As part of FORUM, this is an update on recent events. In the earlier sections about the situation regarding contemporary visual art in West Lothian, I mentioned that if an opportunity came up to do something active in the area I would take it. Although, at the time I wrote that statement, I had little hope that it would happen, I am glad to report that this opportunity did arise - so setting in motion PROJECT 2022. First though I would like to share a video I was involved in making with French student Matis Leggiadro who shares my enthusiasm for democracy in art. This was recorded just over a year ago in 2021 and it is a reminder of what the situation was at the time.
Picture below - Livingston New Town. The location of our art space is shown inside the blue circle.
FINDING THE ART! WEST LOTHIAN'S HIDDEN MASTERPIECE
On the same day I found out about the EP Spaces programme (through which we get our art space), I also found out about the artwork NIDDRIE WOMAN by John Latham. This came as a surprise because, although Latham is a well-know and respected artist, I had never heard of the piece although I have lived in the area for a while. My thanks go to Dr Andrew McNiven who alerted me to both EP Spaces and the NIDDRIE WOMAN. I was interested to find out more about the sculpture which is a piece of land art essentially, and perhaps discover more about why I had not heard of it. I want to start PROJECT 2022, therefore, by celebrating this finding of a monumental and life-enhancing piece of art in the area where I was having difficulty locating any real artistic heart. The NIDDRIE WOMAN has a heart, torso, head and limbs and was created by one of Britain's most innovate artists of the twentieth- century. Below is a link to an article I wrote which will explain more.
Pictured above is the artist John Latham at the site of the NIDDRIE WOMAN
BULB MAGAZINE - HANNAH & JORJA
One of the projects we have been engaged in (even before we moved into our space) has been the developing of the publication BULB Magazine. To date we have published four issues which can be viewed on this website under BULB MAGAZINE. In issue # 4, we were pleased to feature in the GALLERY section artwork by two young girls Hannah Evans and Jorja Scott. Their inspiring stories and splendid artwork enhanced the magazine and we were honoured to be able to include them. Hannah, who attends Cedar Bank School in Livingston, was able to share here experience in a post on Twitter by her school (pictured below). Also pictured are examples of both girl's artwork.
We are pleased to announce that Hannah has received 1st prize in the Art category in the West Lothian Council Achievement Awards 2022.
Digital image by Hannah Evans
Hannah holding a copy of BULB Magazine where her artwork is shown in the Gallery section.
Design by Edinburgh College student Jorja Scott
Since our aim is to show contemporary art in the area, we decided to use our space as soon as possible to put on exhibitions. After moving in in September 2021 we wanted to start the programme straight away so held our first exhibition PLANET A in January 2022. The exhibition was mainly on the theme of the environment, most of the artwork was by myself (not out of vanity but out of a need to get it up and running quickly). Pip Denham (another artist with a studio in the building) contributed sculptures and David Hutchison a film maker and artist from Edinburgh showed two short films.
Pictured below is a still from the short film New Curios by David Hutchison.
To see more images and read about the PLANET A exhibition go to BULB Magazine # 3 - Platform Plus - New Year - New Gallery)
For our next exhibition which was held in March we were pleased to show RECYCLE a selection of artwork by the artist Robert McCubbin. Robert, who lives on the west coast of Scotland, makes artwork using discarded packaging. He is a graduate from Grey's School of Art in Aberdeen.
HEETS & UNTITLED
7th - 18th MARCH 2022
POINT OF SALE
The exhibition was a attended by art students from the local college (West Lothian College) some of whom are applying to Greys School of Art where the artist Robert studied. They said that they found it helpful to be able to look at his work. Now, mainly as a result of their visit to the exhibition and the art space, the students are staging their HNC end of year show in the building (with the assistance of Pip Denham one of the building's artist residents). This is great news for the promotion of contemporary visual art in in Livingston.
Pictured below - A group of West Lothian College art students visiting the RECYCLE exhibition.
EXHIBITION - 23.02 (UKRAINIAN VOICES)
The devastating events since February 2022 when Ukraine became the victim of Russian aggression has both shocked and sickened every descent person on the planet. Earlier this year we were introduced to two young Ukrainian women who came to Scotland to escape the situation in their home country, Vika Yasynska and Ira Andereichuk. They were keen to continue with the creative work they have temporarily left behind in Ukraine, Vika is a photo-journalist who had been covering the hostilities since 2014 and Ira a graphic-designer who had been working in theatre. As a result and after some discussion a group of people came together with the intention of having an exhibition of the work of both Vika and Ira. The first of these is currently being shown at the Ocean Terminal shopping centre in Leith, Edinburgh in the former Debenhams store which is now a community space called The Wee Hub. In the exhibition Vika is showing her series of black & white portrait heads of men who served as volunteer fighters in Ukraine and who have very sadly died in the course of this terrible conflict. This is Vika's project entitled "The Portrait of a Soldier" This project has been combined with portaits and stories of Sons and Mothers where Vika seeks to show how determined and uncompromising Ukrainians are when it comes to protecting their native land, and how high is the price they pay for the freedom of their families. All of Vika's portraits are accompanied by text which are testimonies from the sitters depicted in the portraits. Ira has produced, while living here in Scotland, a series of powerful digital image paintings which depict her memories of what it has been like living in Ukraine since the invasion began in February. Her images of blackout nights, late night street vigils for fallen soldiers and underground shelters are extremely evocative capturing the feeling of these experiences with chilling accuracy which convey the unsettling nature of the experience. The exhibition will also be shown at the Chaplaincy at Edinburgh University in September.
Pictured above Vika Yasinskaya (left) and Ira Andreichuk (right)
GOOD FOR ONE YEAR - TIME TO MOVE ON
At last the chance to develop a creative centre in Livingston. In the "Volunteering" section of this website I said that if an opportunity to do something here came up I would jump at it. Well, the opportunity did come up in the shape of an EP Spaces property to secure at a very reasonable price. This is an initiative by the Edinburgh Printmakers to utilise empty premises which would otherwise become neglected. Instead they are transformed into arts venues, split into various sections and occupied by people who want to create and produce art and/or use for creative projects. We were fortunate enough to secure a space and will move in soon, this gives us the chance to develop our work and reach out to the community in Livingston and surrounding area with the intention of helping to stimulate and democratise the artistic environment here. The picture below shows the venue Barbara Ritchie House which was previously the HM Revenue & Customs offices.
Unfortunately, we have been given the news that we have to vacate our space at Barbara Ritchie House by the end of this month (October 2022). We are obviously disappointed that we have to leave, however, we see this as a short time set-back and are hopeful that another similar space will come along. EP Spaces are already looking for new premises so we hope that this will just be a temporary situation. The year we have had in BRH has been productive so here's to the next chapter in the PROJECT 2022 story!
A NEW LIFE FOR BARBARA RITCHIE HOUSE
It has just been announced that the building is going to become a performing arts academy - best of luck to the new venture. Read more about it here - https:www.insider.co.uk/news/former-tax-office-transformed-performing-28713267