What We Have Done, What We Are About To Do, exhibition view, 2012

What We Have Done, What We Are About To Do, exhibition view, 2012

The Glasgow Miracle: Materials Towards Alternative Histories >

Research Theme:
Contemporary Art & Curating

Research Staff:
Francis McKee
Ross Sinclair
Carrie Skinner
Susannah Waters

Research Partners:
Centre for Contemporary Arts

Arts & Humanities Research Council

This major AHRC-funded project is a collaboration between CCA Glasgow and the Glasgow School of Art. It will make accessible the materials needed for study of the Glasgow art scene over the past 40 years in order to further the academic understanding of the city’s art infrastructure at a crucial time and to engage the public in the recent history of the city’s creative community.

Prior to the 1970s, the gravitational pull of London and the absence of a local support structure meant that a successful art career generally entailed leaving Glasgow. From the 1970s onwards this began to change with the establishment of Third Eye Centre, Glasgow Print Studio and Wasps Artists Studios. By the 1990s Glasgow was able to retain its artists and attract others too, and today there are several generations of internationally recognised artists in the city – the first time there has been a community with such depth.

This project has curated a fully indexed archive of all exhibitions and events in Scottish Arts Council Gallery, Third Eye Centre and CCA from 1973 to the present. This information is available in searchable online databases and is now open to all scholars and members of the public in a newly created archive room at CCA. The project’s website also presents full timelines of all exhibitions and events in the three organisations from 1973 to the present, artist to artist interviews conducted by GSA artist Ross Sinclair, 150 newly digitised films from the 1970s, and sample images and recordings from the last 40 years. In September 2012, CCA mounted an exhibition, What We Have Done, What We Are About To Do, which presented some sample archive material, all of the 150 newly digitised films and a series of commissioned works by contemporary artists responding to the archive. A further exhibition in February 2014, Speaking in Tongues, presented new work by artists Pavel Buchler, Susan Hiller and Sonia Boyce who had been active in The Third Eye in the 1980s. A symposium in collaboration with the Art Libraries Society (ARLIS), held at White Gallery in London took the archive project to a wider audience beyond Glasgow. The symposium was well attended by artists, gallerists and archivists and the event itself will be available on the archive’s website.

The project has been led by Francis McKee, Director of the CCA and tutor and research fellow at Glasgow School of Art. CCA has a well-established commitment to curatorial development, offering at times curatorial fellowships, placement opportunities and professional curatorial mentoring for emerging practitioners.