Venda Louise Pollock

Venda Louise Pollock

Lecturer in Art History, Department of Fine Art, Newcastle University

Creative Spaces & Village Square

Raploch (Stirling), Scotland, 2006-present

Around – some backround info 

Creative Spaces was a participatory public art project in the Raploch area of Stirling, Central Scotland. The Raploch is currently undergoing extensive regeneration and Creative Spaces was the first step in introducing art into the neighbourhood. Through close involvement of a team of volunteers, all of whom had links with the area, and wider community consultation, a series of Creative Spaces (namely TimelineMap and Viewpoint) have been formed alongside the local riverwalk. In addition, the art ‘team’ is involved in the creation of a large information panel and, in recent months, the design for the Village Square, conceived of as a central community space within the refashioned neighbourhood. Since the outset of the project, I have been ‘shadowing’ its development, interviewing those involved and researching in three key areas: process, participation and policy.

Who’s involved?

Creative Spaces participants developing the design for a landmark information panel alongside the Riverwalk.

The lead artist is Peter McCaughey. My research is being carried out in collaboration with Dr Jo Sharp (University of Glasgow) and with the invaluable assistance of the Enhanced Community Support Team (ECST) at the Raploch Urban Regeneration Company (URC), the Raploch Community Partnership (RCP), Stirling’s Public Art Officer and, particularly, the participants themselves.

Background

The Raploch lies in a valley between Stirling Castle and the Wallace Monument, near the site where William Wallace defeated the English army. Despite its historic roots and the undeniable beauty of its location, the Raploch has not prospered like the rest of Stirling. In the post-war era it has suffered from industrial decline and the social and economic problems brought in its wake. It has also been dogged by a notorious reputation, built partly on fact but propagated by media frenzy. In 2005 the Raploch URC became a legal entity, charged with changing the face and the fortunes of the Raploch. As well as changing the physical fabric of the neighbourhood with an improved infrastructure, better housing and amenities, it also aims to enhance opportunities for residents through apprenticeships, training and educational initiatives. Integral to this is community participation and consultation, largely delivered through the work of the ECST. In its process Creative Spaces has sought to mirror this participative ethos to create interventions into the environment that not only provide environmental enhancements but which are also resonant of the true nature of the place.

The Research 

A balloon being launched to mark the opening of Map, one of the Creative Spaces. (Photograph: Jo Sharp)

This research builds on previous work carried out in to a major percent-for-art scheme in the Gorbals area of Glasgow and also a project that looked at the role and impact of public art in a new neighbourhood in Ayr on the West Coast of Scotland. These projects raised questions in three key areas: participation, process and policy. What I am seeking to do is explore the inter-relationship and conflicts between these elements particularly within an urban context. In so doing, I am also interested in exploring and questioning the methodologies used to evaluate and understand public art practices and their effects, if any, on those involved. Integral to this is an appreciation of place, as a physical and social construct, and how it changes and develops and, consequently, the implications this has for the sustainability of the artwork and the effects, if any, of the participative process.

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