Glasgow Goes Green


Glasgow Goes Green


Bringing sustainable living facts, fun and food is the pop up festival Glasgow Goes Green. Running 15 February in SWG3 from 5– 11pm, the event is part of UK Go Green Week.

Festival lead organiser Sarah Bacom explained: Go Green Week is the largest week of student climate action. Glasgow Goes Green comes as part of it, bringing together the city’s four universities in the common cause of environmentalism.”

Although student led the festival welcomes people from all walks of life, with daytime family activities and an 18+ after party.

Bacom said: “The festival will be running in two stages; from 5- 8pm it will be family friendly, with stalls, activities and acoustic music. Then from 9 – 11pm the stalls will close and a DJ from the IM Project will lead the party.”

The venue has disabled access and guests can book free tickets from Eventbite website.

We want the festival to show that environmentalism is accessible to everyone,” the organiser added.

This sentiment will ring throughout the day’s activities.

Bacom said: “The festival will have food, arts, crafts, lifestyle and biodiversity strands. Some people will have stalls and some will host workshops. The arts strands will see interactive sessions, such as live mural painting, where the crowd can come forward and feed into the artists’ work.

“There will be art displays that people can pass and admire, but most of the art will have an interactive element.”

Getting everyone involved is the aim of the game.

Bacom explained: “This year’s festival theme is ‘What does Green Mean to You’; so we are trying to engage with people who might not identify themselves as environmentalists and change their perspective.”

She added: “Environmentalism means different things to different people; some people think of gardening while others think of protesting. Some people are very passionate about human rights, but don’t associate this with environmentalism, however we are working to show that climate justice is social justice.”

With its food for thought the festival also brings food for sustenance.

Bacom promised: “There is going to be lots of vegan, as well as gluten free food. Some of the more unusual food will include honey from the Glasgow University Beekeeping Society. The beekeepers will even be hosting honey tasting sessions!”

Honey can also be found in some of the festival’s drinks, as it will include Plan Bee a company that flavours its beer with locally sourced nectar.

Bacom enthused: “There are so many eco-friendly start- ups, niche organisations and projects in Glasgow! This shows that Glaswegians have a real desire to make their city better and empower others too.” 

This desire was reflected in the strong turn out of last year’s Glasgow Goes Green festival, which boasted over 800 attendees.

This year’s festival looks to follow suit, with 2/3 of the tickets snapped up within the first few weeks of going live.

Bacom concluded: “Come and explore Glasgow Goes Green! We have something for everyone. You never know what you might do or who you might meet!”

Girls and their Mothers


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Busting the myth ‘like mother like daughter’ is Scottish photographer Kim Simpson. Showcasing in East Kilbride Central Library – from May 28 to June 30 – Simpson’s exhibition, Mothers and their Daughters, celebrates individuality.

She said: “I have been inspired by the experiences of raising my daughter, Lamaya, who is of mixed race. She has been raised in the same Scottish town that I grew up in, and while our experiences are largely similar there has unfortunately also been some negativity due to the colour of her skin.”

Simpson explained that as Lamaya grew her peers became more conscious of image and how hers differed to their own.

Simpson added: “My daughter had a particularly difficult school year in Primary 7, when a class full of children who she had been with for the last six years seemed to view her differently all of a sudden.

“I found it extremely hard to get the school to take action on this and felt that my concerns were being brushed off.”

Being white from a largely Caucasian town, Simpson saw there was apathy for the challenges faced by mixed race families. Realising others were also experiencing these frustrations, Simpson used her art to connect individual’s narratives.

She said: “Spending time with girls and women of mixed race who had grown up experiencing what my daughter had, and flourishing in spite of it, was inspirational.”

Simpson photographed sixteen families all together, resulting in a total of 48 images.

She recalled: “There were many stories shared, both positive and negative. People who lived pockets of the same city – some only minutes apart – had huge differences in social interactions with their local areas.”

Recognising the differences in maternal relationships, as well as the common challenges, Simpson’s work struck a chord with many.

She said: “I am overwhelmed at the amount of support this project has received from its infancy to exhibition planning. I am pleased to have created something that has been so well received.”

As well as personal significance, the project has professional significance as Simpson’s first solo tour.

She said: “Co-ordinating a solo touring exhibition has been a huge learning curve and great experience. I am now able to respond to the feedback gained during my exhibitions; allowing me to think bigger by incorporating talks and community projects in to my work. I am also looking to expand my existing projects with a real national significance.”

This is no mean feat, considering Simpson juggles exhibitions with paid work and parenting. Despite this challenge, she explained motherhood was what led her back to her passion for art.

Simpson said: “While most kids want to grow up to be a vet or a police officer, I wanted to be a wildlife photographer and work with David Attenborough. I also used to love sketching and painting, but never saw art as a viable career option.

“However I came back to art as an adult, during some time out of work when my daughter was born.”

While on this break Simpson took up painting again, working on leather and 3D objects. She began painting more intricate designs on shoes, a skill which eventually saw her win Best Customizing Designer at the UK Urban Fashion Awards, in 2007.

Despite this passion for paint, Simpson yearned to focus on photography.

She recalled: “I began spending more and more time considering themed images for each of my shoe designs, until eventually I was painting to match photo-shoot ideas. It was at this point I listened to my inner child and pursued photography full time.”

Simpson went on to study photography at City of Glasgow College, staying for four years, and earning a First Class honours degree.

She said: “The final two years of study saw me hone an interest in to the Visual Norm.”

This theme continues to be seen in Simpson’s Mothers and their Daughters exhibition, as well as providing inspiration for her next project.

She concluded: “I will be continuing this theme through an exhibition of new work, at the Dysfunction Gallery, in September 2016. This work will then be included in Glasgow’s Black History Month exhibition, during October.”


Junk Kouture

junk kouture

Proving one man’s junk is another man’s treasure is recycled fashion show Junk Kouture. Coming to Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall on February 5 (7pm) the event will see Scottish school kids take the runway.

Competing in small teams the high school students will present couture outfits they have made from purely recycled material. As if this wasn’t enough, the teams must also create a performance, as well as hair and makeup to showcase their designs.

Junk Kouture founder Elizabeth Curran said: “In the past we have had students make outfits from paper, cans and crisp packets, but we have also had some really unusual material such as fruit skins.

 “Last year we had a dress made from recycled balloons and it was amazing; so couture!”

While the event may sound feminine, Curran clarifies that the comp welcomes both genders and all outfit styles.

She said: “In the past we have had male models, but it tends to be that there are more boys working behind the scenes on the production.”

Tasked with judging this year’s designs are Head of Art and Design at Glasgow School of Art Jimmy Stephen-Cran, who will be examining the technical skills; previous Junk Kourture winner Michael Galbraith, who will focus on the teamwork; blogger Katie O’Brien, who will concentrate on the fashion styles; and XFactor famed Louis Walsh, who will be looking for the best performance.

Curran explained: “Each team’s model gets 90 seconds on stage and will be judged on performance, quality of design, use of recycled materials and glamour.”

While the judges deliberate over these entrants the audience will be treated to a performance from Louis Walsh’s new band Home Town.

The celebrity pull continues in Junk Kouture’s prizes; as winners of the glamour category will be receive tickets to the Royal film premier, getting to relive their glory London’s red carpet.

Other prizes include £1000 for the winning school, £500 and mini iPads for the winning team, as well as Ticketmaster vouchers for the best performance winners.

Prizes are however not the only incentive for students to enter Junk Kouture, the competition builds into school curriculums.

Curran said: “Students who enter Junk Kouture are learning about recycling, while being creative and enterprising at the same time.

 “The competition is open to 11 – 18 year olds and they can use it as part of their course work or it can contribute to after-school programmes, such as the Duke of Edinburgh.”

As well as building skills Junk Kouture spreads the message of sustainable fashion.

Curran explained: “The idea of Junk Kouture came from an Irish artist I had seen making statues from junk. At the same time I had been involved in local charity fashion shows and I thought the two concepts would go well together.”

 She added: “Sustainable fashion is so important; there are so many people being exploited in foreign garment factories and I am totally against it.”

 “People don’t have to buy cheap clothes to dress on a budget; they can upcycle old items and think outside the box.”

This sustainable message is spreading fast; as Junk Kouture grows from its humble roots.

Its founder said: “I came up with the idea of Junk Kouture six years ago, when I had a dance studio and wanted to do something else. I started the competition in Ulster Ireland and sent its programme out to the schools.

 “The first year was very simple; it ran from a hotel and had no sponsorship. Then, through dance classes, I met my business partner Troy Armour, and we worked together to take Junk Kourture multinational.

 “Along the way we met Moria Gordy – from Riverdance – and she mentored us; she was the one who convinced us to take it out of hotels an into theatres.

 “We then got different sponsors, including Bank of Ireland, and rolled the show out to Scotland.”

 She added: “Last year was the first time we ran Junk Kouture in Scotland; we kept it small and had about 25 entries, but this year we have 150 entries and have moved it to the Royal Concert Hall.

 “Eventually we hope to run shows throughout the UK.”

With annual competitions, students who wish to apply to next year’s Junk Kouture can visit the website for details.

Everyone else can sit back and enjoy the show.

Tickets are £10 and can be bought from Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall.

Curran concluded: “You have to see the show to believe it. The sight of the models outfits and accessories made from entirely from junk is outstanding.”

Merchant City Festival

Merchant City Festival

Preparations have begun for this year’s Merchant City festival and it promises to be the biggest yet. Running twice the length of previous events, the 2015 bill will span July 25 – August 2.

Festival Executive Producer, Lorenzo Mele, said: “The 2014 Festival was exceptional because it supported the Commonwealth Games, acting as the cultural centre for the programme. Last year’s festival brought the city alive with outdoor content and that will continue this year.”

The outdoor content is expected to include acting, circus performances, and of course music.

Mele said: “The festival will include lots of different art forms, but its central element will be music. We have two outdoor stages every year and this year they will host a variety of artists, playing everything from rock, to RnB, and dance music.”

The Brunswick Street Stage will have a marquee with large screen and bar area; while the Emerging Talent Stage will showcase new bands.

Indoors, the Blackfriars Stage will once again feature music acts, but this year it will also become a comedy hub.

Headline comedy and music events will be cost ticketed, however Mele explained the majority of festival events will be free.

Bargain-seekers can enjoy a variety of performances and workshops throughout the day.

Mele said: “We want the festival’s daytime schedule to appeal to as much as the night; so we are hosting a weekday family zone, in Merchant City Square, from 27 –31 July.

“The festival will have interactive workshops for toddlers and parents; music for adults; and this year – for the first time – a programme for those 55 and older.”

Mele welcomed guests from all ages and walks of life.

He said: “The Merchant City Festival is good at bringing the focus on art, but also at attracting members of the public who wouldn’t usually go to gigs.”

He described plans to attract shoppers with interactive fashion and beauty events.

Mele said: “The team are examining ways to make the fashion element of the festival interactive, with things like upcycling and accessorising workshops.”

He added: “We have a Barcelonan act coming to the festival, called Osadia. This group create fantasy makeovers, taking people from the audience and transforming their look with hair and make- up sculpture.

“Osadia performed at the festival last year and they were hugely popular, so we look forward to having them back.”

Another international act Mele anticipates being a hit, is Dutch musician-come- chef: The Screaming, Cooking Prince; whose act does what it says on the tin.

As well as international acts, the festival will showcase home-grown talent.

Mele explained: “One of the highlights will be a UK dance performance called Fragile; a world Premier show from the Motionhouse dance company. It will involve around 25 performers dancing in, on and around JCB diggers. It should be quite spectacular.”

He concluded: “The Merchant City Festival really does have something for everyone. As well as great acts there will be stalls selling food from around the world.”

The festival’s themes include: Scotland’s Year of Food and Drink, and Glasgow’s Year of Green; these themes provide inspiration for organisations hoping to participate.

Organisations hoping to participate in Merchant City Festival can apply for grants of up to £500, through the Get Involved Fund.

Proposals should include specially planned activities that incorporate city space.

Say It Aint Sew


As clothes became cheaper the art of sewing waned, but the craft fought back and was reborn as recreation.

Programmes like The Sewing Bee capitalised on this trend, reflecting the latest wave of interest.

Costume designer, Iona Barker said: “The image of sewing has shifted over the years from something girly to something androgynous and cool. This shift has been aided by programmes like The Sewing Bee, which has had more and more male contestants.

“So now I think guys are keen to get into sewing and don’t worry about being mocked by their pals.”

Barker speaks from experience, as she runs the Say It Aint Sew class in  Edinburgh’s Cabaret Voltaire (Monday 6.30 to 8.30pm) and Glasgow’s Hillhead Bookclub (Tuesday 6.30 to 8.30pm).

Barker said: “I started running the Glasgow class in May 2010, when I was working in a local bar. The Hillhead Bookclub was just about to open and its’ soon –to-be manager was a friend of a friend, looking to incorporate activities.”

“I was terrified at the concept of running a class; I had never done anything like it, but as the years passed it went from strength to strength; now I just love it.”

The love of sewing had filled Barker from a young age.

She said: “When I was a kid I was very creative; I enjoyed making things and watching old films where the actresses wore big dresses. So I started cutting up my mum’s clothes and turning them into costumes.

“Later I went on to Glasgow Caledonian University and studied Fashion Business.”

As a fashion student Barker sought craft tutorials in Glasgow; but the classes she found were institutional and costly. This inspired her to start a group that was free and accessible to the public.

Barker explained: “Say It Aint Sew is a total beginners group. Attendees don’t have to bring anything. All the equipment and fabric is there waiting for them.”

“I work as a costume designer, so over the years I have collected masses of material, and the classes are a great way to use my horde.”

Barker’s range of materials influence the items made in class. However, inspiration also comes from participant’s requests and the seasons; for example the class made chicks at Easter.

The tutor said: “We have made a real mix of things from headbands to Super Mario figurines.”

This variety of projects has led to a diverse group.

Barker explained: “We usually have a mix [of over 18s] from students, to professionals and elderly people.

“There is a mix in gender too; a lot of the girls bring their boyfriends to the class and the guys tend to find it is better than what they had expected.”

The class starts by grabbing a drink and name sticker at the bar. Then once seated, the sewing and socialising begins.

Barker said: “Everything is explained from the start, from the amount of thread needed, to the technique of a basic stitch.

“Beginners can be a bit apprehensive, but after an hour they get totally into it. Everybody leaves with the finished piece and a sense of accomplishment.”

She concluded: “The class is a great way to discover a new skills and people. Everyone gets the chance to chat and I have seen lasting friendships formed.”

For more information visit the Say It Aint Sew Facebook page.

Charity shopping

charity shop

My love of charity shops started as a child, when my twin and I would follow our gran through hordes of toys and books. The years passed, as did my gran, but the love remained. As my twin moved away first to Aberdeen, then to London she found comfort in their thrift shops; different yet constant.

Now, whenever I visit her, our home town or a new one I search these havens. I marvel at the vintage clothes, home- made items, retro books and board games.

Over the years my twin and I have found bargains to fill home and heart. Here are some of the best:

  • An entire J&G Meakin retro coffee set (around £20 from various Scottish charity shops; pictured above)
  • A Readers Digest paperback guide to crafts (50p from Duke Street PDSA)
  • Cross stitched framed landscapes (averaging at £2 per item in various Aberdeen charity shops)
  • A Warehouse work dress and jacket suit (£10 from Aberdeen’s British Heart Foundation)
  • A Reiss blue cocktail dress (£20 from Queen Street’s Cancer Research shop)
  • A Hobbs black batwing jumper (£2.75 from Duke Street Prince and Princes of Wales Charity Shop)
  • The Game of Life board game (£2 from Cumbernauld’s Salvation Army)

With these bargains I have picked up charity shop etiquette. For instance:

  • Bring cash: although most shops have card machines, some only deal in cash.
  • Never ask for discount: unlike ‘vintage’ or ‘second hand shops’ charity shops are non-profit, meaning after bills their proceeds go to the third sector.
  • Be nice to the staff: most of the staff are volunteers, so they are unpaid for their time.
  • Clean items before use: volunteers do their best to prep items, but if you are buying clothes or furnishings a wash will make them feel your own.
  • Give something back: shops need donations to keep thrifting alive.

If you are not convinced it’s worth the effort then consider this: charity shops raise more than £290m every year; they encourage recycling, keep high streets alive and offer work experience as a step into employment.

Duke Street Shelter shop volunteer, Kareen Robertson, said: “We have a lot of young people both working here and shopping here.

Shoppers are moving away from the idea that charity shops are just for old people; now they are becoming more fashionable.”

Epitomising this trend, Shelter (Duke Street) opened its doors in 2013 with an interior of chrome, glass, white paint, mirrored walls and two fitting rooms.

Ms Robertson said: “This shop fairly new, but it is considered one of the best on the street. Customers say that it doesn’t even feel like a charity shop (although all the proceeds do go to Shelter).”

She added: “Shops like this are a great place to source vintage clothes and unusual pieces. Sometimes you can find things here that you can’t find anywhere else.”

Echoing this sentiment is Duke Street Prince and Princes of Wales Charity Shop volunteer, Pat Hendry.

She said: “It doesn’t matter what people bring in, someone will buy it. We had a horses’ saddle donated the other day and we managed to find it a new home.”

 “We have people coming in looking for eclectic things; a while ago we had a lady  – who does acting – looking at the pound rail and she bought a fancy top with orange, greens and blues; it was horrible but it suited the play she was doing.”

Ms Hendry noted that her most popular items were designer clothes, but that vinyl records were also becoming popular again.

She concluded: “The prices in here are very low, so people are happy to get a bargain. But people are also more socially –minded and want to help out charities.”

To find a charity shop near you visit Charity Retail’s shop locator.