Robert Burns-inspired flash mobs, public sculpture and sound installations in Ayrshire, Transformers-inspired robotic sculpture in Shetland, giant cardboard tower building in Glasgow, three communities creating individual events with dance, music and sculpture in Dumfries and Galloway with a finale in Dumfries city centre, a procession of young performers on the streets of Fraserburgh with a spectacular firework display and a takeover of Falkirk’s new park-space with performance and visual arts collaboration.
Roofless is Scotland’s biggest, most ambitious new outdoor arts programme, designed to engage directly with local and regional communities across the country. In its inaugural year 2012 and into 2013, Roofless created five large-scale public participation events tailored to specific regions of Scotland, forging links between communities and strengthening connections between professional artists and the Scottish public.
Although each project is distinctly different and rooted in the local history and culture of its region, they will all come about through a series of participation events and workshops, helping the communities work with professional artists towards a spectacular finale. By placing art in unconventional venues and public or outdoor spaces, Roofless removes barriers to accessing art and gives audiences the chance to inform, and participate in, the work that is created.
Roofless has been building up a network of like-minded artists and producers involved in public art across the country. As Roofless also runs across accessible digital and social media platforms, we can connect communities across Scotland and the world on an even larger scale, developing an infrastructure for more wide reaching arts provision and engagement across communities in Scotland. Many of the areas we are working with are those identified in 2008’s Taking Part report as the least likely to engage with art events, whether due to economic disadvantage or, in more rural areas, geographical spread.
Roofless has been part of the Year of Creative Scotland in 2012 and Roofless at Falkirk, Helix Day will be part of the Year of Natural Scotland.
The first Roofless project, Burns Brightly, took place as part of the Burns an’ a’ That Festival in Ayr in June 2012. French artist Olivier Grossetête worked with 100 local school children to build his first tower in Scotland, a full-size reconstruction in cardboard of one of the lighthouses from the area. The tower used 1,400 cardboard boxes in its construction before being toppled and flattened by the crowds in Wellington Square Park.
Artists Jane Pitt, Michelle Letowski, Ruth Carslaw and Gordon Roger created installations for St John’s Tower and the Auld Kirk House, which were the outcome of their work with local groups in the weeks building up to the Festival. Jane Pitt’s ‘Ayr Bourne’ conjured potent, funny and uncanny reinventions of Ayr’s sonic fingerprint, created by members of local community groups. Michelle Letowska worked with local walking groups to record their experiences to create ‘One Road Leads to Another’, an installation of folded images and texts.
The artistic programme also featured a series of café talks at Su Casa Coffee House by artist Dianne Torr, and novelist Alan Bisset with singer-songwriter Alistair Ogilvy.
In August 2012, in partnership with Shetland Arts, Roofless unveiled ‘the Transformers inspired, animatronic, musical condor, ‘Buzzbeak’, the brainchild of artist Sumit Sarkar and realized through the project Engine Tuning.
Originally envisaged as a sculpture project in the build up to Shetland Arts’ and National Theatre of Scotland’s Ignition project, Engine Tuning took on a life of its own, shaped by artist Sumit Sarkar, engineer Duncan Turner and a team of technicians, musicians and members of the local community on Shetland.
The interactive musical condor, inspired in part by the film and toy series Transformers, travelled to three rural venues in Shetland; Voe, Cunningsburgh and Walls, where she received gifts of music from the communities visited. The people of Shetland were encouraged to bring their favourite pieces of music on vinyl, CD or mp3, or even to perform live to the condor as Buzzbeak remixed the gift back to the giver as it happened. ‘Buzzbeak’ has since toured to Roofless venues in Dumfries & Galloway, Falkirk and to the Burns An A’ That Festival in 2013.
Dumfries & Galloway
During the summer of 2012, Roofless engaged with artists and communities in across Dumfries & Galloway to raise the roof on their village halls in Halls of Fame. The communities and users of three village halls in Gatehouse of Fleet, Moniave and Ecclefechan worked with local artists to produce exhibitions, installations and performances for each of their halls.
At a finale event on Sunday 16th September a ‘virtual’ hall was constructed in Dumfries, providing a central focus for the projects. Each participating hall was invited to bring an element of their creative Halls of Fame programme to form part of the finale event. Workshops and performances at each of the halls included music and singing, spoken word, theatre, dance and acrobatics, led by artists and performers including Alex Rigg, Sian Thomas, Emma Park and Angie Dight.
In Aberdeenshire, Roofless worked with Theatre Modo, who have run a youth regeneration project in the area for the past 3 years in partnership with Shell, Reaching Out, Aberdeenshire Council and Community Planning Partners.
Theatre Modo, a social enterprise that uses high quality engagement in circus and carnival arts as a catalyst for individual and community change, worked with youth groups and schools in Fraserburgh and the surrounding area, delivering workshops in stilt walking, circus, dance and street theatre. They were also able to partner young people with professionals from Theatre Modo, training them to deliver workshops in circus skills to their peers.
The project culminated in Maelstrom; the Shell Fireworks Parade on Friday 2nd November 2012, with hundreds of young people taking to the streets for the parade, telling the story of local legends with circus and street theatre, giant puppets and floats.