Aleksandra Mir

Drug hangout set for art revamp

Sunday Herald, Glasgow, Aug 2001
By Juliette Garside

An art collective will this week unveil their conversion plans for a former drugs blackspot in the heart of Glasgow's Gorbals.

They will include a meadow on the banks of the Clyde, a sculpture of Gorbals woman, and mechanical birds which will hang over doorways.

The work by Heisenberg, the Glasgow-based public art collective responsible for dotting orange Journeymen around the city during the 1999 Year of Architecture, is part of the second phase of the Gorbals regeneration, which centres around Queen Elizabeth square.

New York artist Aleksandra Mir will create the meadow on the banks of the Clyde. Due to be completed in 2003/2004, it will be built by local people on derelict land between the King's Bridge and the Suspension Bridge.

Heisenberg and the artists they have commissioned will display their plans for the area at an exhibition at Glasgow's Lighthouse design centre next weekend.

Heisenberg, a partnership between sculptor Matt Baker and photographer Dan Dubowitz, will display photographs of the last hours of the Queen Elizabeth shopping arcade, a film of interviews with local people, and square samples of material taken from the abandoned shops and flats.

Dubowitz' photographs of the shopping arcade include the space on the wall of the The Queen's Bar where the dartboard used to be, the draw where the landlord kept his takings, the ransacked bookmakers and the paraphernalia left behind by junkies in the abandoned post office.

Pieces by Ken Hunter, Amanda Currie and David Ralston are due to be completed by late summer 2002. Hunter will make a sculpture of a woman. 'There's not many women represented in sculptures around Glasgow, apart from Queen Victoria,' he said. 'And there are very few sculptures of women that aren't allegorical, they tend to represent justice, or war. In this case I didn't want it to look like an allegory.'

Ralston will create mechanical birds to hang above doorways. They will make movements triggered by changes such as night and day, and may generate numbers which can be used for national lottery tickets, for example.

Currie has been attending meetings with residents to devise a ritual for the rebuilt neighbourhood. Her idea is that each year residents will crown a new 'king'. Criteria for winning the crown have yet to be decided, but it could for example go to the biggest fool or the creator of the best idea. She will build a throne with a plaque for engraving the names of each 'king'.