Category Archives: Catalogue

The Unlearning Organisation: Cultural Devolution and Scotland’s Visual Arts 1967-2017 in Artists in the City: SPACE in ’68 and beyond

Artists in the City: SPACE in 1968 and Beyond
Edited by Anna Harding
Designed by Modern Activity
Published by SPACE (Art Services Grants Limited)
ISBN 978-1-9999278-0-6
Distributed by Cornerhouse Publications, HOME, 2 Tony Wilson Place, Manchester M15 4FN. Price £19.95

SPACE’s 50th Anniversary Archive Display
SPACE Mare Street, London
19 January – 17 March 2018

In celebration of SPACE’s 50th anniversary, a display in the project space presents previously unseen material from SPACE’s archive covering the years 1968-75 as well as photographs of early events and studio sites, capturing the founding years of SPACE and AIR, the Art Information Register which was the sister organization to SPACE. This material forms the basis of the book Artists in the City: SPACE in 1968 and beyond to be published in March.

The book launch event is set for Saturday 17 March, followed by a panel discussion with selected contributors at Whitechapel Art Gallery on Thursday 22 March.

Neil Mulholland – The Unlearning Organisation: Cultural Devolution and Scotland’s Visual Arts 1967-2017

Building on primary research in CCA/GSA’s Third Eye Centre archive and interviews with key stakeholders, this chapter elaborates the ways in which visual artists based in Scotland developed their own civic infrastructure in tandem with the devolution of state arts patronage from London to Edinburgh from 1967 onwards. It demonstrates how the Keynesian arms-length principal inherited by the Scottish Arts Council (SAC) generated a productive tension with nascent Artist Run Initiatives (ARIs) in Scotland. With limited state support, artists successfully developed and ran their own platforms while the Scottish Arts Council founded and led more generously funded (competing) national and civic arts organisations.

Realising Tom Nairn and Bob Tait’s vision of a Scottish International, Scotland’s nascent ARIs bypassed official Scottish and British arts bodies, finding a blueprint and network for their activities in ARIs such as SPACE (London) and PS1 (New York City).

As a means of mapping means of production and systems of distribution over the past half century, the chapter presents snapshots of organisational change at pivotal moments in the devolution of the arts in Scotland: 1971, 1979, 1992 and 1999.

These case studies provide a basis for critical analysis of the devolution of the visual arts since the reconvening of the Scottish Parliament. Following political devolution in 1999, Scotland’s Governments have revoked JM Keynes’ arm’s length Patron State model in favour of the New Labour experiment with Structuration and creative economics that is Creative Scotland. Throwing SAC on the arms-length-bodies bonfire that has raged across R-UK, a centrist ‘creative economy’ model has been accelerated by the SNP.

In some respects, post-devolution Scotland is less devolved than it was in 1994 and, also, less democratically accountable. The chapter proposes that the Scottish Government may best unlearn the existing Union State apparatus by adapting the distinctive model of collaborative advantage that artists have developed to successfully govern their activities over the past 50 years.

Praktika II : 21 Years of Deveron Arts


I wrote a short report on Praktika II : which formed part of the 21 Years of Deveron Arts Celebrations in Huntly, December 2017

PDF is available from Deveron Arts (via this link)

and from this link

21 Years of Deveron Arts

“By taking stock we reflected on our position as a key player for socially engaged art in Scotland. Working with Anthony Schrag and David Harding, we held Praktika II. Praktika was a 3 day intensive workshop in 2008 which brought 12 artists together with David Harding, Rosie Gibson and Deveron Projects to consider, and raise the profile of, socially engaged art practice.

Praktika was also the first time we worked with Anthony, since he has done two projects with us, A Perfect Father Day and Lure of the Lost. Unlike the original Praktika this was just a two hour session, however rather than purely artists this workshop brought together a selection of artists, academics, community members and policy makers. In order to gain an insight from all parties involved in socially engaged projects. The workshop considered the “wicked problem”, as Anthony puts, it of socially engaged practice and how Deveron Projects can move forward.”

Advance into Retreat

Neo-Pagan Witch Bitch

“I am out of the office with intermittent access to email. I’d love to help you, but…

Sooooooh…. where are we at? It’s been a while. Let’s call it like I see it. I didn’t leave mergers and acquisitions, they left me. I’d wrongsided the demographic (‘cocktail of misanthropic emotive states’). My capture was fading. I was losing bandwith. I didn’t leverage that ‘unyielding integrity’, you got me? Look, this is who I was meant to be. Eye that shalt not be swayed by fear. Accumulate. Just a wolfblood. Never missin’ out. So this is all I need to be, just let me transform. Drinkin’ Ritalin’ LOL!

More than anything I yearned for a little time, just to assess and mitigate immediate impacts, to develop a high-level overview that’d really frame the conversation. Sure, we all need process, some fast 540-degree thinking, but what you people all seem to really want is something that simply lets you return to the wild. Not ‘not new but neo’, but narcissism nouveau. Loop back. Sit by fire in the ancient way. Honour rich heritage. Humble and open. Laverbread with cockles. Re-strategized emotional research. And so, I entered on the deep and savage way.

Linkedin indicated that I was receptive to an offer. I pounced on the first with all the wholeheartedness I could stomach. ‘Lead Attentiveness Evangelist’ for some anonymous oracle who spends most of its days on the fruit machines at the Accelerando Four Seasons (never burn bridges. Today’s junior prick, tomorrow’s senior partner). From the get-go I wasn’t just living the values, I was the values. Sprinkling a little of my magic. In this space, I call to thee. This is my will, So Mote It Be.

It was all cascaded through FaceTime: “Breathe in (1,000,000 Rupiah), Breathe out (1,000,000 Rupiah), Breathe in (1,000,000 Rupiah), Breathe out (1,000,000 Rupiah), Breathe in (1,000,000 Rupiah), Breathe out (1,000,000 Rupiah), Breathe in (1,000,000 Rupiah), Breathe out (1,000,000 Rupiah)… Slowly open your eyes.” Look, you, I handle blot ritual by any means necessary. I do not let personal feelings restrain. Strong will of mind. Confidence to succeed. One candle of color, will make them accede.

Reputational damage aside, never had any insecurities to lose, completely lucid. Looking backwards into myself. There’s no reflection in this mirror. And so, you know, nothing to worry about. Got all of my ducks in a row. “My life didn’t please me, so I created my life”, Coco Chanel!

And pretty soon enough I was suffocating from all the fucking holism. Gimme some prudence, some self-reliance, some granularity: not everything is connected! But, turns out doing a little re-branding work on the self does wonders for improving one’s marketability, maximising labor potentials. It appeals directly to the kind of ‘emotional intelligence’ that buys a sincere product just to feel ‘different’. Earth, grass, trees and seeds reveal the brand to suit their needs. As Age ordains and Birth concedes, all they shall lose are my proceeds.

Sooooooh, one of my interns spends a little me-time at a fuss-free sacred woman intensive working hard on how the market views my ‘feelings of affectivity’. Time out from endless pot-pourri. OMGGGGGGGGGG. Voyage, voyage. Esperanto soundtrack. Days of our Lives photography. Learn to tune yourself out. Recede. She ‘notices’. Seigfried’s milkweek, cetipede, flaxseed, ganymede, poppy seed… She is colonically irrigated by a mesopagan idea shower. There’s an erupting superabundance of value, an exuberant flowering of unwaged energy given happily, enjoyed and joyfully exploited. Intercede, proofread mortgage deed, tweed-greed, overfeed white bead, lightspeed title deed.

ATTENTION. After just one week, my affectivity ratings are going through the roof. I dispatch another succubus from the typing pool for some daily affirmations that win me even more hearts and minds. I can see at once the immense potential, my interns’ authentic passions transubstantiated as capital through the power of repeating words as often as they feel is right. The vernal equinox is happy to offload and govern more than 78% of my workforce’s emotional labor, keeping one ahead of one’s peers by promising everything else a fuller, better life.

I settled my self into this, actioned it. Transubstantiated all my assets as a willow sapling in the throbbing epicentre of the Bay Area. It has its own occult blog that updates on the half hour. And also in addition this leaves my fingers free to get on with architecting a franchise of Druid-friendly meeting venues and retreats. Psychoactivity Center for Responsibilization: remodelling today’s whirling dervishes into tomorrow’s leading prosumers. The brand ID is exquisite: a snow white cross resting quietly on a snow white background. Gaian heir apparent of Euroluxe Martini ads (anytime, anyplace, everywhere). I have fun doing this. Getting it through the pipeline. But, at close of play, I’m not doing it for fun. Good luck!”

Katherine Parker

“I wonder if you could make a small notice for us”

A play featuring things from the Scottish Arts Council’s Glasgow Gallery (1968-74) and the first ten years of Third Eye Centre, Glasgow (1975-86) based on

Commissioned by ‘The Glasgow Miracle: Materials for Alternative Histories’, Glasgow School of Art.  Click on the image below to read the play: