Artist-led spaces in Dundee have been critical to the development of the city’s cultural identity from icons like GENERATORprojects to new radicals such as Wooosh Gallery. In spite of this, space remains the biggest challenge for artists to base, make and show their practice in the city.
As Dundee prepares to welcome Art Night to its cultural venues and public spaces in June, Creative Dundee is partnering with Art Night to lead two conversations with local collectives and organisations which explore how artists and communities creatively use and reimagine space in and around the city.
The first event, Taking Space, will take place on Monday 12 June in the lead up to Art Night, bringing together artists, collectives and grassroots organisations in Dundee that are part of the festival programme, alongside Art Night’s Artistic Director, Helen Nisbet. The conversation will focus on the use and occupation of temporary spaces, through to more permanent cultural uses. What opportunities to make, share and collaborate do these spaces bring?
Following on from the festival, Making Space on Tuesday 11 July will discuss Art Night’s ambition of making spaces and culture more accessible; exploring its legacy and discussing how together we can utilise this momentum, with conversations led by artist-led and community groups who are part of Art Night’s Inwith programming.
We hope that together these events will help highlight some of our wider work addressing the lack of space in the city and advocating for better access to creative spaces and tools for both creative practitioners and communities across Dundee.
Monday 12 June, 7.00–8.30pm
The Steps Theatre, Central Library, The Wellgate, Dundee DD1 1DB
Jek McAllister is an artist, facilitator, cook and gardener based in Dundee. She currently works at Ninewells Community Garden and in many freelance capacities. Since graduating from Fine Art at DJCAD in 2019, Jek has – alongside fellow graduates Finlay Hall and Jamie Donald – run Wooosh Gallery, Dundee’s sexiest, most haunted car park gallery that is open 24/7. In the Skinny’s words, Wooosh is ‘one of those spaces that’s really very cool to know’. They use temporary A4-based installations and performative openings, known as woooshes, to satirise and address the lack of opportunities for recent graduates and emerging artists in the city. In the many hats she wears, Jek is mainly concerned with creating fun circumstances for people to come together, hang out and experience or learn something new.
Helen Nisbet is a London-based curator who is originally from Shetland. She is Artistic Director for Art Night, a UK-wide contemporary art festival which presents ambitious work by artists in civic spaces, which will take place in Dundee this June. She is a jury member for the 2023 Turner Prize and sits on the boards of Shetland based artist-led organisation, Gaada, alongside a-n The Artists Information Company and Artquest. Helen previously held organisational curatorial positions with Cubitt; the Arts Council Collection; the Contemporary Art Society and the Lighthouse and she has contributed to programmes at Creative Time, New York; the Venice Biennale and London based galleries Hollybush Gardens and The Sunday Painter.
Nicola Rubczak (she/they) is a contemporary art curator and programmer. Nicola is currently the programming lead at GENERATORprojects, Dundee’s longest-established artist-run initiative. Born and raised in Dundee, Nicola studied in the Philosophy department here to Masters level, and remains philosophical in her approach to curation. She has served on the GENERATOR committee for a year, having previously worked on the Public Art Dundee project. Nicola is interested in grassroots organising, social justice and public engagement and is passionate about equality of access to the arts and the idea that contemporary art can be for everyone.
Andy Robertson is a designer, artist and the Creative Arts Lead for Hot Chocolate Trust, a charity that engages, builds relationships, and grows community with young people in Dundee, supporting them on their own terms. He is passionate about the interplay between design and community – the positive social impacts that good quality creative engagement can enable, and the need for design to be rooted in the real-world needs of the contexts in, and people for, which it exists. Artistically, Andy is interested in the spaces between possibility and impossibility, reality and imagination, known and unknown, ordinary and extraordinary.
Unfortunately our speaker Donna Holford-Lovell is no longer able to attend the event.
This event has been curated by Creative Dundee in partnership with Art Night.