed a series of sculptures to create a trail along the new footpaths, and these designs will be made public for the first time at the exhibition.

Also on show will be amazing abstract self-portraits, stunning Glasgow-rooted environmentally friendly collage work, sculpture made using found natural objects and much more to evidence the incredible artistic progress the young people have made over the post few months.

While working creatively, the young people have also been getting help with job-hunting, interview skills, CV-writing, and other skills that will help them find work.

The exhibition is taking place on Thursday 23rd November 2017 between4pmand 6pm at The Whisky Bond, 2 Dawson Rd, Glasgow G4 9SS.

We would be delighted if you could make it along to celebrate their hard work, achievements and see some spectacular environmentally-themed artwork! All welcome, refreshments will be provided.

If you would like to attend, please contact Matthew McWhinnie on 0141 575 3001 or email

This programme is funded by Scottish Canals, the Scottish Children's Lottery, Our Bright Future, the Big Lottery Fund, the Gannochy Trust and Skills Development Scotland.

Creative Pathways Glasgow delve into the past to create a bright future

Young people on Creative Pathways in Glasgow took a trip to the archives department at the Mitchell Library to get inspiration for their upcoming sculpture project at the Claypits in north Glasgow.

Michael Gallagher, of GlasgowLife archives department, gave the team a wonderful insight into the changing landscape of the Claypits, presenting maps dating from the mid-nineteenth century up until the time of the World War One.

The group pored over various documents showing the physical and social changes that have occurred in the area. This was invaluable in helping inform ideas on materials and themes, and all this research work is giving the group a more complete view of what is required to complete their sculptural project.

The workshops - which have been running four days a week since 19th September - are also giving the young people the chance to develop artistically and try new creative techniques.

They teamed up with Impact Arts' Our Bright Future Youth Ambassador artist, Natasha De Vries to work on abstract expressionist art. The group excelled in the creative exercises, helping them think in a more abstract way about how they convey emotions, thoughts and feelings through painting and collage work.

The week ended with a day of making and using pinhole cameras. The group spent the day transforming boxes, soft-drink cans and duct tape into handmade cameras.

They also made a darkroom in the basement and developing solution from mint tea, vitamin-C tablets and bicarbonate of soda – a fun and entertaining science experiment.

After everything was ready, they headed to Alexandra Park to test out their cameras, yielding some interesting results. This was hugely popular with the group and they are continuing to refine the process.

Funding and support comes from Our Bright Future, Skills Development Scotland, Inspiring Scotland, the Scottish Children’s Lottery and Scottish Canals.

Our Bright Future supports 31 projects for young people across the UK. This week they kicked off their new hashtag #OwningIt, the brainchild of the Our Bright Future Youth Forum. This is to put across the message that the young people are taking ownership of the projects and leading progressive change in their communities.

In this vein, Creative Pathways are now building up to a public consultation event in north Glasgow ahead of their final showcase on Thursday 23rd November.

Creative Pathways Glasgow get inspired by greats of Modern Art

The Creative Pathways project in Glasgow goes from strength to strength, with young people further developing their creativity through a week of classroom-based learning, a field trip to Edinburgh, and sessions on creating inventive and revelatory works of art.

The highlight of the week for many was the team’s visit to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh last Wednesday. The visit gave the young people and tutors the opportunity to see work by some of the world’s most esteemed artists.

Given that this group is working towards a sculptural project in Possil, they were greatly inspired by the land art of Charles Jencks which lies in front of the gallery. The work of Eduardo Paolozzi, Anthony Gormley and Joan Miro all gave the group ideas and inspiration for their own work – and all this was before we’d even been into the gallery.

Out of the cold and inside the exhibition space, the team split into two groups and explored the two buildings, observing, absorbing and discussing the work on show. It was an invaluable opportunity for the group to see the work of greats like Picasso, Warhol, Magritte and Hepworth - to name but a few.

The previous day, the group enjoyed a two-and-a-half hour presentation on how to read and interpret modern art. Our artist tutors guided them through some of the 20thCentury’s most significant art works - from Marcel Duchamp and Andy Warhol, to Tracey Emin and Cornelia Parker. Throughout the presentation the group made astute observations and showed great maturity of thought when it came to their “ready-made” exercise (pictured).

The week finished with the creation of wonderful self-portraits. After working hard all morning on SQA units – part of the employability component of this course - the group produced wonderful abstract self-portraits. The work from earlier in the week on interpretation had introduced new ideas about the thought processes be goes into creating works of art, and this was evident in the self-portraits that were produced. Visually stunning and packed full of sentiment and meaning, the group finished the week on a creative high.

At this rate we’ll have a number of young people leaving Impact Arts in contention for the Turner Prize!

This Creative Pathways course focuses on environmental design, encouraging the young people to think about green issues on a local level while passing on art and design skills. It is funded by Our Bright Future – a movement funded by the Big Lottery Fund which supports young people to lead progressive and environmental change.

Other funding and support comes from Skills Development Scotland, Inspiring Scotland, the Scottish Children’s Lottery and Scottish Canals.

Meet Natasha: Our new Youth Ambassador in Dennistoun

Natasha De Vries is a Canadian painter and multimedia artist from Vancouver, British Columbia. Having graduated in with a masters in Architecture from Glasgow School of Art, she recently joined Impact Arts as Youth Ambassador for the Our Bright Future project in Dennistoun, Glasgow. This will involve her engaging with local schools and community groups to create public art for the area.

Below, Natasha speaks about her artistic practice, what art is to her and what she hopes to do through working in Dennistoun. More information about Natasha and her art can be found here on her website.

Our Bright Future is funded by the Big Lottery Fund to support young people to lead progressive environmental change in their communities. The information and ideas gathered are shared with 30 other Our Bright Future projects across the UK. Find out more here on their website.

What is your role with Impact Arts?

My official title is Youth Ambassador for the Big Lottery Fund's Our Bright Future project, which aims to empower young people to have agency in their communities, particularly with regards to the environment and the future of their neighbourhoods.

People are what make communities what they are and young people are a part of that - but they often have the most difficulty speaking to the community about their future. My job is to run workshops in Dennistoun to let people talk about what they want for the future of the community and then take what they communicate forwards to help them visually communicate that through art which which will reach the wider community.

There’s this book that almost every art student - at least in Canada - has to read called Mapping the Terrain: New Genre Public Art by Suzanne Lacy and a lot of other really interesting writers and artists. On the cover there is the quote: "to search for the good and make it matter: this is the real challenge for the artist." At Impact Arts I have found a lot of people trying to do that and succeeding - showing it’s possible for art to be a force for good and change in the world, not just some abstract idea. I’m really excited to work with the community in Dennistoun to show my how much better they are at what I do than I am!

How would you describe your artwork/artistic practice?

Art is meant to be shared and to help people share. I think it’s interesting how we communicate and relate to each other, and how strongly we are affected by other people's presence. In western society, we are increasingly individualistic -so I like making work that let’s people engage with other people and the world around them.

What do you aim to say with your artwork?

There are lots of ways to communicate thoughts and feelings to others. Most people have a learning style that work best for them, and it’s the same with communication. Sometimes what you can depict in a painting cannot really be as accurately expressed in writing or speaking. Explaining yourself is something very difficult to do, and when we lack certain types of literacy it’s very frustrating for everyone. I want my work to help people understand but also help them feel understood.

Where has your work been displayed/exhibited?

My work has been displayed in several places in the Lower Mainland in British Columbia, Canada and most recently in Glasgow School of Art's Graduate Degree Show. Back in Canada, my work was shown in the Langley Centennial Museum for the Graduate Degree Show and at the Fort Gallery for a collective art show with a group of artists from the Fort Gallery, my University and the community - anyone could come to the gallery space and draw on the walls with us.

What is your professional goal as an artist?

I’d consider myself a successful artist if I can get my work to the point where it stops being mine - that would be the dream. I like making work that people can put themselves into, that they can identify with and that they can change as they need to. Books, film, music and plays can all do that so I don’t see why art can’t. I want people to be able to look at and interact with my work, and feel it’s theirs just as much as it is mine.

What would you say to encourage other artists to get involved with community arts?

I would ask them who and what they’re making art for. In my experience, most people do not make art just for themselves - you make it to say something, and very few people are trying only to speak for themselves. Most artists I talk to are excited about community art and are really interested in the idea of working with community groups - it’s the "how" that is a lot harder for them and I think the only solution to that is to start talking and working with a community.

For community art to be successful, the group has to want to work with you, and you as the artist have to remember that they are an equal partner in the project. The end work is theirs just as much, if not more than it is yours. As an artist, I know that can be really difficult. But I think there’s something intriguing that comes out of that collaboration and I do believe it’s better and more meaningful than any of the work I could make on my own.

What are similarities and differences between working in Scotland and working in Canada?

It’s been really exciting working and studying in Scotland for the past year and a bit. I still panic a little when I see drivers on the other side of the road, and have definitely thought someone let an eight-year-old drive a car for a good few minutes! It’s definitely different, but in a lot of ways not so different - I actually see and hear less bagpipes here than in Canada. But they also seem to play more than just Amazing Grace, which is a nice change.

There are certainly more old buildings here, but I’ve realized that in Canada our equivalent is probably old growth forests and very large trees. There are things I miss about Canada while I’m here but I think the longer I stay here the more I realise I will miss things about Scotland as well. One of my favourite things about Canada is that overall we’re a small country with an absurdly large land mass that tries to do its best, and I think that’s very true of the people I’ve met here as well. There are plenty of things in any country that seem to be working against you, but I’ve met a lot of people here that really do their best to make things work anyways.

Explosion of creativity kicks off environmental project in Glasgow!

A new Creative Pathways project for young people in the East End of Glasgow has kicked off with an explosion of creativity – and plenty of planning for environmental themed public art in the north of the city.

15 participants – all aged 16 and 17 - will be working with our artist tutors until the end of November to design, develop and create a significant sculptural project for the canal side in north Glasgow.

With support and funding from Our Bright Future, the Big Lottery Fund, Skills Development Scotland, Inspiring Scotland, the Scottish Children’s Lottery and Scottish Canals, the group will be developing their creative talents while working with Impact Arts staff to strengthen skills that will prepare them for employment, education or training.

The project has got off to a flyer, with stacks of incredible work produced! A stand-out piece is this Glasgow Skyline created out of bottle caps, paint chip samples and plywood. Not only is the work beautiful but – fitting with the environmental theme of the project - it uses discarded objects creatively while highlighting the issue of pollution in the city.

The ultimate aim of the project is to develop site-specific sculptures for the Claypits, an area of land in Possil which is undergoing regeneration. With this in mind, the group have been spending time in Alexandra Park, gathering materials and discussing environmental sculpture.

Over the coming weeks, the team will work together to plan projects while thinking about form, structure and materials. They will also learn about photography, product design and 3D printing.

The Claypits, situated by the Forth and Clyde canal, is the former site of a brick factory that had its heyday during the industrial revolution. The area is now a prime site of urban green-space, and home to an array of plant and animal species.

The space is being developed to include a pathway and nature walk, which is where the Creative Pathways team’s sculptures will be installed. This work is in fitting with the ethos of the UK-wide Our Bright Future movement, which supports projects helping young people lead environmental change in their area.

The team are looking forward to working with other creatives, including Glasgow Sculpture Studios, to help produce large scale, professional work designed by the participants. The team will also make field trips to Jupiter Artland, a sculptural tour of Glasgow and to the archives department at the Mitchell Library. It promises to be an exciting and enlightening ten weeks...

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