Saturday, June 06, 2015

June 2015

I walked down to an almost-deserted UWS Paisley campus this afternoon to pick up photocopies and materials for our Govan-Gdansk symposium on Monday and Tuesday; the rest of the university seems to be packing up for the summer holiday but the pace of events and activity is still pretty relentless in my world. We're welcoming a group of activists, academics, artists and civic leaders from Glasgow and Gdansk for the first workshop for our Royal Society of Edinburgh - funded research networking project. This will be followed up by the third Gdansk Shipyard Summer School at the start of August. Govan (and specifically, Water Row and the Graving Docks) is one of the sites that we have selected for our AHRC Connected Communities large grant proposal: Challenging Elites: rethinking disconnection and recovering urban space. That went in last week, and will now be chewed over by peer reviewers: we will hear if we've got through to the next stage in September. Whatever the outcome, it has been a useful and productive process and has enabled the team to crystallise some thinking about 'austerity urbanism', elite theory and the cultural politics of contested urban sites. It would be great if we get the opportunity to put some of the ideas we have developed into action.

Working with Remco de Blaaij, the Curator at CCA Glasgow, I have organised the first of a series of workshops/seminars in the run-up to an exhibition in 2016, which will happen on 19th and 20th of June. The 2016 exhibition, provisionally titled The Image Event,  will examine the relationships between journalistic practices, contemporary arts practices, politics and citizen/social media. For this first workshop, we're delighted to be welcoming Eliot Higgins of Bellingcat to Glasgow, for screenings, presentation and discussion with Joanna Callaghan (University of Sussex) and my UWS colleague Peter Snowdon. It promises to be a stimulating evening: tickets can be booked here.

Drawing on work I did a decade ago, I'll be contibuting to an RSA symposium on Creative Apprenticeships in Manchester on 23rd June. I need to do some more thinking about how the 'creative learning' agenda has mutated/evolved in a possibly more hostile policy environment (at least, south of the border) and this might just be a stimulus for that. Then, back in Ayr on the 24th June we will be hosting a small psychogeographic adventure as a workshop for the Scottish Graduate School for the Arts and Humanities Summer School, which will be led by our erstwhile PhD student, now Dr Ben Parry. (Ben and I are also working on a book which draws on the marvellous range of presentations from the Cultural Hijack Contravention at RIBA, which we hope will see the light of day towards the end of 2016).

Finally, before taking a couple of weeks off, most of which will probably be spent dealing with a garden and a house that has got massively out of control, Kerrie Schaefer and I are presenting at the Community Development Journal 50th Anniversary Conference at the University of Edinburgh. We'll be talking about the messy and pragmatic (but also political and ethical) negotiations that take place in community media/film practices, drawing on work from the Remaking Society project. Kerrie and I are also presenting later this year at the "Poor Theatres" symposium in Manchester; drawing together some work on deprivation, austerity and community performance (which also links to the work that Ben Parry has done on the politics of representing poverties in Dharavi, as well as the films that Hugh Kelly and I are continuing to unpack together). But that can wait for another post.