Sanctuary: Contemporary art and human rights (2003) #memories for Refugee Week 2013

Sanctuary - installation shot Gallery 1

In some ways it feels like a long journey since GoMA worked on Sanctuary, the first of our social justice biennials, but on the other hand it hardly seems like 10 years. Today our Saturday Art Club is part of Refugee Week and there is a continually exciting and growing programme  in the city for this festival that the Scottish Refugee Council pulls together each year.

This blog is still in its infancy, but one of the aims for it was to be an archive of work we are asked about. So, to mark 10 years since Sanctuary, I have created a page for the programme in this blog and also updated some of the archive photographs over on the flickr page. We had already considered the idea of archiving and presenting the Sanctuary programme at the time. I worked with Lindsay Perth to create a CD-Rom of the whole programme, designed to be interactive and very visual. I still have some copies, but technology has moved so fast that these are pretty obsolete so this seems the most appropriate way to share that programme.

It was an exciting time for the gallery. New staff were joining the team and the Studio was converted into a learning and workshop space. The Library@GoMA was also opening and creating new possibilities for events and resources in GoMA. I joined as the outreach programme was starting in September 2002 and it was an exhilarating, if at sometimes intense, start to a new post and programme at GoMA. By the time the exhibitions for Sanctuary were opening in April 2003, the project has worked with four organisations across the city and their work was displayed alongside that of major international artists. The opening was fantastic with over 1200 people attending and from all over the city. It felt like something new.

Work from the outreach projects continued to develop and were exhibited in the Balcony Galleries until well into 2004. Sanctuary was shortlisted for the Gulbenkian Prize for Museum of the Year, now Art Fund Museum of the Year (and won the people’s vote much to our delight). The success of the programme, the feedback from visitors and the commitment of partners like Amnesty International and participants in the outreach programme ensured that social justice programmes were to become a core part of our work for the next 6 years.

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1 comment
  1. Reblogged this on playablespaces and commented:
    As it was refugee week in the last few days I was thinking about past work. I had realised earlier in the year that it was now 10 years since I had worked on Sanctuary: Contemporary art and human rights and wanted to mark that somehow. The GoMA blog seemed to be the place, especially as we are in the process of expanding it to act as some kind of online archive for our work.

    Sanctuary in lots of ways was a whirlwind. I was new to Glasgow Museums, new to Glasgow and this was the first major gallery institution I had ‘proper work’ with. ie: not a volunteer or intern. There was a lot going on and I was meeting and working with new people all the time. When I look back at the programme we attempted loads that year, and asked a lot of people too. We went on to develop other projects with some of the people and groups we worked with and the gallery learnt a lot about where it wanted to go with the social justice programmes as an institution.

    That first year in post I worked with a number of fantastic artists. Some of them I went on to work with again in further social justice programmes including Belinda Guidi, Jane McInally, Heather Lynch, Charlie Hackett, David Sherry, Lesley-Ann Clark, Lindsey Perth, Calum Stirling and James McLardy. Some of them I am still working with or following what they are up to now.

    Going through the photographs it hardly seems like 10 years ago and especially seeing some of the archive footage from films from Jane McInally. I wonder where some of those young people involved are now…

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