In this day workshop, we will introduce participants to the work that the team has been doing between the two waterfront industrial heritage zones of Govan in Glasgow and Gdansk, Poland. This action research project has been running for nearly a decade, and has its origins in a PhD research project at UWS undertaken by Roman Sebastyanski, exploring the role of artists in preserving and protecting the heritage of the Gdansk shipyard, Poland. It soon became apparent to his supervisors, Prof Katarzyna Kosmala and Graham Jeffery, that there could be significant value in establishing an exchange between artists, researchers, activists, planners and communities surrounding both shipyard sites and a series of projects and interventions have been developed over the last seven years which engage with the two places. Working with a range of artists, activists and social enterprises, in particular through the facilitation of Liz Gardiner of Fablevision in Glasgow, and Roman Sebastyanski in Gdansk, the ‘Govan-Gdansk’ knowledge exchanges initiative has been subsequently developed into an international research network Regeneration and Waterfront Heritage Zones in Northern Europe that delivered a range of workshops, events, exhibitions, seminars and public interventions, in collaboration with many different ‘stakeholders’ – including Glasgow Museums, NHSGGC and Fairfield.
Today we will mainly focus on Govan’s riverside, which is in the midst of significant change. We will travel from Film City Glasgow on the edge of the Pacific Quay ‘digital media quarter’ to the east, via the Graving Docks heritage site, currently subject to a highly contested housing planning application, to Water Row opposite the Riverside Museum, to Glasgow’s new ‘mega-hospital’ to the west to see the current exhibition Riverside Solidarity. Along the way we will uncover and examine a number of artistic and cultural interventions that have been intended to influence the debate about the future of Govan as a place to live, work and visit. These changes are taking place in the context of Glasgow’s ‘competitive city branding’ strategy with major events, creative industries, and cultural participation given prominence in official regeneration narratives; Govan’s heritage of medieval kings, shipbuilding, dissent, colonial/imperial connections, and football is often invoked as part of the official ‘Glasgow story’. Despite this celebratory (and occasionally mythological) narrative, much research continues on social determinants of ill-health, sectarianism and other forms of division and exclusion; and many sections of the city, including Govan, experience persistent poverty, under-employment and low life-expectancy. The site is a highly contested, fluid, difficult and complex set of spaces, with multiple layers of history, heritage, narrative and economic activity to contend with.
There is a considerable body of research on Govan’s third sector, legacies of philanthropic Victorian capitalism (e.g. the Pearce Institute) and ‘municipal socialism’ in the heritage-led story of Govan, expressed through institutions such as the Govan Fair and Govan’s status as an iconic political site, with political struggles played out from the rent strikes of the early 20th Century, through Jimmy Reid and the Upper Clyde Shipworkers to the political rise of Nicola Sturgeon; all these narratives persist alongside continued, multi-layered and complex interconnections between organisations, strategies and the local authority, what Amin (2002) has critiqued as the ‘corporate social economy’.
The site visit takes in cultural sights of Govan and presents an opportunity to view some of the sites discussed in the morning sessions in context, as well as discuss further some of the issues and opportunities for using PAR in the field.
The site visit to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital will allow viewing of the Riverside Solidarity exhibition, with further opportunities for discussion.
PAR in practice - Govan Docks and the Riverside Solidarity project: Liz Gardiner (UWS) and Iain McGillivray (Clyde Docks Preservation Initiative) (click on first slide to view as slideshow)
PAR, Role of Arts and Exhibition curation: Professor Katarzyna Kosmala (click on first slide to view as slideshow)
Research/practice interventions: Lee Ivett (Baxendale) (click on first slide to view as slideshow)
Where now for Post industrial waterfront heritage zones of our ship building cities? (click on first slide to view as slideshow)
Participatory creative practice: Insights from Regeneration and Waterfront Heritage Zones in Northern Europe- Professor Katarzyna Kosmala (UWS) (click on first slide to view as slideshow)
Photos by Alison McCandlish