We are sad to report that our art collection and archive, both of which date back to the beginnings of Room 13 in 1994, have been badly damaged by a flood of sewage in our premises at The Window, gallery and project space in Caol Shopping Centre.
The flood, which happened early in the New Year, was the result of a blockage in the drain further down the street. Under a build-up of pressure, sewage was forced out through the toilet in Room 13’s premises at the end of the block, covering much of the ground floor.
We would like to thank the local representatives of Scottish Water, who attended very quickly to remove the blockage. They also assisted and gave advice in dealing with the aftermath; as a result of their help it has been possible to contain the problem and assess the damage.
The art collection – canvases, works on paper and framed works, plus archive material, papers and photographs documenting Room 13 since its beginnings in 1994, were being temporarily stored in the Window following the emptying and demolition of Caol and Lochyside RC Primary Schools. The majority of works in the collection were created by young artists in Caol and Lochyside Primary School Room 13 studios between 1994-2016. Among the works were several large scale canvases that had previously been exhibited in major galleries in Scotland, and across Europe.
The Room 13 team and Board are horrified by what has happened and deeply upset at the loss of an invaluable and irreplaceable asset.
Room 13 International CEO Claire Gibb, has been involved the project since she was a teenager and witnessed the creation of many of the artworks, now lost, said:
“It is heart-breaking that so much of Room 13’s history has been destroyed. This is going to be met with huge disappointment and sadness, not just by the community of Caol who take such pride in the work these young people have created over the years, but our worldwide community who have followed and supported our progress for years.”
Gallery-owner and Room 13 International Trustee Andrew Sinclair said:
“We are taking advice from professional cleaning and restoration experts as to how many of the works can be saved. This is a case of appalling bad luck and bad timing. Up until a few weeks ago these works, which have been exhibited to international acclaim, were hanging on the walls of local schools. A comprehensive cataloguing of the collection was due to take place in 2017, with plans underway for key works to be hung in public spaces throughout the town.”
A full statement about the status of the Room 13 collection will be issued once the assessment of damage is complete.
We are thrilled to have received an award from Big Lottery Young Start Fund in support of our new ‘Generation Creative’ project.
The aim of ‘Generation Creative’ is to extend the benefits of participation in Room 13, and deliver our cornerstones of creativity, enterprise, arts and philosophy to greater numbers of young people in the Lochaber area, many of whom haven’t been able to access Room 13 previously.
The £49,490.00 award from Big Lottery will ensure the fantastic new Room 13 studio facilities in Caol Joint Campus are used for the wider benefit of the community, with a key focus on developing young people’s creativity throughout the region. This project will enable our lead artist Richard Bracken to work with children and other contributing artists to develop a programme of delivery for primary and high school students, starting January 2017 and continuing throughout the academic year 2017/2018.
In the course of this project, Room 13 will work with 10 primary schools in the Lochaber area to provide opportunities for children to work alongside professional artists and develop creative projects based on their own ideas and initiative. We will also develop and extend our youth volunteer group (aged 13-21) to involve students from the four local High Schools enabling them to develop their own ideas and projects, gain experience and build an understanding of the economic prospects of a career in the creative industries.
Room 13’s Generation Creative project aims to meet two Young Start outcomes:
Confident – children and young people have more confidence and skills.
Enterprising – Young people are better prepared for getting a job or starting a business.
‘The support from Big Lottery is a really valuable investment in Lochaber’s Room 13 studios. It will allow us develop key aspects of our work with schools and young people at a time when there is more demand than ever for the sort of services our artists and studios can deliver, with less and less provision to support this work. We are looking forward to getting ‘Generation Creative’ underway!‘
Claire Gibb, Chief Executive, Room 13 International
Room 13 International would like to pay tribute to Frances Gough, teacher and exceptional human being, who died on 31 December 2013 after a short illness.
Frances was Principle Teacher of Additional Support Needs at Castle Douglas Primary, prior to that she worked at Caol Primary School where, among other things, she became an active and enthusiastic advocate of Room 13.
She continues to be remembered with fondness by her colleagues and the many, many young people whose lives were touched by her fun and caring spirit.
‘In my working years, I have never met a teacher who had such a deep and caring understanding of the needs of our pupils as Frances. It was a privilege to work with her and to be inspired by her tenacity, care and intelligence’
Mrs McGrachen, Speech and Language Therapist
Putting people at ease, enabling communication and allowing the expression of individuality to flow naturally was one of her great strengths and nowhere was this more valuable than in her work with Room 13.
Frances was part of the team that travelled to South Africa in April 2005, to help set up the first Room 13 studios in the region. She was not phased by the challenge of communicating across cultural boundaries and languages. How to you break the ice with 600 well drilled, exquisitely behaved, polite, respectful and immaculately presented South African school children? Easy, with an impromptu Scottish country dancing lesion! In no time Frances had commandeered the school sound system to blast out some traditional tunes, and had the students up out of their seats and lined up in the school yard performing Strip the Willow!
This is just one example of the fun and spirited way that Frances worked her magic! In her 48 years, Frances played an important part in lives of many individuals and also contributed significantly to Room 13. We pay tribute to her on this anniversary of her death, and offer heartfelt sympathies to the family and friends who love and miss her.
On 13 Dec 2016, 13 TBWA offices around the world, including New York, Johannesburg, Berlin, Paris, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Shanghai and Singapore, simultaneously launched SIYEZA exhibition to raise funds for Room 13 South Africa, and boost the global profile of Room 13 International.
TBWA Worldwide President Emmanuel Andre explains why TBWA values the transformative power of ideas and creativity and backs Room 13 International as part of their mission to provide a creative outlet for under-privileged children in some of the world’s most disadvantaged communities.
“Talent and ability are evenly distributed across the human race, but opportunity is not. It’s our role and our future to detect, invest and promote the talent the world is providing.”
In October, a team of volunteers from across the TBWA collective participated in SIYEZA (meaning “we are coming” in isiZulu), a five-day photo-adventure across South Africa.
TBWA teams, led by Emmanuel Andre, visited five different Room 13 studios in the South African townships to teach photography skills to Room 13 students. In addition to his “day job,” Andre is an accomplished photographer whose portraits have been published and featured in galleries around the world.
The sessions aimed to unlock the talents of young people by giving them a rare opportunity to learn photography skills and explore their own creative intuitions.
The resulting exhibition includes photographs featuring the young people who participated in the SIYEZA project. Sales of prints and merchandise will raise funds to support the Room 13 studios in South Africa.
Inspired? Donate to Room 13 International to help us support the growth of creativity worldwide.
Poi Documentary film 2m45s Poi Artists’ Statement by Audrey O Brien – Download
A homage to John Cage prepared piano* by Lochaber High School S3 Music class; applying new and experimental ideas and methods to music, art and technology. The film showcases the pupils’ pictures and film, sound from field and voice recordings; sculptural objects, drawings and interactive artwork*.
Room 13 Artist in Residence Audrey O’Brien worked with the class to explore new and experimental ideas and methods to music, art and technology using new electronic touch board tool, which allows any surface to connect to the digital world by conductive material or electronic paint.
Over four class periods in May/June 2016 Audrey worked with music teacher, Mr Young and 17 young people to learn and use and create their own ‘instruments’.
Mr Young had previously taught the class about one of the major figures in the modernist movement in music, John Cage. The class studied Prepared Piano – in which Cage placed objects on piano strings to alter the sound when played. To reintroduce this method, Mr Young suggested the pupils experimented with objects on the school piano strings.
The project started by collecting the objects pupils had in their school bags that were conductive, adding these to a collection of conductive objects on a table in the middle of the room. The most notable object to emerge from a school bag was a ruby shoe! The metal studs recorded on the piano generated unusual sounds.
A series of field recordings were then made by pupils from their own environment.
Sculptural objects were made by cutting and bending aluminium wire rods. These small sculptures would form the main body of their ‘instruments’ and the surface to connect to the digital recorded sounds via the Touch Board.
The project culminated in a performance with pupils acting as both audience and participants as their handmade ‘instruments’ were played alongside an improvised musical score.
Pupils photographed and filmed the entire process, which is shown here in this short documentary film.
In the Poi Artists’ Statement written to accompany the film, Audrey O Brien explains:
‘The title Poi comes from a tradition of performance art using voice, music, objects and dance (originating from New Zealand). It also means object manipulation. I have used the word Poi as a symbol of young people shaping and constructing their own learning. I like to use materials easily changeable. In this project, aluminium wire rods were shaped to make objects in the instrument construction. I wanted to find a word that supported the idea of young people having more control of their learning experience.’
Audrey O Brien was appointed by Room 13 International to work with pupils and staff to develop and deliver a series of cross curricular projects and creative engagements at Lochaber High School. Audrey’s role, and the many projects she effected during her residency with Room 13, was made possible with project funding from Highland Youth Arts Hub and supported by Creative Scotland’s Time to Shine initiative.
A screening of this short film by S3 pupils (running time: 2mins 47s) will take place as a fringe event at:
Winter Wind Band Concert, Wednesday 30th November, 7.30pm at Lochaber High School
Tickets are free and can be collected from Lochaber High School Office.
Introduction to Poi
In May/June 2016 Room 13 Artist in Residence Audrey O’ Brien introduced Mr Young’s S3 Music class to an electronic tool called a touch board – this allows any surface to connect to the digital world by conductive material or electronic paint.
This short documentary film is a collage of the pupils work: pictures and film documenting the four week project; sound from field recordings and voice recordings; shaped objects and drawings and artist in residence pictures and sound for the film. The film focuses on an interactive artwork which took place on the final class with the pupils.
Poi Running Time: 2mins 47s
The word ‘Poi’ comes from a tradition of performance art using voice, music, objects and dance (originated from New Zealand). It also means object manipulation and is used here as a symbol of young people shaping and constructing their own learning.
This project was made possible with project funding made available to Room 13 a partner in Highland Youth Arts Hub and supported by Creative Scotland’s Time to Shine initiative.