Exploring the history of creative spaces in Dundee
We're looking back at some of the collective creative spaces that have existed in Dundee and the reasons why they had to close. We'll also be speaking to David Cook consultant on the West Ward Works project to get an insight into why the development was unable to get off the ground.
First we speak to Joanna Helfer who was one of the founding members of Tin Roof Collective. In 2011 they took on part of the old foundry building in the Blackness area of Dundee at a time when affordable studio space was virtually non-existent and the council didn't believe it was possible for artists to thrive outside cities like Glasgow or London.
After having over 100 artists through their doors and many exhibitions and gigs in the space, Tin Roof sadly had to move out of the building in June 2016. 71 Brewing were moving in to the downstairs space and building regulations visited giving Tin Roof an ultimatum of finding £100,000 within six weeks to make upgrades or leave the building. Although this was the end of the large collective space Tin Roof does live on in two smaller WASPs spaces and the ceramics workshop in Dundee. We'll also come back to more creative use plans for the Blackness foundry in a later episode.
In 2011 Lyall and Donna Holford-Lovell saw the need for a desk based collective space that also acted as an agency bringing in projects for the members to work on. Over time membership grew and Fleet supported the development of the city of culture bid and V&A to Dundee. Over time Lyall stepped down as director to focus on design work and Donna became much more involved in NEoN Digital Arts Festival. There just wasn't the resource to help fill desks, run marketing campaigns or bring in the projects that earned money for the collective. These factors ultimately led to the doors closing on Fleet.
Donna went on to run another space in the Vision building and we spoke to Mal Abbas, founder of Biome Collective, who were part of the Vision Building space run by NEoN. He describes it as a great showcase for the creative community in Dundee where visitors to the city were often paraded through like a bit of a creative zoo. The space at Vision was always on a short term deal, if a full paying tenant came along then they would have to vacate. This began on a 6month notice period but as time progressed this shortened to 1 month and led to a lot of uncertainty. This was the trade off for being able to offer affordable space.
West Ward Works is the last space we explore in this episode, an absolutely massive old DC Thomson print works over four floors. After it was the venue for Dundee Design Festival in 2016 conversations started to happen around the potential of the space and how it could be transformed into a creative hub for the city. It had real potential to house a massive part of Dundee's creative activities but after several delays to the Tay cities deal funding the project could not be realised. In the end it was too ambitious and needed to be able to start small and grow.
Joanna Helfer - https://joannahelfer.net/
Tin Roof Collective - https://twitter.com/tinroofdundee
Donna Holford-Lovell full Creative Chit Chat episode - http://cccdundee.com/episodes/fleet-collective/
NEoN Digital Arts Festival - https://neondigitalarts.com/
Mal Abbas - https://twitter.com/maltron3D
Biome Collective - https://www.biomecollective.com/
Designing a Liveable City in Helsinki -
Casual Spying in Helsinki - https://www.agencyofnone.com/no/casual-spying-in-helsinki
David Cook - https://twitter.com/cookied66
This podcast series is supported by the National Lottery through Creative Scotland.