Meet the Volunteers: Emily Ilet



New volunteers recently started at Project Ability. Let us introduce you to one of them, the lovely Emily Ilet.

‘I have been volunteering with Project Ability for a few weeks now and it has been the most fantastic and inspiring experience. Every Saturday after the classes I leave with a renewed feeling of the excitement and possibilities of art and natural human interaction. The way in which the children interact with each other and the staff is wonderfully honest and open, as is their interaction and engagement with the art materials and themes explored in class. It is bewildering to see and experience the range and extent of creative production in just an hour’s class, and the sense of community and collective enthusiasm in the room is amazing. Project Ability offers a space in which the children can build confidence and express their ideas through creative activity in this warm and equal environment, and as an organisation it is inspiring in itself. Building relationships with the children has been wonderfully rewarding, and the energy in the room early on a Saturday morning is astonishing.

Since graduating in Sculpture & Environmental Art from The Glasgow School of Art in 2011 I have been involved with The Pipe Factory, an artist-led studio and exhibition space in the East End of Glasgow. As part of Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art 2012 I co-curated Ok-yuh-pahy, a two-day performance event situated across three floors of The Pipe Factory, which was one of many events organised by The Pipe Factory as part of Least Event which lasted the length of the festival. I also volunteered with The Travelling Gallery in 2012, an experience which made me want to work more with children in an artistic environment as the curiousity, questioning and forthright opinion with which the students responded to each exhibition was refreshingly uninhibited.

My artistic practice is often situated in the public realm and I am intrigued by the ways in which people encounter a work and respond to it. I work with performative gesture, drawing and writing, exploring in an absurd and poetic way attempts to engage, communicate with, and disappear into nature. I have really enjoyed volunteering at the Saturday Create classes and this has encouraged me to pursue work in art education/workshops with other organisations in the future.’

- Emily Ilett,  Saturday ‘Create’ Volunteer


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Side by Side Symposium



Project Ability attended the Side by Side Symposium at the Royal Festival Hall, in the London Southbank Centre. The event was led by Alice Fox and the Rocket Artists with participation from learning disability artists, their colleagues and support networks. The purpose of the symposium to collectively build an Inclusive Arts Manifesto and the event began with points and questions pitched to us by Sue Williams, Senior Diversity Officer, Arts Council England:

“Why is inclusive arts practice good?”
“How do we recognise the validity of that work?”
“How do we change the conditions of working together?”
“How do we stop being fixed in the same output?”

The opening address discussed achieving great art for everyone and pitched the creative case for diversity, equality and art together, side by side. Andrew Pike from KCat, Kilkenny, reinforced the point and offered us his own take on Inclusive Arts; that it should be just that, included.

“We do what we like to do, we stick our necks out…I don’t believe in pretty pictures…we’re here to shock, we’re here to make a mess.”
“Go and jump in the river if you don’t like it.”

The workshops ranged from collaborative drawing, interactive sculpture, dance, music and film. I took part in “Make Sculpture with Rocket Artists” which posed the question, “How do we want to be viewed as inclusive artists?”

We were given 4 materials to answer this question: mirror foil, pins, foam boards and space blankets. We created a reflective, mountainous landscape; we made, chatted, created headbands for each other, shared our experiences and our work. The overall shape of our sculpture disseminated through our exchanges with one another and became a vehicle to discuss the contribution to the manifesto. We talked about ‘material memory’ with the actual piece itself being a direct result of our physical interaction with the material, completely unique to time and place. We adapted the word “nebulousness” to describe the intangible nature of what we were trying to achieve and, most importantly, we were all wearing our headbands throughout the day, representing the bond that had developed between us; we were comrades working side by side.




If ‘inclusion’ is the underpinning theme of ‘Side by Side’, the venue of the Southbank Centre creates the perfect conditions to say, this work is important. The symposium itself creates a case for the commitment to doing whatever it takes to make things better for learning disability artists in society; it was noisy and they hold the power to make their voices heard.

Instead of fitting art practice (whether that is contemporary, inclusive, individual, collaborative) to a set of measurable norms, perhaps we should be excited by what is unpredictable, noisy, free and unique. Art practice is a fundamentally inter-disciplinary, reflective, instinctive process that helps us to reconsider our own reality. I think the work towards this resulting publication may not be able to quite capture the poignancy and excitement of what happened on the day, but certainly could be part of a much bigger reflection.


Alice Fox is the Artistic Director of the Rocket Artists which consists of fourteen artists, some have learning disabilities and others are lecturers/artists in the Faculty of Art at the University of Brighton. Fox's collaborative arts-based research is used to challenge social inequalities and effect positive change.
The Rocket Artist Group was established in 2002 and is based at Phoenix Artists Studios in Brighton. Learning disabled artists from the Rocket Artist group make artwork alongside students from the University of Brighton.



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‘You, Me and ASD’: opening Tuesday 02 April



Join us and the Autism Resource Centre on Tuesday 02 April in the Trongate 103 Foyer for the opening of You, Me and ASD, an exhibition of works by 40 artists with Autistic Spectrum Disorder.

The artists worked over the course of two ten-week long workshops to produce beautiful work in a variety of art forms: ceramics, painting, video, drawing or block printing. The variety of the work echoes the breadth of the Spectrum, with some works being very literal and self-reflective, whilst others show the difficulties some of the artists experience in communicating with the world.

The exhibition opening coincides with World Autism Awareness Day 2013, and will take place on Tuesday 2nd April from 1pm to 2pm.

There will be a second opening on Thursday 04 April, 6pm-8pm.

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Join us this Saturday and create your own Fancy Cards!



The theme of this month’s Friends and Family Fun Workshop is Fancy Cards. Join us this Saturday and create your own fabulously fancy cards for Easter, or any other occasion. Use collage and drawing to construct exciting imagery or make your designs jump out of the page with a fun pop-up card!

These classes provide the opportunity for young people with disabilities and their friends and families to participate in an exciting programme of visual arts activities. What's more you can take away a goody bag of ideas and materials to help you continue structured arts activities at home.

All young people must be accompanied by an adult.

Date- Saturday 23rd March 2013

Time- 11:00-12:30 and 1:30-3:00

Cost- Free

These workshops are free but booking is essential. Please contact us on 0141 552 2822 to secure your place.

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Project Ability are pleased to announce the artists selected for the Residency Programme 2013




Project Ability are pleased to announce the artists selected for the Residency Programme 2013 are Ruth Ansell, Lea Cummings, Lorraine Hamilton, Nicola Henderson, Genevieve Kay-Gourlay and Jordan Kay and Linda Mahoney. Now in its fourth year, the residency is an initiative to support artists to develop their practice within a disability arts setting where artists are resident in Project Ability’s open studio for a short and intense working period of one month. The artists are provided with studio space, materials and professional development opportunities within the Project Ability community.

Ruth Ansell (May) is a textile designer and craft practitioner. She will use the residency to develop her techniques in photography, ink chromatography and light reflections applied to textile design. The residency will be focused on her interest in colour and textile recycling as well as sharing her extensive skill range with others.

Lorraine Hamilton (June) is a sculptor whose practice encompasses visual spectacle and tactility. During the residency she will undertake a sculptural exploration of the senses expanding on her interest in shared experience through art.

Genevieve Kay-Gourlay and Jordan Kay (July) are a sister and brother collaborative duo; they will use the residency as a context to explore their relationship as siblings and collaborators in an experimental idea exchange and coming together of two individual practices.

Lea Cummings (August) is an artist and musician who takes part in Project Ability’s ReConnect programme. Working in a wide range of practices including sound, performance, painting, animation and film, Lea will use the residency as a space for experimentation and exploration of maximalist pattern and colour.

Nicola Henderson (September) is a ceramist and aims to use the residency to experiment further with metamorphic open bowl forms, volcanic glazes as well as an investigation into the crossover between organic and decorative vessels with an in depth investigation into form.

Linda Mahoney (October) will use the residency to undertake a period of extensive research examining existential philosophical ideas about the construction of ‘self’ and the contemporary meaning of ‘self’ in the context of society constructs.

The artists will be exhibiting their new work in an exhibition at Project Ability Gallery in January 2014.


Image: Fraser Ross's Lab during his August residency

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Side by Side opening in London



On Friday 15th March artist Tommy Mason attended the opening of Side by Side at the Spirit Level gallery at the Royal Festival Hall, London.

Tommy had two related drawings of men and horses selected for this exhibition which presented work by 150 artists from 30 international arts organisations.

“We travelled by train arriving at Euston Station at 3 o’clock. We took a taxi to our hotel, unpacked, relaxed and then went for tea before going to the exhibition opening.
We didn’t meet any of the other artists but there had been an opening earlier that afternoon which they might have attended. The gallery was long and bright and the work well balanced and attractive. During the opening there was a performance by The Rocket Artists (the exhibition curators) and Corali Dance Company.
At the opening we met up with Beth Forde an artist who worked with Project Ability before moving to London a couple of years ago. Afterwards we went for dinner, then back to the hotel for an early night. We left London the next day." 

-Tommy Mason, artist



“The gallery was hung with over 200 artworks including installation work, sculpture, video, drawings, paintings and textiles. We recognised several of the artists, and organisations, as over the years we have worked together and they have contributed to our exhibition and events programme.
There is a long tradition of juried exhibitions presenting work by learning disabled artists and Side by Side is one of the more ambitious and attractive that I have seen. A clean gallery, work well presented, good lighting and the work speaking for itself rather than through the artists’ “story ”. But there are artists whose work, because of its quality, appears again and again in these exhibitions and is now the time to challenge the “salon-type” exhibition and should we be curating the work in a new way?”

-Elisabeth Gibson, Executive Artistic Director


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Lesley Nimmo, Ourang-outang- Artwork of the Week #05

This week's 'Artwork of the Week' is this wonderful acrylic painting of a bright, smiley Orangutan (or Ourang-Outang) by one of our Aspire artists Lesley Nimmo. We thought this piece would cheer everyone up on this dreary afternoon and help you all get set for weekend.

The painting features thick applications of paint which are constructed by solid, single brush strokes of bright orange, red and brown, drawing attention to the power of colour.

This piece and lots more of Lesley's artwork is available to purchase now on Culture Label.



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The Lennox Castle Stories group are back!



We are delivering four more visual arts workshops leading up to the launch of a website on the 17th April.



The website will tell the story of Lennox Castle Hospital through the words and pictures of people who were residents in the “Castle”.  The group will be making new work which celebrates their achievements since leaving the “Castle”.



Save the date! Website launch, 17th April, 2 – 4pm at Project Ability.



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Lennox Castle Stories


The Lennox Castle Stories website launch appeared in The Kikintilloch Herald this week, with news on the event at Glasgow City Chambers.

To read the article online click here and to go direct to the Lennox Castle Stories website go to


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Duncan Gray, Himalayas- Artwork of the Week #04


This beautiful acrylic painting of 'The Himalayas' by Duncan Gray, is this week's 'Artwork of The Week', inspired by our current exhibition, Big Skies, which features more of Duncan's work.

We think you will agree that Duncan's painting depicts wonderfully the vastness of the landscape, and captures the imagination with thoughts of the sparkling white, ice capped mountains stretching up into a mass of deep, dark skies.

Duncan's newest works can be viewed in Big Skies at our gallery in Trongate103 until 20th April 2013.

The Himalayas and a few of Duncan's other pieces are also currently available to buy on Culture Label.



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Big Skies Opening

The exhibition Big Skies which opened last night, is dedicated to the memory of artist Fletcher Stobbs.

Fletcher Stobbs (1940-2012) was a regular participant in our workshop for over fifteen years. We were saddened to learn at the end of last year, that after a short illness Fletcher passed away. Over the years, Fletcher turned his hand to many artistic processes, but most enjoyed expressing himself through his paintings and ceramics.

Storm at Sea: the magnificent painting shown in this exhibition was one of his last pieces.

Fletcher was a kind man, always ready with a smile and always with a twinkle in his eye.


Gallery view


Artist, Tommy Kemp (with his family)


Artist Hanne Arnheim travelled from Bergan in Norway to see her work, La Tempesta, in the gallery



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Big Skies Wide Open!

Join us tomorrow night for the opening of Big Skies! An artistic exploration and celebration of weather, showing work by Project Ability artists alongside artists from Finland, Norway and Sweden. As we are putting the finishing touches to the install, 'Fly Baby' by Tommy Kemp gives a taster of the individual and fantastical works on show.

Opens 6-8pm, Project Ability Gallery and the exhibition continues until 20 April. 


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Big Skies and First Thursday!

This Thursday 7th March 2013 is another First Thursday here at Trongate103, and the opening preview of Project Ability’s new exhibition ‘Big Skies’. Our gallery on the first floor of Trongate103 will be open from 6pm till 8pm on Thursday evening for a first look at this wonderfully eclectic show of new work.

Big Skies is a Scandinavian exchange showing works by artists from Finland, Norway and Sweden, alongside a selection of Project Ability artists. It is an artistic exploration and celebration of weather; its changeable nature, our fascination with it and its sometime mystic and sublime beauty. 

Exhibiting artists are Hanne Arnheim from Amalie Skrams Hus, Norway; Buster HollingworthCamilla Holmquist and Jens Nilsson from Inuti, Sweden; Harri Blomberg from Kettuki, Finland; Tommy KempDuncan Gray and Fletcher Stobbs from Project Ability. 

Image credit: Untitled, acrylic and charcoal on canvas by Fletcher Stobbs 

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We have uploaded ten new films to Project Ability’s You Tube account.  Made by our talented young film makers the films are outstanding.  They are original; fresh, funny, charming and clever.  Pauline Jackson’s Shine Like a Diamond will make you smile, wonder at part 1. of A Reindeers’ Tale by Ian Bruin.  Follow the twists and turns of Sam McIlmunn’s film noir A Mistake Somewhere.  Long, short, complex, experimental there is a film for everyone.

Several of the film makers are at college or applying to college to study aspects of film production such as animation, graphics, model making.  We wish them well in their studies and are proud of the part we have in building their career.

Our thanks to the project funder - Cashback for Communities and the efforts of our fundraisers who in 2012 secured over £10,000.00 to replace our worn out film equipment with state of the art HD technology.

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Artwork of the Week

This week's Artwork of the Week is this wonderful oil painting by one of our ReConnect artists and past artist in residence, Simon McAuley.

 ‘I make semi-abstract monochrome drawings made of small drawn organic marks and lines. They often have a partial landscape motif. Each drawing is built up and evolves over time; while remembering the influence of the first generative marks. (The marks are inflected by the previous.)'

This piece 'Untitled' 2012, features in our current exhibition, Artists in Residence 2012 in our gallery at Trongate103, and is also now available to buy on Culture Label. The exhibition closes tomorrow at 5pm, so if you love Simon's work as much as we do make sure you don't miss it!



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