Glasgow Sculpture Studios

When Glasgow Sculpture Studios was founded in 1988 it created a new and much needed Studio and Workshop facility for sculptors in Scotland. The founder members, including Tracy MacKenna, Sibylle yon Halem, Kate Thomson and Jacki Parry persuaded the Scottish Arts Council to put up 1.500 [pounds sterling] to cover set-up costs. Since then, funding has increased and membership to the Studios has grown to over a hundred, a large number of whom are women.

The Studios not only offer space (full-time and part-time) and the use of specialist tools, but also provide an organisational structure, administered by Julia Radcliffe, which actively seeks to gain funding, commissions and group projects for the membership. With the Glasgow Garden Festival of 1988, and the build up to the 1990 City of Culture, interest in sculpture in Glasgow has grown dramatically as has the willingness by local and government sponsors to put money into sculptural projects. The Studios have organised and taken part in various exhibitions and events including ‘Sculpture in Springburn’ (Springburn Museum, Glasgow 1988) and ‘New Beginnings’ Soviet Arts in Glasgow season 1989. The Studios enjoy a good working relationship with the District Council, who not only provide funding (along with the Scottish Arts Council, the Henry Moore Foundation, the Gulbenkian Foundation and numerous private sponsors) but also provide them with commissions.

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Most recently the Studio has set up the Glasgow Milestones project, which aims to encourage local communities to actively participate in commissioning a sculpture for a site of their own choice. The first phase of the project will, it is hoped, be going ahead this year.

Individuals, with the support of the Studios, have also been involved in community and educational projects. Wilma Eaton is currently at work with the Scottish Trade Union Congress, and Sarah Nevill is the artist in residence at the Sacred Heart High School in Paisley. Other women members include Fiona Sutherland (on show at the Barbican. London), Linda Reddy (presently participating in an art symposium in Hungary), Victoria Anderson (architectural sculpture), Lucinda Wilkinson, Alison Doyle, Julie Roberts and Valerie Pragnell (who along with Sibvlle van Halem and Tracy MacKenna exhibited at the ‘New Directions in Scottish Sculpture’ at Barbican, London in January, and again at the ‘Scottish Art since 1990′ in February).

What is very refreshing about the Glasgow Sculpture Studios is that it isn’t afraid to be ambitious for its membership and the Studios as a whole, though at the same time it makes no stylistic demands, has no selection process for membership and does not insist that artists sell in order to remain as members. For those that do, a small commission is charged on all sales and paid commissions from which a good part of the Studios revenue is generated. It seems to be a very successful support system, and is actively engaged in expanding so as to offer more residential studio space.

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