Glasgow Women’s Library

Glasgow Women's Library

Ascending the cultural statusphere is a museum unlike any other. From its base in Bridgeton, Glasgow Women’s Library is blazing a trail for the rest of the UK.

“The Library has grown from a tiny grassroots organisation to become the only accredited museum – in the UK – dedicated to Women’s History. It is also a recognised collection of national significance,” GWL Enterprise Development Manager, Sue John, said.

GWL’s status of national significance comes not just from its records of society, but from its social action. The Library grew from an Eighties project titled Women in Profile, which highlighted the cultural achievements of Glasgow’s Women, in the run up to its European City of Culture award.

Since then the library has remained committed to social activism.

John explained: “Outreach programmes are something that Glasgow Women’s Library has always ran. For instance, we have a long standing adult literacy programme and its students often become involved in our other projects.”

Part of these projects has always been the gathering of artifacts on women’s history.

John said: “We collect items that tell the stories of women’s lives, whether it be things from the women’s liberation movement or more recently things collected at Trump protests.”

Throughout the years, as GWL projects grew in number so did its artifacts. Once an impressive collection had formed the GWL went through the robust process of becoming an accredited museum.

John said: “GWL has managed to keep grassroots ownership, because everything in the Library is donated; whether it be the 20000 books, 3000 museum items or 300000 archive items.

“We have kept all of the resources accessible and friendly, to maintain our core values of equality, diversity and inclusion.”

This democratic approach even extends to the museum’s curatorial choices.

John revealed: “We have a project called Women Making an Exhibition of Themselves that gets volunteers involved as the library’s community curators. This means that they help to decide which artifacts make it through to our permanent collection. The community curators pick items and find ways of interpreting their stories.”

Similar interactivity also lies at the heart of GWL events.

John explained: “We host speaker and workshop events that attract both men and women, old and young. For instance, we are hosting Open the Door, a Literary Festival that brings together women authors and aspiring writers. 

The festival will have workshops, performances and networking sessions. Headlining the festival will be writers including, Louise Welsh, Kirsty Logan, Sim Bajwa, Val MacDermid and Lesley McDowell.

John enthused: “The beauty of Glasgow Women’s Library is that we bring together people whose paths might not naturally cross. We have local people rubbing shoulders with Turner Prize nominee artists.”

GWL attempts to make culture accessible to all by offering free activities, Pay It Forward ticket schemes and disability friendly events.

John said: “As a society we are not placing as much importance as we should on the life-changing power of art, culture and heritage. We know that it can be a powerful vehicle in providing opportunities.

“When you improve the lives of women you also improve the lives of their families and the communities that they live within. That is how Glasgow Women’s Library has worked throughout the years to win hearts and minds.”

She concluded: “Everyone is welcome to come into Glasgow Women’s Library. Visitors are greeted with the offer of tea and a tour, they don’t have to spend any money or even have a reason for coming.”

[Photo credit: Keith Hunter]

GFF 2016

GROUP SHOT_CREDIT NEIL THOMAS DOUGLAS

As the curtain rises on Glasgow’s 2016 Film Festival the good times begin to roll.

Running from 17- 28 February, GFF will feature 308 events and 174 films.

Opening the festival is the UK premiere of comedy Hail, Caesar! by Ethan & Joel Coen; and the debuts continue as Richard Gere hits Glasgow to showcase his slice of life film Time Out of Mind. Also joining GFF VIPs is Game of Throne actress Natalie Dormer, who will grace the red carpet for her UK premiere in the horror The Forest.

Another premier will close the festival, as Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson’s love story Anomalisa reels for its first UK audience.

Film critic Alan Laidlaw said: “This year is set to be another great one for the GFF, with some top films having their UK and European premieres; this can only help to grow the reputation of the festival.”

But it’s not just premiers stealing the limelight at GFF 2016; the festival also celebrates Hollywood’s golden age with free morning matinees; before staging modern classics in pop up locations.

Both Raiders of the Lost Ark and Silence of the Lambs will be screened at Kelvingrove Art Gallery; then Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet will be served with ‘poison vial’ cocktails in Trades Hall. As well as this, news satire Network will reel in BBC Scotland (Glasgow); Thelma & Louise will hoe down at the Grand Ole Opry; and Con Air will be shown in a mystery located ‘prison bus’.

Glasgow Film Festival Co-Director Allison Gardner said: “I’m really delighted with this year’s programme. The festival keeps moving forward whilst also maintaining its roots as audience-focused; everyone can come together to share a love of cinema.”

Foreign film lovers will also rejoice at the GFF ‘Country Focus’ strand; which this year showcases Argentinean drama, travel and crime movies.

Allan Hunter, Glasgow Film Festival Co-Director, said: “I’m excited to introduce audiences to real gems like Pablo Trapero’s gripping crime drama The Clan in our Argentine focus.”

After crossing continents, the GFF crosses space with D A Pennebaker’s documentary Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, paying homage to the late David Bowie. The showing will be followed by documentary short Let’s Dance: Bowie Down Under.

With such a range of flicks GFF attendees will have a hard time voting for this year’s Audience Award. The Scottish Power sponsored comp will see ten of the festival’s new director films fight for first place.

Film critic Alan Laidlaw lamented the choice.

He said: Having attended the festival as a fan and critic I’ve been able to see both sides; and every year GFF surpasses expectations in the quality of its cinema and unique events.”

“I’m particularly looking forward to seeing Louder Than Bombs, the great Norwegian director Joachim Trier’s first feature film in English.”

He concluded: “The GFF is always one of the highlights of Glasgow’s cultural calendar.”