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Freeing the Spirit: Part Two

Freeing the Spirit or Causing Chaos: 35 Years with a Scottish arts’ organisation

Following on from Part One, we hear more about the wonderful experiences of former Programme Manager Susan Davis!

Creative Opportunities for all 

We have endeavoured to offer creative opportunities to as wide and diverse an audience as possible from the beginning. This has often been by arranging artist residencies (AiRs), latterly in partnership with external organisations or schools, so that an artist could work with a particular group of people in a more meaningful way. 

Alan Watson, the first Crawford Arts Centre AiR, in addition to creating a large body of new work for exhibition, also worked with Ladybank Primary School to paint an outdoor mural (1990); Adinda Van t’Klooster worked with residents at Rymonth House in St Andrews to make a decorative lightbox for their home (2001); Jim Buchanan not only created a Light Labyrinth in the cloister grounds of St Andrews Cathedral to celebrate St Andrew’s Day – he also made one helped by pupils at Buckhaven High School for their enjoyment (2001)! 

More recently, workshops with Fife carers in 2017 & 2018 led to a more ambitious project being devised in 2019 with Fife artists (Gavin Burnett, Alan Grieve, Rebecca Sharp, Stefanie Cheong) working with 3 carers’ groups to create CARE: The Fife Carers’ Collection. Around the same time, Fife Pride Diversity banners’ workshops with young LGBT+ groups in Levenmouth, Glenrothes, Kirkcaldy and Dunfermline, led by Claire Heminsley and Charlotte Duffy Scott, created a series of eye-catching banners used in the first Fife Pride event on 1 July 2017. This led on to a successful residency with photographer Jannica Honey who worked with Flavours of Fife in Kirkcaldy and Madras Pride in St Andrews to create powerful portrait images celebrating LGBT+ History Month in 2019

With Scottish Arts Council funding, we were delighted to be able to appoint a Social Equalities’ Intern for 15 months, starting in 2010. Tonia Lu worked on various projects with us, and curated an exhibition (Hotpot [art, food + people]) exploring the relationship between people and food which included a set of tempting recipe cards.

Employing artists as curators has been an effective way of introducing new voices to the programme. Claire Barclay curated Causing Chaos at St Andrews Museum, with craft and sculpture by a selection of international artists. A symposium was also arranged to consider some of the exhibition themes. 

These symposia linked to exhibitions (including for Paper Clay Plus in 2000 – curated by Fife ceramicist Anne Lightwood; Placement I and II – curated by Welsh and Scottish ceramic artists Lowri Davies and Dawn Yuill, 2011) have been great ways of bringing together artists from Fife and beyond to share ideas and conversation. 

Keep an eye out for Part Three of Susan’s Fife Contemporary retrospective: A Care for the Environment

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