Kathleen Turner is a singer-songwriter,
community musician and researcher. She is Course Director and Lecturer on the MA
Community Music at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance – the centre for
excellence in music and dance performance and research based at the University
Kathleen is part of the Clore Leadership
programme, and we have been privileged to have her at Impact Arts as part of
her secondment for Clore. As she comes to the end of her placement, we
spoke to Kathleen about her time with Impact Arts, her work on Craft Café and
Young Gallery, and what she will take away from it all.
How was your overall experience working with
Craft Café in Govan?
Working in Craft Cafe has been a
real highlight for me, not only of my time with Impact Arts but also of my time
in Clore overall. The atmosphere there is incredibly welcoming, and the
community there have a powerful sense of friendship and support. I’ve learned a
lot from the way the Impact Arts leaders, Charlotte and Quinn, have so much
time and patience with every individual. The community members are really
passionate about art and the role the cafe plays in their lives – it’s a
What do you think was special or different in
the music sessions to the the more visual/craft side of things?
We spent time talking to the
community at Craft Cafe about what they’d like the singing sessions to be. I’m
so glad we did that because it meant the music sat very well as part of the
usual weekly set-up.
We kept it very informal and
open, so anyone could join in at any time and knew there was no pressure. I
think the addition music brings is a sense of collective joy – when you sing in
a group, you can create a positive atmosphere and that was something that could
impact everyone in the room, even if they chose not to join in the singing
Are there any particularly memorable moments?
The members of Craft Cafe are
fantastic people – such great artists and so kind and generous with their time.
They shared so many stories with me, about their lives in Glasgow, working and
growing up here. They’ve told me stories about traveling around the world,
living through the war, stories about their families, working in factories, and
hospitals and schools.
I’ve really been invited to be
part of their lives while I’ve been here – that’s a privilege.
In terms of memorable moments, I think I’ll
properly treasure my first ever painting. On my first day at Craft Cafe, a
table of ladies took me under their wing when they discovered I hadn’t painted
since school. That canvas will be sitting proudly on my wall at home.
How was working in the Primary Schools? What
was the purpose of the workshops, and what did you do?
I had such a gorgeous time
working with P1s and 2s in Haghill Primary and St Denis’s. We had six weeks of
singing songs from around the world and visited Ghana, Jamaica, India, America
and Poland. The purpose of the workshops was to explore different cultures and
languages, and to see just how much we could do while only using our voices.
It’s a very simple format. The children and the teachers have been really
welcoming – I love how immediately that age group will let you know when you’re
worthy of their trust. I remember around week 3 I arrived at one school as the
kids were coming in from the playground. Every one of them stopped at the door
to give me some news or show me their toys or show off their new shoes! It’s
very special to be invited into their community like that.
Both schools were really engaged
and obviously come from a school culture where the arts are valued. They sing
out and try really hard to master all the new words and melodies – fantastic
work from both the classes. Their teachers and head teachers are really
supportive and that makes all the difference.
How has your overall experience been with
Impact Arts has been a really key
part of my year as a Clore Fellow. While I’ve been here, I’ve had the chance to
see so many different elements at work. As an organisation, there’s a powerful
sense of shared ethos here. Everyone I’ve met, whether it’s a member of Craft
Cafe, a young artist in Creative Pathways, or a member of the administrative
team – everyone passionately believes in the impact that art-making and art-accessing
can make in our everyday lives.
It’s a testament to how important
people are in the success of an organisation – the team here are passionate and
also really highly skilled and knowledgable. It’s been inspiring, and I’ve also
gained a lot of skills that I’ll be bringing home to put to work in my own
How do you hope Impact Arts take forward the
work you have been doing?
There’s been a really positive
response to singing, so I hope that music becomes a more long-term feature of
Craft Cafe and Young Gallery. There are so many avenues to explore and
hopefully we’ll keep in contact so I can be part of that conversation if I can
How do you think your time here will
influence your own career?
I’ve learned the importance of
conversation here – there’s such a high level of consultation and care in each
of the projects and a strong sense of trust in the local community. I think
that comes from taking the time to have meaningful conversations, so people can
truly direct the shape their art takes and have a genuine sense of ownership
and agency. For me, that indicates true excellence in community work, and I’ll
be taking that learning back with me for my students at home, but also for my
own practice as a community musician. I’ve also learned a lot about new methods
of project documentation and evaluation. Impact Arts has a strong sense of care
and legacy around the stories of their projects and communities – again, I’ll
be taking those frameworks home and trying to put them into practice.
The MA Community Music at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance – of which Kathleen is Course Director – has a
scholarship for community musicians for UK or Ireland aged under 25. Find more information here.