social justice



On Saturday 10 December 2016 to mark International Human Rights Day 2016 and the end of the UN 16 Days to Eliminate Violence Against Women, GoMA worked with the artist Mandy McIntosh on her work International Human Rights Day Disco.

For International Human Rights day, the Studio at GoMA will become a discotheque, literally a library of records, DJ-ed by Artex Scar AKA Mandy McIntosh, The Mighty Bass Warrior Sound System and Mungos Hi Fi . The aim was to create a social space for listening and dancing. A Tramalfadorean timeline of the human grooves that stir/red us to strike/march/donate/knit/embrace/dance/reject/become.

For Mandy this work came out of the radical roots of disco. “From the direct actions of Swingjugend amd Zazous, who danced to “degenerate” swing jazz in the face of Nazi oppression, to the Rock Against Racism movement of the 70s and 80s, music has always provided a social, structural or lyrical counterpoint to attacks on Human Rights. Records can act as a transmission of political information or reinforcements of unity. They can also illustrate what human beings want to happen within an echoing epoque and transfer to us where we feel most ourselves.” Mandy McIntosh 2016

A massive massive thanks to everyone who brought their joy, kindness and dancing feet and joined us on the afternoon for conversation, listening to the music and dancing til the sun went down. We loved and and are already planning next year’s one!

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Happy International Women’s Day to all you amazing and inspirational women out there!

We are really proud to have a number of amazing women artists’ work on display at the moment including Barbara Kruger, Jenny Holzer, Cat Picton Phillips, Emily Jacir and just opened Sue Tompkins.

We are also extremely excited to be opening an exhibition specifically to celebrate International Women’s Day. Illuminated Letters was developed in partnership with Glasgow Women’s Library (GWL) and was inspired by the glorious letter writing of Niki de St Phalle, and GWL’s wish to receive letters in their new home.  GoMA and GWL invited women across the world to write illuminated letters of love and honour to lost heroines.

Launched on International Women’s Day last year, GWL have run with this project and now have over 200 letters from women to other women. This exhibition is a selection of 80  of those letters and has letters from women all over Scotland and further afield.

The beautiful and inspiring letters exhibited represent some of the wonderful women whose lives, histories and achievements can be found on the shelves at GWL. Come and see these and rest of these works exhibited at Glasgow Women’s Library at 23 Landressy Street, Glasgow G40 1BP or visit the blog and read about the women who inspired them.

A big thank you to all the amazing staff at GWL and Anna Touzin, who was on placement at GoMA last year, for making this lovely project happen.

Illuminated Letters runs from 8 – 23 March 2014 in Balcony 1.

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Today is International Human Rights Day and the final day of the UN 16 Days of Action to eliminate violence against women.  I wanted to mark this day by updating our blog archive with the information on Rule of Thumb – our social justice programme on violence against women, which ran from 2004 -2005.

Following on from Sanctuary in 2003, this programme developed the work at GoMA on social justice and elbowroom, the lead-in exhibition, opened on International Human Rights Day in 2004. Work on Rule of Thumb had begun 18 months before and we had a huge support from the two key partners: Amnesty International and Rape Crisis Scotland, along with other members of the Advisory Group including:Glasgow Women’s Library; Glasgow Violence Against Women Partnership; Glasgow Women’s Aid; Rape Crisis Centre, Glasgow; Wise Women – Personal Safety Tutors; Meridian – Centre for Black and Ethnic Minority Women and the Women’s Support Project.

Barbara Kruger’s installation at GoMA was fantastic and images from it, documented by Ruth Clark, are over on flickr. The installation in Gallery 4 brought in people interested in her work, the issue and on the off-chance. Our resource space was often filled with people leaving messages of support for women and girls facing violence and sometimes their own personal stories. The work from all the outreach projects was a powerful experience for everyone involved and the artworks shown along with the fragments of conversations around them will stay with me for a long time.

Victoria Hollows, the Museum Manager at the time, and I are speaking about this work later today. We are part of a panel discussion for the Irish Museum of Modern Art and the National College of Art and Design (Dublin) have organised as part of the exhibition: And They Tell Me Life is Good, They Tell Me to Live it Gently. This seminar has been organised to bring together cultural institutions, artists, social work, NGOs and criminal justice services to look at how we can work together to raise awareness about violence against women and develop a zero tolerance across our cities towards violence against women. It is also a timely reminder for us to celebrate those women who have survived and of the amazing work that so many people contributed to this programme and subsequent work on violence against women and the UN 16 Days of Action that GoMA has been involved in.

On International Human Rights Day we should also remember those women still needing our support and their struggle not to be forgotten. One way Glasgow is doing this is signing up to be a White Ribbon City in 2014. More about this will be available next year through the Glasgow Violence Against Women Partnership, but in the meantime you can sign up and pledge your support for the White Ribbon Campaign here.

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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