Arts body defends funding as artist comes under fire for “patronising” project
Dundee-based and English born, Ellie Harrison says she'll stay in Glasgow for a year. But critics say the project is nothing original or new
An artist has been ridiculed and mocked on social media for being awarded a £15,000 grant to stay in Glasgow for a year as part of an artistic project.
Creative Scotland, the arts body and registered charity, is backing artist and lecturer Ellie Harrison in her quest to not leave the city for a year as part of an experiment she calls The Glasgow Effect.
The artist calls the project "provocative artwork" and that it would “operate on many levels at once” questioning, among other things, ideas about community.
Explaining the year-long experiment Harrison said: “The Glasgow Effect is year-long action research project / durational performance, for which artist Ellie Harrison will not travel outside Greater Glasgow for a whole year (except in the event of the ill-heath / death of close relative or friend).
"By setting this one simple restriction to her current lifestyle, she intends to test the limits of a 'sustainable practice' and to challenge the demand-to-travel placed upon the 'successful' artist / academic."
The grant will go to the Duncan of Jordanstone art college in Dundee, where she works, in exchange for paid research leave.
Part of the outrage has centred on Harrison’s use of negative imagery and language to illustrate the art project’s Facebook page where an image of greasy chips – an apparent reference to the city’s unhealthy diet – has been used.
And the project’s name - The Glasgow Effect – is seen by many as a particularly loaded term which is often used to describe the poorer health and lower life expectancy of Glaswegians compared to other parts of the UK.
Laura Walsh, pointed out that being forced to stay in the city permanently was simply a fact of life for many people. “I haven’t left Glasgow in nearly four years, living on benefits and raising a child at the same time can do that to you. There have even been times I couldn’t even afford the bus to travel to the next town,” she wrote on Facebook.
Alex William McRobbie, posted: "The funding of such a project both patronises and insults the poorest living within the city of Glasgow.
"I know of several young artists who haven't left the city in the past year as a result of financial pressures."
And Amanda Cameron said: "Why not go in and around the city and ask people who actually do live, work and have generated an existence for themselves - not in the name of art, but as their actual lives?!
"It's a complete waste of money... and a slap on the face to the people living and working in Glasgow!"
Creative Scotland defended awarding funding for the widely derided project.
A spokesperson added: "Ellie's project is based on the premise that if society wishes to achieve global change, then individuals have to be more active within their communities at a local level.
"In restricting herself to staying within the city boundaries she is keen to explore what impact this will have her on her life and on her work as an artist with national and international commitments."