“A hunner funnels bleezin’, reekin’,
Coal an’ ironstane, charrin’, smeekin’,
Navvies, miners, keepers, fillers,
Puddlers, rollers, iron millers…”
– Excerpt from Oor Location by Janet Hamilton, 19th century Lanarkshire poet
Fifteen young people from North Lanarkshire put on an incredible exhibition last week, transforming the grounds of Coatbridge’s Summerlee Industrial Museum with light projections, animations, abstract sound works and spoken word pieces created over the past ten weeks on our Creative Waterways programme.
The group have been working with Impact Arts at Summerlee since October, learning techniques in digital photography, animation, projection and sound art.
Inspired by the history of industry in North Lanarkshire and life by the Monkland Canal, they used the museum’s exhibits as inspiration, interviewing members of staff at Summerlee and researching local poets’ depictions of working life.
The exhibition – entitled Bleezin’ after a work by local poet Janet Hamilton – was the result of an incredible amount of work by the team. They pulled together a brilliant collection of work, creating an intense, immersive multimedia walking route for those in attendance.
As darkness fell on the museum grounds, the bright colours, burning barrels, enormous digital projections and industrial sound pieces combined to truly striking effect – a fitting way to end the ten week project.
While building their digital and artistic skills, the young people – who were all unemployed at the beginning of the programme – have been getting one-to-one support from Impact Arts to find spaces in work, education and training, including sessions on CV-writing and interview skills, while completing SQA units in employability.
Nina Maxwell, 17, is one of the Creative Waterways participants. She was impressed by seeing everything pulled together for the showcase.
“I didn’t really know what to expect, but everything looks amazing – especially in darkness under the UV lights.
“The project has made me more creative. I’m now looking to go to college to do something like photography, which I knew I liked already but the course has made me realise it’s what I want to do.
“Creative Waterways is a good thing for young people to get into. It’s fun, relaxed and it makes you more confident – everyone gets their say. We’ve also gained 15 new pals out of it, so it’s win-win!”
Sarah Hill is one of the artist tutors working with the young people over the past ten weeks.
“We were really impressed by the work the young people created,” she said.
“The exhibition looked spectacular, and that wouldn’t have been possible without hard work and dedication from the whole group. It was great to see the participants bursting with pride during the event.
“They’ve gained skills for life while will serve them well in the jobs, education and training they’ll move on to in the future – we couldn’t be more proud.”
We’d like to offer an enormous thank you to the funders and partners who made this project possible: the Scottish Waterways Trust, YouthLink Scotland, the Big Lottery Fund, Our Bright Future, Bairdwatson Charitable Trust, CashBack for Communities and the Scottish Government.