I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy
A Yankee Doodle, do or die.
A real live nephew of my Uncle Sam
Born on the fourth of July
Born on the fourth of July
Ring the bells, clean the streets, repair the cycle paths, paint the faded roadmarkings, put up the signs, get out the flags, rally the volunteers, blow the budgets, hang the costs, wall up the venues, invite the world (at least some of them), close off the parks, hold onto your Tunnocks and bring on the bloody games!
I won’t have a bad word said against it. I was privileged and honoured to be part of the cultural programme for the Commonwealth Games with three different pieces. I felt like the work I presented was a chance to draw together the skills, connections, collaborations and ambition that I’ve been developing since I graduated in 2001. I was able to engage with thousands of members of the public from all over the world and see the effect of my work making people feel happier and more part of the celebrations in the city. It took me back to the performance work that I remember from the Glasgow Garden Festival of 1988 and the year of culture in 1990.
We presented Everyone’s A Winner, Baby! for three days in the run-up to the Games meeting the Queen’s Baton Relay and then every day of the games we had two teams of performers seeking out people attending the sporting and cultural events and giving them their winning moment. I was able to draw together a great team of young, enthusiastic practitioners who did an amazing job of tirelessly building people up and animating the public spaces. I felt very proud to be able to pay them all well for a job well done.
I would also like to say that I was shocked and upset by the death of a colleague and very inspirational person, Ian Smith. As artistic director of Mischief La-Bas I realised that I must have been aware of his work and creations since I was a child. He gave me a job on a project when I was working at Tramway. I got to be a nun in his Peeping At Bosch show and interacted with the audience helping them to evaluate the work in a totally ingenious way. I then went onto work with Mischief and have been performing with them for the past five years or so. I doff my hat to a man who paved the way for work like Everyone’s A Winner, Baby! and inspired me to find new ways of engaging with the public. I didn’t think I’d need to take two blogs this year to talk about the devastating loss of great Glasgow-based artists, but depression is clearly a major issue in our community.
The second project of July and the Games was part of Cargo, Camera, Action for GFT and this wasn’t really such a success from my point of view, but it meant that I got to work with some different people in a new form and made me think more about how I frame my work. Basically I envisaged and then commissioned a working mutoscope – an early flipbook-style form of film worked by a handle – that could sit on the back of a Victorian bicycle. This ended up with be down be the river in a Victorian costume in the dark asking people to look into my box and turn my crank…. I think there may be another performance in this…
And the third project was The Conference Call of the Birds which I presented once during the games and then over two weekends at Forest Fringe in August. I’ve really loved this project and I’m happy how it links in with my time in Team Effort. I remember talking the project out with Gilly and maybe Fergus on the roof in the sun at the studios before putting together an application on the deadline day. Somehow most of the Rip It Up piece became infused with birds and I found different ways to deal with the possible material through that collaboration. And then Greg and I would work in the studios and try out the sounds with anyone who was around.
I definitely want to take this project further, and I think that it works really well in terms of my professional development because I can see it as a work that is confidently eclectic and working on different layers through a variety of artforms and access points. I found a way to be a lead artist working with three completely different collaborators, not to mention all the other people I had to liaise with to get the work shown. In the responses from audiences I had a chance to realize that what seems quite normal and logical to me in my work can be very surprising and enjoyably refreshing to someone outside of my brain.