, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Exhibition of prisoner artwork helps weave new side to Paisley 2021 bid

Prisoners at one of Scotland’s jails have created an exhibition of creative artwork inspired by Paisley – now on display in the town’s museum.

artwork depicting Paolo Nutini and John Byrne, while

The exhibition – called Weave – opened this week and features paintings, creative writing, sculpture, textiles and song produced by inmates at HMP Low Moss.

Paisley Museum’s Georgia Edmondson poses in the gallery

The programme was run by the Learning Centre at the prison, who each year work with Glasgow School of Art on a residency aimed at helping the prisoners turn their lives around by using creativity to express themselves.

As many of HMP Low Moss’s inmates are from the Paisley area, this year’s event was themed around the town – with input from the team behind Paisley’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2021.

It saw a series of workshops inspired by Paisley’s story, including a demonstration of traditional weaving skills, and a songwriting masterclass run by the University of the West of Scotland.

End products include striking paintings of famous Buddies Paolo Nutini and John Byrne, and artwork depicting local features such as Paisley Town Hall, the Paisley Pattern…and even the logo of the Paisley Pirates ice hockey team.

The free-to-visit exhibition was curated by staff at Paisley Museum – who also worked with the prisoners – and runs from this week until October.

The programme was run by Ruth Facchini, learning manager at HMP Low Moss, who said: “To make our society safer, it pays to channel offenders’ energies to positive ends, build their self-worth and help them learn new skills.

“The arts are an especially effective way of engaging with offenders who feel alienated from mainstream education and employment, and there is growing evidence they are effective in turning around offenders’ lives.

“I have already had amazing feedback from people who have viewed the exhibition and our guys who produced it could not be more thrilled to have their work recognised and appreciated.

“They feel valued and that they have contributed something really positive to their community.

“We in HMP Low Moss are firmly behind Paisley’s bid to become UK City of Culture 2021. The town needs regeneration and an economic boost, and our learners – who know more than most about deprivation and lack of opportunity – recognise what a winning bid might bring to Paisley.”

Margaret Scott, Development Manager in the Paisley 2021 bid team, said: “We were delighted to be able to work with the staff and prisoners at HMP Low Moss on this hugely worthwhile project.

“We know involvement in culture makes people’s lives better – one of the key themes of Paisley’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2021 is in making those benefits available to every segment of our community.

“This exhibition shows us putting that into practice – by reaching members of society most in need of a change of direction and, through the power of culture, helping equip them to do that.

“It’s also a great example of partnership in action – with staff from the Scottish Prison Service, the 2021 bid team, Renfrewshire Leisure and the prison charity the Koestler Trust – all playing a part.

“The quality of the artwork is fantastic and really tells the town’s story – I would encourage the public to get along and check out the exhibition for themselves.”

Paisley is bidding for the prestigious title as part of a wider push to transform the town’s future using the power of its internationally-significant heritage and cultural story.

Earlier this month, Paisley was confirmed by the UK Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport as the only Scottish place on the final shortlist – which also features Coventry, Stoke, Sunderland and Swansea.

For more information, visit www.paisley2021.co.uk

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Joel’s marriage proposal is a work of art

ROMANTIC Joel Fagan chose a painting to go on display at Paisley Museum because it shows the exact spot where he proposed to his wife, Jennifer.

Joel Fagan points to the spot on the Loch Etive painting where he proposed

Joel, 24, is a collections assistant at the museum and along with other staff and members of Paisley Art Institute, was asked to select a painting for an exhibition called Random Selection.

When Joel was looking through photographs of paintings owned by the museum and the Art Institute, he couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw a painting of Loch Etive, by artist David Munro from 1872.

And on the bottom right hand corner of the painting he could even see the rocks where his then fiancé was sitting when he went down on one knee and asked: “Will you marry me?”

Joel and his wife, Jennifer on their wedding day

Now that painting will be one of 50 works featured in the free Random Selection exhibition, which opened on Friday, July 7 and runs until Monday, September 25.

Joel Fagan with the painting of Loch Etive, in Paisley Museum

Joel explained how he came to propose marriage two years ago during a trip to the remote Highlands of Scotland:

“We were working in England at the time, but Jennifer always had romantic ideas about Scotland and its scenery and wanted to visit.

‘So, I organised a five-day tour of Scotland and since I already had the engagement ring, planned to pop the question at some point during that holiday.
“We drove five miles down a single-track road to get to the lochside and had a picnic there. The scenery was so stunning I knew this was the right time and place to ask Jennifer if she would marry me.”

Joel continued: “Jennifer was sitting on the rocks – the same ones that you can see in the painting – looking out on to the water when I asked her to turn round. I had the ring in my hand and I told her that I hadn’t just brought her here for a picnic.

“I got down on one knee and asked if she would marry me. It was such an emotional moment that she started crying and said of course she would.”

The couple married earlier this year and now stay in Paisley.

Joel added: “When I was asked to choose some artwork for the exhibition and saw the painting I was shocked. It brought back some incredible memories for me.

“Jennifer can’t believe it either and I’ve no doubt she’ll be a regular visitor to the exhibition!”

Chief executive of Renfrewshire Leisure – which runs arts, culture, sports and leisure facilities locally – Joyce McKellar said: “It’s amazing – and very romantic – that Joel came across a painting that means so much to him and his wife.

“The exhibition features a huge variety of paintings form 16th century religious art to modern contemporary works, so we expect it will be very popular.”

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Renfrewshire and Clydeside’s industrial decline caught on camera

An exhibition of photographs showing the industrial decline of Renfrewshire and Clydeside in the mid Seventies has opened in Paisley Museum.

opening of an exhibition by New York photographer, Larry Herman at paisley museum

New York-born photographer, Larry Herman took the series of pictures between 1974 and 1976 when the once-heavily industrialised region was suffering from many shipyard and factory closures, as the economy foundered.

Herman has hand-printed a new set of 78 black and white gelatin prints for the free exhibition, which is being toured by Street Level Photoworks. The exhibition – Clydeside 1974-76 – runs from June 17 until August 20.

Several of the images were taken in Ferguslie and Linwood giving an intimate glimpse into the lives of local workers four decades ago.

Much of Herman’s work was held in a collection by the Scottish Arts Council, but has now been distributed to various holdings, including the National Galleries of Scotland.

Herman was born in New York, trained as a sculptor and immigrated to the UK during the Vietnam War.

His photography career flourished in the Seventies, but he gave up taking pictures in the Eighties and became a guard and train driver on the London Underground and then worked as a welder in a Sheffield steelworks. He took up photography again in 1993 and returned to London in 1999.

Herman said: “At the time I was shooting these pictures I had no idea they would have some resonance in 2017. I didn’t take the photographs with posterity in mind, but as a documentary of what was happening at the time.

“I photographed people in the situations they found themselves in and I wanted my work to be realistic.”

Joyce McKellar, chief executive of Renfrewshire Leisure, which runs sports, leisure and cultural facilities locally said: “People coming to see this exhibition will be able to take a step back in time.

“These photographs graphically document what was happening to the working-class of the area during an acute economic decline.


“The exhibition will be of particular interest to Renfrewshire as quite a few of the photographs were taken in Paisley and Linwood.”

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

New funding plans revealed for £42m Paisley Museum revamp

A fresh set of funding plans have been unveiled to transform Paisley Museum into an international-class destination based around the town’s unique heritage story.

Councillors will next week be asked to approve a new approach to the Heritage Lottery Fund for £4.9m for the project, which aims to reconnect the globally-recognised Paisley Pattern with the town which gave it its name.

The latest application comes after a previous approach to HLF for £10m narrowly missed out in the latest, highly-competitive, UK-wide round of funding.

The project is a key part of a wider strategy to use Paisley’s unique heritage story to transform its future, including a bid to be UK City of Culture 2021.

The refreshed funding plans bring the total cost down to £42m from £49m, but retain the original vision of a visitor experience of international quality, hoped to more than triple current visitor numbers.

Renfrewshire Council has already set aside £24.1m from its own resources towards the revamp.

Members of Renfrewshire Council’s Leadership Board will next week be asked to approve the new bid to HLF and the revised project timeline.

The previous £10m approach to HLF was one of 23 projects making up a £235m funding ask – the largest request for grants over £5m HLF had ever received – with only £40m available.

Paisley Museum made it on to a shortlist from which only four were funded – but earned praise from HLF bosses for its vision and quality.

The plans include an extension to the existing Victorian-era building, creating extra space for internationally-significant exhibits including the world’s largest collection of Paisley shawls.

The proposed timeline remains the same – the museum would close in summer 2018 and reopen in 2022. Work to involve the local community in creating the content of the new museum would feature strongly in any UK City of Culture 2021 programme.

The museum revamp is closely linked to other investment in Paisley’s cultural infrastructure – work is well under way on £3.7m plans to create a publicly-accessible museum store on the town’s high street, to house items not on display in the main museum, due to be complete by end 2017.

Construction is also set to start this year on a new learning and cultural hub in a vacant high-street unit, creating a new modern and accessible facility and allowing the town’s lending library to move from its current home next to the museum.

The museum, store and library will all be operated by Renfrewshire Leisure Ltd.

Renfrewshire Council Leader Iain Nicolson said: “Our revised plans for Paisley Museum retain our ambition of an international-class museum for Renfrewshire.

“While we are disappointed the previous application to HLF was not a success, the feedback made clear the application was of high quality and had no weaknesses.

“In the end we were extremely unlucky to miss out in an unusually-competitive round of funding at a time where available money was very tight.

“However the important point is we now have a viable set of refreshed funding plans which can still deliver a project meeting the original aims.

“The museum project is one of several which will help bring new life and footfall into our town centres – helping create a new type of town centre economy and boosting local trade, while also capitalising on everything Renfrewshire has to offer and making the area a key destination for heritage tourism.”

Members of the Leadership Board will consider the new funding plans when they meet on 20 June.

, , , , , , , , , ,

Fun and laughter at marathon Bookbug session

TODDLERS had a marathon session of fun and laughter in the longest ever Bookbug session held at Paisley Central Library.
To celebrate Bookbug Week, Renfrewshire Leisure staged a Gigglethon in the library on Monday.


The theme of the Gigglethon was humour and children under the age of five, along with their parents or carers were invited to come along any time during the day to have some fun and a good laugh.
And everyone at the Gigglethon was given a free book, mask and sticker courtesy of the Scottish Book Trust.


The event, at Central Library is just one of several fun sessions being held in libraries and venues throughout Renfrewshire to celebrate Bookbug’s Big Giggle.
Joyce McKellar, chief executive of Renfrewshire Leisure said: “Our libraries are really fun places to go all the year round, but the marathon Gigglethon was extra special.”
Log on to www.renfrewshirelibraries.co.uk for more information about Bookbug Week sessions locally.

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Easter Star Wars egg-stravaganza at Paisley Museum

YOUNGSTERS will be heading for a galaxy far, far away with a Star Wars Easter Trail, at Paisley Museum.

ten-year-old Leia Brown, from Paisley at the May The Toys Be With You exhibition also on at Paisley Museum.

Along with the popular May The Toys Be With You exhibition, Renfrewshire Leisure has organised a host of Star Wars activities during the Easter school holidays.

The free Star Wars Easter Trail at the museum runs from Saturday April 1 to Tuesday, April 18 and there are Easter eggs to be won by those taking part.

Activities and workshops are being held on various days between 11am and 3pm and on Tuesday April 4 there’s a chance for youngsters to learn how to code on a computer with a Star Wars theme.

On Wednesday, April 5 kids will be shown how to make their own lightsaber they can then take home and the following day, they’ll be making their own Darth Vader, Stormtrooper and C3PO lanterns.

On Friday, April 7 the Star Wars activity is how to create your own Yoda Head Hat; there’s a 3D Death Star Game on Thursday, April 13 and Star Wars screen printing, on Friday April 14 and Monday April 17.

Chief executive of Renfrewshire Leisure, Joyce McKellar said: “Not only do we have one of the country’s best Star Wars exhibitions in Paisley just now, but we’ve got lots of exciting activities on the Star Wars theme for youngsters during the Easter holidays.

“There’s no excuse for youngsters feeling bored during the school break as they can take off and land at Paisley Museum for some great fun that’s just out of this world.”

All workshops cost £3 per child and need to be booked in advance at Paisley Museum. Log on to www.renfrewshireleisure.com for more details.

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Real-life Princess Leia launches Star Wars toys exhibition

A REAL-LIFE Princess Leia yesterday launched a unique exhibition of Star Wars toys and memorabilia that has come to Scotland for the first time.

Leia Brown, aged 10, from Paisley, who was named after Princess Leia, launches a Star Wars toys exhibition at Paisley Museum

Leia Brown isn’t just named after the space heroine from a galaxy far away, she was also born on May 4, which is known by fans as Star Wars Day – as in ‘may the fourth be with you’!


And the force was definitely with ten-year-old Leia when she got a sneak preview of the May The Toys Be With You exhibition, at Paisley Museum.

Leia Brown, aged 10, from Paisley and Star Wars toys collector, Matt Fox at the launch of the May The Toys Be With You exhibition at Paisley Museum

Shortly after Leia was born, her Star Wars fan dad, Peter persuaded mum, Paula to name her after Princess Leia. And after seeing the movies over the years she was growing up, Leia loves Star Wars as well.

The May The Toys Be With You exhibition is free and open from today, Saturday, March 18 until May 29.
The exhibition features one of the UK’s finest collections of vintage Star Wars toys, original cinema posters and memorabilia. It also includes fun family activities and additional Star-Wars related workshops during the Easter holidays.


Leia said: “I love everything about Star Wars and I’m always dressing up as Princess Leia. I’m glad mum and dad gave me that name.

“I’m really excited about May The Toys Be With You and being chosen to launch the exhibition. It’ll be great fun as it’s got lots of amazing toys and things about Star Wars to see.”

The collection of more than 400 exhibits and worth £100,000 is owned by 44-year-old Star Wars enthusiast Matt Fox, from Canterbury, in Kent, who was given his first Star Wars Darth Vader figure by his parents on his fifth birthday.

He said: “I can still remember sitting in the back of the car so excited and ripping open the packaging to get my hands on the Darth Vader figure.

“My love affair with Star Wars began when I saw the first movie in 1977 and from that day all I would ask my parents at birthdays and Christmas as a present would be Star Wars figures.

“This was in the days before we had videos to watch the movies again and again and the only way kids could recreate the adventures they saw in Star Wars movies was to play with the figures.

“My galaxy was under the dining room table!”

As a teenager Matt stopped asking for Star Wars toys, but years later, as a 28-year-old, he was in the loft of his parents’ home and came across a big box. When he opened the box he was amazed to see all his Star Wars toys had been kept safely by his parents.

“I looked into the box and it was like a golden glow of nostalgia beaming up at me,” he revealed. “It was quite an emotional moment and that’s when I started to seriously collect Star Wars memorabilia again.

“They say collecting is an illness and sharing is the cure and that’s what I want to do with this exhibition – let as many people, young and old, experience the same excitement as I have about Star Wars.”

One of the most rare exhibits on show at Paisley Museum is an original painting by artist Tom Beauvais, from 1977, as the poster for the very first Star Wars film.

However, his painting never appeared as the movie poster, as an illustration by his colleague, Tom Chantrell was used instead.

Chief executive of Renfrewshire Leisure, Joyce McKellar said: “This exhibition is a must-see for all Star Wars fans.
“It’s a celebration of the now highly-collectable vintage toy line and also of the iconic design work and art of the Star Wars movies.”

Paisley City of Culture 2021 Bid Director Jean Cameron said: “The Star Wars films remain as iconic and popular as ever and I am sure there will be huge interest in this exhibition at Paisley Museum over the next few months,

“That will bring visitors to the town and help raise awareness of Paisley’s wider cultural offer.
“Our outline programme for Paisley 2021 will be open and accessible, and will bring culture for all – and this exhibition is a great example of what that could mean. May the Force be with Paisley’s bid!”

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Funding boost means green light for £5m High Street library

Work to build a new £5m library in an empty unit on Paisley’s High Street will start this year – in the latest stage of the push to use culture to breathe new life into Paisley’s High Street.

Renfrewshire Council had already made £3.5m available for the project – and the final piece of the funding jigsaw arrived today with confirmation of a £1.5m grant from the Scottish Government’s Regeneration Capital Grant Fund.

The project will see the existing Paisley Central Library relocated from its existing home adjoining Paisley Museum to the unit at 22 High Street, formerly the Internacionale store, to form a new learning and cultural centre.

The move is part of a wider effort by the council to use culture to transform the fortunes of the town centre, taking place alongside the UK City of Culture 2021 bid.

Work is already under way on a publicly-accessible museum store in a formerly-empty unit at 9 High Street, due to open later this year.

And plans are moving forward for a £49m revamp of Paisley Museum into an international-class destination based around Renfrewshire’s unique heritage, which would bring an estimated extra 125,000 visitors per year to the town centre.

The library project will involve a major refurbishment of the building and a new shopfront but will retain the historic façade on the upper levels, in keeping with the rest of the High Street.

The new facility would be managed by Renfrewshire Leisure Ltd and is planned to be open by the end of 2019. A consultation with existing, lapsed and non-users of the current library last year showed they were mainly supportive of the principle of relocating to the High Street.

Renfrewshire Council leader Mark Macmillan said: “We are delighted to have attracted the money needed to top up the council’s previously-announced investment in this project.

“I am sure people will welcome the fact this is bringing an empty High Street unit back into use – the new library is just one strand of a wider push to use cultural attractions to transform Paisley town centre.

“Changes in shopping behavior have created tough times for traditional town centres everywhere – but we can’t turn the clock back and we won’t sit back and manage decline either.

“Paisley has a huge amount to offer in terms of architecture, heritage and culture – and we can use all of those to bring people here and generate the footfall through which existing and new businesses can thrive.

“The new library, the museum store and the planned museum revamp will all help do that – and if we were to win UK City of Culture 2021 we could look forward to one million visitors that year.

“But good things are already happening – with free public wifi on its way, a £5m revamp of the Russell Institute nearing completion and work to bring the former Arnotts site back into use as new flats and a restaurant.

“The library project is just the latest piece of good news on that front – and it will also provide a first-class learning resource for the area’s children and young people, with a greater range of new technology for 21st-century learning.

“And the new modern building will be fully equipped to offer improved physical access than is possible at the library’s current location.”

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Paisley celebrates International Women’s Day

A SERIES of events has been organised by Renfrewshire Leisure to celebrate International Women’s Day.


Tonight, Tuesday, March 7, at 7.30pm Paisley Arts Centre hosts a groundbreaking production of If I Had A Girl, which gives an insight into honour-based violence in ethnic minority communities in Scotland. A post-show discussion about the issues raised in the play will take place after the performance.

 

On International Women’s Day, Wednesday, March 8 there will be a free lecture called, Mighty Women of Science, in Paisley Museum, at 1.30pm. This will take an enlightening look at some well-known and not so well-known women who have changed and continue to change the science world.

And the same evening, at 6.45pm, in Paisley Arts Centre, three musicians – Linzi Clark, Heir of the Cursed and Marie Collins will perform.

On Tuesday, March 14, at 7.30pm Paisley Arts Centre stages the play Expensive Sh**. This tells the story of a Nigerian nightclub toilet attendant, working in a fictional club based on the Shimmy Club in Glasgow, who had dreams of becoming a dancer with the revolutionary band of the late Nigerian musician, Fela Kuti.

Tickets for ‘If I Had A Girl’ and ‘Expensive Sh**’ are available at Paisley Arts Centre box office on 0300 300 1210 or online www.renfrewshireleisure.com/arts.

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Museum store to bring new life to Paisley High Street

Paisley will soon be home to Scotland’s first high street museum store – as part of a wider plan to use culture and creativity to help breathe new life into the town centre.

museum decant team members Stella Hook,Joel Fagan, Cllr Jim Harte and, Archie Henderson

Work is well advanced on the £2.7m facility, expected to open at the end of 2017, which will house tens of thousands of items from Paisley’s internationally-significant museum collection not on display in the main museum.

The store will occupy the basement of the unit at 7 High Street, currently being fitted out, and will be accessible to the public via a shopfront entrance.

Stella is holding the Egyptian Shabti

The work is being taken forward by Renfrewshire Council in connection with Paisley’s bid to be UK City of Culture in 2021

Currently, a team is preparing and packing the items at an existing storage facility elsewhere in the town, ahead of the mammoth decant to take place later in the year.

Archie is holding the mediaeval cross fragment

And some of the team gave a sneak peek of the quality and depth of the collection to be housed in the store, by showing off items including:
– a ceremonial 5,000-year-old hand axe dating back to the Neolithic era;
– a fragment of a 10th-century medieval cross found at Inchinnan;
– a copper mould for a frieze of the Parthenon created by renowned 19th century Paisley sculptor John Henning;
– a Paisley tram driver’s badge from the 1960s;

Also on show was an Egyptian Shabti – a small sculpture buried with a person and expected to serve them in the afterlife – dating back to the 26-27th dynasty.

The museum store is intended to complement plans for a £49m revamp of the main Paisley Museum, further up the High Street, due to be turned into an international-class destination based around the town’s unique heritage story by 2022.

The completed facility will be managed by Renfrewshire Leisure Ltd, and Councillor Jim Harte, chair of RL, joined the decant team to preview the items.

He said: “Other places in Scotland have publicly-accessible museum stores, but this is the first time such a facility has been built on a High Street, and will bring a previously-empty unit back into use.

“High streets everywhere – including Paisley’s – have suffered in recent years from changes in the way people shop.

“But we can’t turn the clock back – we need to be creative in finding new ways to repopulate units, and bring in new footfall which existing traders can benefit from.

“The museum store is part of a wider effort to use cultural attractions to do that, along with the UK City of Culture 2021 bid, the plans to revamp the main museum – which we expect to bring 125,000 visitors a year to the town centre – and the relocation of Paisley Central Library to a vacant unit on the high street.

“It was great to meet the team behind the decant and hear the stories behind some of the fascinating items they are uncovering every day.

“Once opened, the facility will give the people of Renfrewshire a chance to see the full extent of the town’s incredible and internationally-significant collection, while also being a top-class educational resource bringing history to life for our pupils.”