Glasgow Open House Art Festival

The Aspire artists have been involved in making flags that will indicate the key locations during this year's Glasgow Open House Art Festival. The Friday group were delighted to be able to work with artist collective COLOUR HOTEL during a series of workshops, and these stunning flags were the result. 

Glasgow Open House is an artist-led, not-for-profit organisation that was founded by Glasgow School of Art alumna Amalie Silvani-Jones in 2013. This year's festival is shaping up to be fantastic, with a huge and diverse range of works to see and hear. The festival will take place between the 2nd and the 4th of May, with numerous venues hosting exhibitions, as well as the intriguing inclusion of Art Walks which will offer a truly immersive experience of the festival. 

Click here to download a programme.

Share This

ReConnect 16-19 - Collagraphy

The ReConnect 16-19 workshops are the perfect place for young people with mental ill-health to learn new skills and try new techniques.

One of our young artists tried her hand at collagraphy, a printmaking process in which materials are applied to a board, inked  and printed onto paper using a printing press. 

If you would like to take part in our free ReConnect 16-19 visual arts workshops, please get in touch at 0141 552 2822.

Share This

Meet the Volunteers - Emma Aitken

Emma Aitken, a recent GSA graduate, has been volunteering with our Create Saturday Visual Arts Classes for the last few months. We are delighted to have her, and our other volunteers, back for this new block of workshops!

"I am currently volunteering with Project Ability in the Saturday Create classes. I have found the workshops to be far more fun than I ever imagined and look forward to seeing the participants each week. It is refreshing to see the children and young adults' enthusiasm to make work, and their dedication in persisting with projects.

Since graduating last year from Painting and Printmaking at the Glasgow School of Art, I have found myself in a typical post graduate slump.  However these classes have been invaluable in teaching me the importance art can have out with an art school. Their freedom and expression has reminded me of the possibilities of approaches in making work. It is rewarding to think of my skills as having a positive impact on others, and I hope they have enjoyed having me as a volunteer as much as I have enjoyed being one!"

Thank you Emma!

Share This

Launch of the ReConnect website

Last Thursday, tutor Joanna Peace and the ReConnect artists launched the ReConnect website, showcasing artworks and texts. Artist and photographer Simon McAuley has been very involved with the project, and we asked him to give us an insight on his experience.

"Working on the new Reconnect website has been such a great experience. Over the period of a few months we have learnt so much. Setting up artists' pages with photographic images of the work, involved documenting, uploading editing and formatting. It wasn’t all paintings and drawings. There was a real mix of mediums and documenting methods, from straight forward, with an emphasis on high quality, sharp and neutral documentation; to more experimental, creative contextualising. Editing was kept to a minimum and applied equally across all, to maintain consistency.

I learnt a lot as the official photographer. Using different methods and working with mediums such as sculpture and jewellery for the first time. It was great to see the finished images uploaded into the new website.
Quite a bit of time was dedicated to understanding the website template and learning how to create pages, portfolios, and blog entries. As time passed the website began to grow, and more and more artists brought work to be documented. It was great to see artists in the studio bringing work from home, which had previously been private, now getting exposure. Sometimes the work being documented threw up challenges. After a straight forward approach, created images which were somewhat lacking, a more experimental process began. Showing the work in a new light, from a fresh perspective and creating images as part of a more collaborative effort."

-Simon McAuley

Many thanks to everybody who attended the event, and to Joanna for the cake!

Share This

Artwork of the Week - ‘That’s a Bird’ by Rehan Yousuf

This week’s Artwork of the Week is Rehan Yousuf’s ‘That’s a Bird’.

A truly striking and energetic piece, Rehan’s expressive use of a web of interweaving lines creates a work in which both the abstract and the figurative can exist simultaneously.

A selection of Rehan’s work in on display now in our gallery, until the 2nd of May as part of our Solo Showcase series. Come and see it!

Share This

Walking Group - Week 8: Queens Cross Church

The Walking Group took a trip to Maryhill to visit Queens Cross Church designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

One of the tour guides was expecting the group and gave an interesting overview of the history of the building before letting them loose to explore and take some photographs.

After a good look around the group went out into the sunshine and had a walk along the canal footpath to visit another Charles Rennie Mackintosh building, the Ruchill Church Community Hall.

Unfortunately this was not open but the group were able to admire and photograph the exterior of the building and decided it would be worth a return visit to see inside sometime in the future.

Share This

‘Toot my own cloud’ and the young ReConnect workshop

The young ReConnect workshops are now in their last block, and the artists are making work towards an exhibition taking place this summer.

"These are some images of Andrew's work in progress, with a working title of ‘ Toot my own Cloud’. Using his interest in boats as inspiration, Andrew has created a mixed media piece involving paper mache, modeling wire, thread, and now card and paint as we expand into some set design.
Working closely with the Reconnect tutors Andrew has involved a great variety of processes. As he says, ‘making the most of Susan and Iona’s know how’ and trying new things is one of the best parts of the class."

If you would like to join the free workshops, please get in touch at 0141 552 2822.

Share This

Meet the Volunteers - Sarah Laing

This week, we would like to introduce you to Sarah Laing, who has been volunteering with our Create Saturday Classes.

"I decided to volunteer with Project Ability after hearing about it from friends who had worked there. They had developed a great attachment and loyalty to the organisation, and it had made a real impact on their own art practice.

I graduated from Art School 9 years ago, but recently took a break from art-making, feeling dissatisfied. At Project Ability, I have connected with a completely different artistic community than I have previously worked with. It is a community that provides motivation and inspiration to broaden my own practice, and where I can encourage expression and creative communication from others.

Project Ability provides an array of excellent facilities under one roof that would be difficult to find elsewhere. These allow people to explore art in many different ways. Participants are encouraged to work freely and I have especially enjoyed the times when someone creates something that is outside of what they imagined they would be able to achieve. Within the space, art introduces cultural dialogue and is a means to express personal interests and develop social skills. The sessions can feel much shorter than they are. Some weeks, there has been less reason to participate in object making as there has to become involved in whatever conversation is happening. Other days I have found myself silently engrossed in a group project or being an artist assistant.

Through volunteering and collaboration, I can use art-making as an entry point into learning about a wide scope of external subjects which can, in turn, reinforce and influence my art work. I work flexible hours, giving me long periods of available time in between periods of work. I find real value in spending this time working directly with others and volunteering for an organisation whose main concern is cultivating an inclusive art making community and enhancing creative awareness."

Many thanks Sarah!

Share This

Artwork of the Week - ‘Untitled’, pen & ink on paper by Tommy Kemp

This week, we are very pleased to bring you this pen & ink drawing by Aspire artist Tommy Kemp. 

Tommy’s drawings are unique, with their complex compositions and network of lines and shapes, suggesting that the act of drawing determines the work for the artist rather than a straightforward reflection of his subject.

Share This

Meet the Volunteers - Nancy Haslam-Chance

The next block of workshops will start in a few weeks, and our amazing volunteers will be back in the studios! Nancy Haslam-Chance is one of the recent art graduates who joined the Project Ability community earlier this year, and she has been a wonderful addition to our Create workshops. Here she tells us more about her practice and her experience with us.

 "I graduated last year from the Glasgow School of Art with a degree in Communication Design, specialising in Illustration. Since then I have enjoyed having the time to balance my own practice as an artist with volunteering. I have been working with young people on Saturdays at Project Ability and it has been fantastic learning about each of their individual personalities and interests through collaborative approaches to making art.

My own work at the moment is about playgrounds and the importance of children’s play in inner cities and post-industrial landscapes. I am interested in how we can use our cities and towns in more playful ways. I enjoy combining drawings done on location, with drawings from memory and imagination, and blurring the line between what could be real and what is purely fantastical.

I have been impressed at how the young people are so playful about creating art. They take risks, turning accidental marks into decisive ones and aren’t scared of working on large scales or experimenting with different materials. They are decisive, wasting no time. In one hour blank canvases are transformed into pieces of fearless and amazing art. The young people are proud of their creations, leaving the studios feeling happy and empowered. I have learnt so much from them, and when I sit down at my desk to draw or open my sketchbook I feel less anxious and self-conscious, and more spontaneous and curious!

I look forward to the next block of sessions."

Thanks Nancy!

Share This

Summerhouse residency

Earlier this month, Celine Mcilmunn and Simon McAuley were resident artists for five days based in the summerhouse within Gartnavel Royal grounds. "The summerhouse and grounds were the perfect location for a residency", said Simon. "Last week was pretty cold but our base was nice and warm. Our main activity was photographic, using the location as a resource. A rather quiet place, conducive for some quiet picture making. We both fell into a rhythm spontaneously and started to bounce ideas around. I really enjoyed the residency and learnt a lot about Celine's practice and my own."

Celine said "What a great experience! I loved having a full week to just concentrate on making artwork and the environment in and around the summerhouse was ideal for this. Simon and I both spent a fair bit of time outdoors and although the weather was pretty awful for most of the time, that turned out to be a major influence on the work we made so it was all good. It was lovely to discover the similarities between the work we made and great fun putting the exhibition together. A big thanks to Fiona and the other staff who made us so welcome and made sure we had everything we needed."

The artists gave a talk about their residency on Friday 10 April, and will show their work in our ReSearch Space from Thursday 07 May, 6pm-8pm.

Share This

Sir Robert McAlpine donate £1000 to Project Ability

On Friday 13th March we were delighted to receive a £1000 cheque, donated by contractors and employees at Sir Robert McAlpine’s Riverside Campus building site. 

On this occasion Project Ability was their nominated local charity. The donation boosted our fundraising total for the 2014/15 fiscal year to over £12,000.00.

Thank you Sir Robert McAlpine!

Share This

An update on the ReConnect Website Project

Tutor Joanna Peace has been working with our ReConnect artists for the last few months on a brand new website. With the launch fast approaching, we asked Joanna to let us know more about the project.

"The new ReConnect website launches on 23rd April, and since first meeting the group in December 2014 time has flown as we have developed the site together. In those early meetings we thought hard about what the website could be – it could show their work to a wider audience of course, but could it also become an archive, a platform for discussion and reflection, a means to developing new work?

Over the past three months the website project has enabled all of those things, thanks to the hard work and enthusiasm of the ReConnect artists. Artists have been writing about their experiences at workshops and other events on the blog, as well as posting up the artist videos shown at our new regular lunchtime film sessions. The project has been an impetus to re-discover old work, and so artists have been opening dusty boxes and dragging in folders from home stuffed with paintings, drawings and sculptures that are now documented properly and have a place on the website.

It’s easy to forget all the work you’ve done in the past, and looking back, it seems, can re-invigorate your art practice in the present, as some artists have re-imagined older pieces in new ways for the camera. On the technology side, artists have tackled the DSLR camera and tripod in our makeshift photography studio to document their work, and had a go at using Photoshop and Wordpress.

This project follows hot on the heels of the first ever ReConnect publication, a beautiful book featuring work and words by the group. I hope this site can become both a live version of that publication and a space for sharing creative discoveries, and by doing so showcase the fantastic work and activities by individuals and the group as a whole. Keep your eyes peeled on 23rd April!"

Share This

Walking Group - Week 7: Gartnavel grounds

The grounds of Gartnavel Royal Hospital was the destination for our walking group last week. There were two main reasons for this: firstly, the gardens there are beautiful and secondly Celine Mcilmunn and Simon McAuley were there working on a short residency project so it was a good opportunity to visit them and see what they were doing.

After meeting up with Celine and Simon and paying a short visit to the Summerhouse where they were based the group had a walk around the nearby walled garden and then to the pond near Great Western Road where there was a variety of ducks and swans waiting to be photographed!

More photos on our Facebook profile. 

Share This

Tanya Raabe in residency - Week 5

Tanya Raabe spent five weeks in residency in our studios, and quickly became an integral part of the Project Ability family.  It was a pleasure to see the artist at work, before, during and after the Summit, and to see her monumental triptych take shape and evolve. The piece is not only a striking artwork, but also a testimony of her time spent both as an observer and an active participant in the Summit. The work produced during the residency will be on show in our gallery in January next year, and Tanya will be back in September for a week. 

My last week in residency with Project Ability has come round so quickly and people are asking me how much longer am I going to be here and when I say I'll be going on Friday there's an almighty gasp as we talk about whether I'll finish the triptych panoramic painting off in time!

It’s a race against time without comprise to the painting.

Firstly I wanted to pull all three paintings together and to give them a commonality in their look. So I approached colour combinations and brush strokes in a similar way over all three canvases. This helps to create colour and painting relationships between all three paintings.

I needed to portray each and every person represented in the paintings as complete individuals, highlighting their uniqueness, identity, physicality and their artistry. I used colour, paint texture and line to define their faces as they themselves painted, made their art and joined in conversations about wanting their art to be exhibited and showcased in mainstream art galleries.

During my last week it was very quiet in the studio as there were no Aspire artists making their work. This was quite strange because when everyone was in, I have felt myself being influence in my painting by the many ways different Aspire artists make their work. I listened intently and subconsciously too to the conversations and artistic exchanges that the artists had amongst themselves and with the tutors about what they were making their art about. This also influenced me as I painted away.

But despite being in a quiet studio and missing the sounds, this gave me the opportunity to really get stuck in and I was able to paint fast and furious and to be absorbed by the painting over the last few days.

I can honestly say this has been one of the best times of my life as an artist. I feel very privileged to have been able to paint portraits of some of the Aspire artists and the Summit artists and make my art in the Project Ability Art Studio with such accomplished and talented learning disabled artists.

As an associate artist of Project Ability I shall be back! There are so many more faces to paint and moments of artistry to capture that I'm sure that my paint brush won't be still for long!

As I haven't quite finished my triptych panoramic painting, I shall be back in September for a week to add some final touches.

In the meantime I have recorded many short time lapse films of the making of the triptych which I shall post up on my YouTube so watch out for them.

I hope you all will carry on watching, liking and commenting on my new projects coming up on my Facebook and Twitter.

I'd like to thank everyone at Project Ability for your support during my Residency.

Special Thanks to:

Lorraine as my PA, access and archivist
Celine as assistance and documentary photography during the International Learning Disability Arts Summit
The International visitors who sat for their portraits including Vinnie and Ramona from Atelier 5, Declan from KCAT and many more.
Other sitters who sat for me at the Summit Event
Cameron, Jonathan and Steven Aspire Artists who drew my portrait and critiqued insightfully on my paintings on several occasions which inspired and influence the making of the summit triptych
Aspire artists who I portrayed during week 1 of my residency as they worked on their own work

Last but not least a big thanks to everyone who made it on to my final triptych #summitPortrayed painting.

Share This

On the Road workshops: Milngavie

Our On The Road workshops brought us to a primary school in Milngavie, where tutor Susan and artist Doreen delivered a bookmaking workshop to a group run by Enable who meet each week for different social activities.

The bookmaking workshops encouraged the participants to create personal concertina books that were made through collage with fabric, paper and photo images.

If you would like Project Ability to deliver a free workshop to your club or group (in Scotland), please get in touch: 0141 552 2822 or

Share This