‘This project gave me hope’ – Easterhouse exhibition celebrates North Glasgow lockdown art

IN the first weeks of the covid lockdown, as Glasgow navigated an uncertain and unsettling lifestyle, the first issue of Platform’s newsletter landed in mailboxes across the north east of the city.

The arts centre, based at The Bridge in Easterhouse, was looking for ways to stay in touch with locals, especially those who had little or no online access.

“Like many other places, we moved a lot of services online, but for many, such activity was not possible or not of interest,” says Matt Addicott, artistic director of Platform.

“And so we turned to the post…”

The center sent materials – wool, pens, paper, paints, sketchbooks – and stamped addressed envelopes, to encourage people to create something at home and send it.

“Providing a space where people can share and connect with each other is at the heart of what we do and so the mail art project was an attempt to fill that gap,” says Matt.

“Sometimes my apartment looked a bit like a post office with hundreds of envelopes, address labels and stamps everywhere. Although the printing, folding and mailing was a little tedious at times, receiving so many beautiful, creative and inspiring responses in the mail was well worth it. The project certainly gave me purpose and hope during the dark months of lockdown.

Glasgow Times: The exhibition will run until June 18.  Pic: EUAN ROBERTSON

Now, a collection of those responses has been curated into an exhibit, Everything Will Be Fine, which will be displayed on Platform until June 18.

The project lasted 18 months and around 250 people of all ages took part.

Nine-year-old Simmi Saini left Uganda for Glasgow with her mother Mary and two younger brothers five years ago.

“It was fun to share my work with others and see what they created, and if it was like mine or different,” she says. “I drew a lot of nature, a lot of butterflies. Now that the project is complete, I still go to Platform, to the theater on a Monday.

Glasgow Times: Kit with one of his works.  Photo: EUAN ROBERTSON

Former nurse Kit McKeown drew on her own experience for her artwork, portraying a “modern perfect nurse”.

“She has multiple arms and a bionic build to keep up with endless exhaustive demands,” says Kit, 81. “I tried to be in touch with the difficult times people had to endure during the horror and isolation of Covid.”

Glasgow Times:

A fan of Platform’s Art Factory courses, Kit had been disappointed when they moved online during lockdown. The mail art project has been a godsend, she says.

“The newsletter always arrived on a Friday – a day marked by excitement and the anticipation of a good read,” she smiles. “It heralded a joyful start to the weekend.”

As well as articles and poems – one inspired by a guided tour of the Eastern Necropolis, others by Confucius and the plight of the NHS during the pandemic – Kit has drawn beautiful works of art, full of nature, humor, history and poignant commentary on everything from modern nursing to war.

READ MORE: Glasgow memorial to Gaelic ‘Queen of Song’ restored thanks to community appeal

One of his works even arrived at the Southbank Center in London, which was also running a mail art project.

“I ended up being a poster artist exhibiting across London, Brighton, Manchester and even in a traveling exhibition across Europe,” she smiles. “I felt humbled yet excited. I guess that helped boost my confidence, because I’m not an artist.

Kit admits she was “a bit sad” when the newsletter ended after its 25th issue in late 2021.

“The good news is that face-to-face classes have resumed,” she smiles.

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