The McManus: Dundee's Art Gallery & Museum has been reflecting and celebrating a project showcasing artworks produced in a partnership with Tayside Healthcare Arts Trust, the ST/ART group. The work is now part of a more extensive collection of works called Scottish Creations in collaboration with 'Scottish Ensemble' and 'Creative Lives', exploring a whole range of stories.
Scottish Creations has been led by both ‘Creative Lives’ and ‘Scottish Ensemble’ and takes inspiration from’ Scotland's Year of Stories’ and exploring how we narrate these stories through musical, visual, literal and digital aspects. Six different areas in Scotland have worked with community groups to create responses to the nation in many different and diverse ways. Works were also curated as part of the wider exhibition through a public open call to amateur, leisure time and semi-professional artists that included sculpture, needlework, ceramics, tapestry, photography, painting and creative writing.
Cheryl McDermid, Creative Learning Officer at The McManus said,
"The museum’s Learning Team worked with the ST/ART group to respond to the museum's collection alongside their own memories and stories. They had the chance to work in the Creative Learning Studio, explore creative writing with authors and work with artists to explore and learn collage techniques and photography skills.
"This fantastic display of artworks was the culmination of a wider national project called Scottish Creations to create a body of work that was then exhibited alongside a touring musical concert by Scottish Ensemble.” They created music to tell the stories of Scotland, and that was really beautiful. The group's work was also on show at the finale at the Caird Hall."
"The McManus is known across the city and beyond as the people's museum. Our key core value is that people have opportunities these types of creative experiences. It is always at our heart that we try to empower people who may not have been to the museum before, who may feel scared about coming into a setting like this. We want people to feel a part of it and that it is their museum. It's really empowering when people feel they are not creative and realise that they discover something completely new through these informal, social, hands-on sessions."
"I feel that's what the journey of many of the participants has been like. Participants within ST/ART all struggle with long-term health conditions including brain injuries, strokes and chronic pain. Experiences like these are crucial and benefit their health and wellbeing through access to culture."
Steven Ogg, a ST/ART participant in the project said,
"Just to be included at The McManus makes me proud to be a part of it. It isn't easy to put into words at times, but it's been a great experience. To see everyone's work, not just to see my own, was good to see."
"We were taken around the exhibition called The Street at The McManus, which inspired me. They have some William Low's stuff from years gone by, and my first job was there. My artwork just grew from a small beginning to what it is now, and the pictures led to the poem I did. Lots of experiences were included, some good and some not so good."
"The project took around four months, including the exhibition. The Scottish Ensemble toured the country with this project and work which was nice to hear."
"I had done a bit of creating artworks digitally during the pandemic, but these were the first face-to-face sessions, this was a real highlight."
"I now have plans to go on and have asked about doing more similar things and taking it from there. It was a really good experience, and all the facilitators have been so supportive throughout the duration."
Many of the participants were on a journey, and one of their heartfelt quotes sums it up.
The participant said
"I often felt invisible, isolated and at times useless since my brain injury but attending this group with others in the same situation has made me make positive connections and new friendships."
The work was part of a touring concert and exhibition, stopping off at Mull, Skye, Inverness, Shetland, Aberdeen and finally at The McManus in Dundee.
For further information, visit https://scottishensemble.co.uk/programme/2021-22/scottish-creations/