Saturday, July 1, 2017

Project Ability

Daniel Mui - Gravity
Gravity, by Daniel Mui

Many of you won’t have heard of Project Ability (est. 1984). We are a Glasgow, Scotland-based visual arts organization creating opportunities for people with disabilities and people with mental health issues, ages 5 to 80+, to express themselves and achieve artistic excellence.  Our Create program engages with 5- to 28-year-olds in a range of creative activities including visual arts, film and new media. We offer printmaking, painting, drawing, ceramics, textiles and more in our studios.
Jack Hynes - Untitled
Untitled, by Jack
All activities are fully inclusive. The professional artists who deliver the program are highly experienced in working with young people with a wide range of support needs.  Project Ability has a gallery two floors down from the studios, where we put on up to 12 exhibitions a year. Several more exhibitions are held in Glasgow, other parts of the U.K. and beyond.  Often parents will stay for workshops, helping their children alongside the artists and tutors. The tutors are all trained artists, and all have extensive experience working with young people with additional-support needs. The environment during our workshops is one of joy and creativity. It can get quite loud, so we have areas that are quieter for those artists who prefer to stay away from all the noise.

Gabriel and his mother, working together
 “Art is not for one ‘individual’. It is for everyone," says Cameron, one of our artists. "Anybody can do it. It’s all about pushing yourself – going over the so-called ‘boundaries’ and exploring your inner capabilities.” 
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Line T2 On West Highland Way, by Cameron Black
"It's been too much fun hanging out with these kids and seeing their ideas come to life," volunteer Seamus Killick wrote about his experiences in the workshops. "It kind of reminds me why I got so into this art stuff back in school - it's a chance to share your private world with others. To become an explorer not only in your own imagination but to pick other people’s brains too. The to-and-fro of idle chit chat is wonderful brain food for me, especially the frankness of children which can be hilarious."
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We typically offer a ratio of one artist to four young people. Creating a fully inclusive environment is important to us, and siblings and friends are welcome to attend our classes. Our in-house program is delivered from our fully accessible and specially equipped Trongate 103 workshops and from our outreach program at venues nationwide. 

Without the tutors’ expertise the workshops wouldn’t be as successful as they are. We are proud to have an amazing team of professional artists working with us. They share their creativity with the young people and help to increase the confidence and skills of each of our young participants. 

"Our young artists are always willing to embrace new artistic challenges and are excited about trying out all of the materials that our studios offer too," according to one tutor, Tracy. "As tutors, we learn a lot from how our young artists approach their art making too, with their lack of inhibition and freedom, come some incredible results.

Dominic Hemphill-Whyte - Untitled 2
Untitled, by Dominique

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Untitled, by Greg

Work in Progress, by Lauren

Obi working on "Car and Birds"

We have some young artists that have complex support needs, and Project Ability is one of the few places where they can come and express themselves. Some of our projects are designed specifically with those artists in mind.

Create Workshop 4
Guy working with a super long brush on this large scale painting
The finished work from one such program, ‘Found Impressions’went on to be exhibited in two galleries, including ours. Artists Guy and Gabriel have been with us for quite a while now. Their parents always join in the workshops, and our Saturdays wouldn’t be nearly as enjoyable without them. 

Young Talent Exhibition
Collage mixed media piece in progress by Aidan

IMG_7492Every summer our gallery puts on a ‘Young Talent’ exhibit. This year's is on July 8. Every young person that works with us is encouraged to submit a piece. 

Young Talent is now in its 8th year and has become a highlight of the calendar.  A reception is held at the start of the exhibition for all our young artists, their families and support workers. Children run around proudly showing off their masterpieces to friends and strangers alike. For the most part, the young people really love to see their work on display, and you can feel the happiness and excitement buzzing around the space. 
Young Talent is one of my favorite shows of the year.  It covers so many styles and mediums. With dozens of artists, the show covers a lot of ground. There's no set theme because we don’t want any barriers to participation. 

Create Workshop 8
Super Pink Abstract
Young Talent 2017 promises to be as varied as the ages and interests of the artists. There are plenty of TV- and movie-themed works, including the Smurfs, Dr Strange, The Simpsons, Adventure Time, Godzilla, R2D2, Pocahontas and the Muppets!

Owen Scullion - Godzilla (2)
Godzilla, by Owen

Ruth - Pikachu
Pikachu, by Ruth
Not all our artists want to exhibit their creations. Some choose to take their works home to hang on a bedroom wall or give away as a gift. Others may not want anyone to see their work and find a secret space where it will be safe and unseen. Some lose interest in the work once it's finished. Anything goes. Whatever the children make is theirs, and if they sell it they get a commission of 50%-60%. Project Ability keeps the rest. 

Being able to help encourage and empower others to enhance their quality of life through the act of making art and being creative is what Project Ability is all about. 

Ross Agnew - Untitled
Untitled, by Ross

Please visit our website and/or follow us on Facebook and Instagram if you’d like to learn more about the work we do!

Text by Heather Lander, Exhibitions Coordinator at Project Ability

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