We are delighted to have welcomed two new Trustees to Wasps Board in March this year, Nikki Kane and Mhora Samuel, both of whom are Wasps tenants. We asked them both about their careers and interest in art, and thoughts on how we can help to support Scotland’s creative community moving forward.
Tell us a bit about your background…
NK: My background in the arts is a mix of curating, making, management and academia. I studied History of Art at the University of Glasgow for my undergraduate, then after a few years working in public art I completed my Master of Research in Creative Practices at Glasgow School of Art, which was a mix of practice and academic research and writing. I then spent a few more years working in cultural organisations, taking part in residencies, and curating various projects, including as part of the CuratorLab programme at Konstfack in Stockholm. I am now working on my PhD at Edinburgh College of Art which examines the notion of a contemporary art career and the role of festival and biennial in this, with Glasgow International and Edinburgh Art Festival as partners.
MS: I was born and brought up in Edinburgh and went to university in Aberdeen, then went south to work in London. I danced a lot in my early years and my father was an architect so as a family we visited a lot of buildings and historic monuments!
What are you passionate about?
MS: The value of investing in creativity, places, and sharing the stories of our lives to help find ways to look after each other better.
NK: I am passionate about working with artists and other creative practitioners to develop their work in a variety of settings. I am particularly interested in working in collaborative ways across disciplines or mediums, and in rich and interesting sites or modes of exhibition.
How did your career in arts develop?
NK: During and right after my undergraduate degree, I worked in internships, work experience and event-based roles in different cultural organisations, to try and get a broad understanding of different organisations and ways of working. This eventually led to a long term role working on large-scale public art projects where I developed skills and experience in project management and working with practitioners. At the same time I developed my own practice by undertaking a lot of residencies in the UK and abroad, and working on independent projects. I then joined the committee of artist-run space Market Gallery where I got to continue working with artists on exhibitions and other projects. I have continued working on independent curatorial projects whilst also working in more formal roles.
MS: I started out as a community-based dance choreographer and teacher in Scotland and Oxford and worked at Chisenhale Dance Space in London. I then ran performance, theatre and creative industries development organisations as Director at Total Theatre, Chief Executive at the Cultural Industries Development Agency (CIDA), and Director of the Theatres Trust. More recently I helped set up Creative Enterprise Zones in London for the Greater London Authority and managed implementation of Screen Scotland for Creative Scotland.
How did you discover Wasps?
MS: When I was running CIDA we organised the Arts Council funded conference ‘Creating Places’ at the Tate Modern in partnership with ACME Studios, Space Studios and Wasps. Securing artists studios and support infrastructure was an important part of CIDA’s work.
NK: I have been a studio holder in the Briggait since 2015, when I moved into a shared space after completing my Masters at GSA, before that I had visited exhibitions and friends studios, so was very glad to be able to move in myself!
What do you hope Wasps achieve in the next five years?
NK: Over the next five years, I hope Wasps can continue to support as many artists, makers and other cultural practitioners as possible. I hope that we can continue to develop how we connect with our various localities across the country and our tenants. I would also like to see us continually working to make the most of our buildings as spaces for cultural encounters through exhibitions and events.
MS: Continue to provide well managed spaces and buildings across Scotland for artists and creative organisations in a supportive and enabling way, including helping tenants develop, produce, exhibit, distribute and sell work.
What can people/businesses/public bodies do to support artists and makers in Scotland?
MS: Work with artists and makers, understand their intrinsic value and manage policies to ensure public funds and support continue to flow to them as individuals, collectives, companies and organisations and positively address the inclusion of those who face social, cultural, economic and racial inequality.
NK: Organisations and individuals can support the many incredible creative practitioners in Scotland by participating in cultural activity of all sorts – exhibitions, events, screenings, performances, sales, open studios are all opportunities to engage with the work being made here and the people making it. For those with resources and platforms, sharing and supporting creative work through commissions, materials, spaces and funding is key. And when connecting with artists and makers, trust and the freedom to experiment and work freely is really important.
Find out more about Wasps Team on our ‘About’ page, by clicking here.