Aqsa Arif (Painting and Printmaking 2019)

Job Title:

Co-Founder of Salt Space Cooperative


Painting & Printmaking


SaltSpace Cooperative
image courtesy of Aqsa Arif

SaltSpace Cooperative


Aqsa Arif

Interview originally produced for FLOW issue 23

How have you found life after graduation?
Since graduating last year, I have had a really positive and productive journey. It can be difficult sometimes to find that self-motivation to keep working and being creative but through working on SaltSpace Co-operative, I have been provided with a worthwhile goal and that has kept me moving.

Can you tell us a bit about your practice and how it developed?
My practice is heavily inspired by the cinema space and developed as a result of my love for filmmaking. My work explores the surreal nature of the human psyche situated within the cinematic medium. I explore these themes through the construction of installations and multimedia spaces which activate the imagination of the viewers and places them within the work – exploring the constant interplay between the viewer and its subject.

What were the aims and motivation behind setting up SaltSpace?
SaltSpace is a creative co-operative set up by students and graduates of the GSA who took part in the Enterprise Studio Summer School in 2018. Our aim is to support emerging artists and new graduates to make, sell, exhibit and create new work as a stepping-stone into their artistic career. We set it up because we noticed that there was not enough support for emerging artists, especially when they first graduate. We understood the anxieties of leaving the comfort of a creative institution and wanted to create something that could alleviate and smooth that transition.

Why did you decide to set up SaltSpace in Glasgow and what do you hope it can bring to the community?
Our aim was to create a hub within Glasgow where artists could gain a community of supportive artists as well as a place where they could share their skills, create, sell and exhibit their work, and collaborate with one another as well as our local community. We were offered the three locations of SaltSpace through the Meanwhile Spaces initiative from City Property – we wanted to support graduates from the GSA and so the Trongate area was an ideal place to host this idea.

In what ways can an artistic community support each other over the coming months?
With people self-isolating, it is important that we keep vibrancy and creativity alive through the means of the internet and the amazing technology available to us at this time. We can support each other by keeping our online interaction active and a part of our daily lives, extending support and inspiration to our extended creative network. Collaborating with others online, in new imaginative ways, is something we are trying to do at SaltSpace. It is a great way to keep the motivation going as we work best when we are being supported by others.

How have you and the SaltSpace Collective adapted to the current situation (Covid-19)?
At SaltSpace we are currently adapting to the coronavirus situation and working on various ways to continue to support our members through this difficult period. We are working on updating our website to create a weekly blog in which we invite our members to contribute their creative skills as well as making it more interactive. We have already converted our social media platform to support our members by highlighting a different member and their artwork to help promote them. In the next few weeks, we are also trying to figure out a way to support fourth year students at the GSA as well as figuring out other ways in which we can support emerging artists in Glasgow.

What are your ambitions for the future of SaltSpace?
Our ambition is to expand our membership so that all students and graduates of the GSA that are still living in Glasgow become members at SaltSpace. We want to increase the opportunities we can offer for our members, and we will do this through applying for further grants, collaborating with other creative institutions and expanding our network in Scotland. We want SaltSpace to be a hub in Glasgow for supportive engagement, creative education and exhibition and community building for our members and our local community.