Clyde community initiative marks the work of 20th century Scottish Novelist Naomi Mitchison

A public art exhibition celebrating the work of Scottish novelist, poet and playwright Naomi Mitchison will open in Glasgow this autumn, following free creative workshops with communities located on the Clyde estuary.

As part of the celebrations for Scotland’s Year of Stories 2022, provider of creative spaces, Wasps, the Clyde Fishermen’s Trust, and award-winning multidisciplinary artist Rhona Taylor have been collaborating with community groups in Carradale, Tarbert and Glasgow. The locations mark the traditional fishing route along the Clyde to The Briggait, which once served as Scotland’s largest fish market and is now operated by Wasps as a major arts centre. In each location, Rhona Taylor, who is also a Wasps tenant, has worked alongside local communities to explore and respond to different elements and themes present within Naomi Mitchison’s work. 

The resulting exhibition will be held at Wasps’ The Briggait, which now serves as a working home for artists and creators and features gallery and event space. Leading up to the exhibition Rhona Taylor has used Mitchison’s work with local communities as a focal point to encourage discussion around the historical relationship between the Clyde’s rural and urban areas, collecting responses and stories about the history of this relationship and how it might develop in the future. 

Naomi Mitchison was a prolific novelist, poet and playwright whose body of work spans an entire century, encompassing an array of genres and formats, including children’s literature, feminist science fiction and a semi-autobiographical play. Her work was ahead of its time, exploring themes of self-determinism and equality across gender, race and class.
Mitchison spent the latter half of her life in Carradale, where she was heavily involved in local life and the politics of the small fishing communities of the Clyde. She worked as a farmer and fisherwoman, skippering her fishing boat, the Maid of Morvern, and wrote extensively about her experience of living and working within a small fishing community.

The exhibition at Wasps’ The Briggait opens on Sunday 18 September, will be free to attend, and will feature a collective sculptural installation incorporating the creative contributions of the community groups. It is intended to weave together responses to the themes of community, self-determinism, equality and collective action present in Mitchison’s life and work.

Artist and Wasps tenant Rhona Taylor: “It’s brilliant to be working with the Clyde Fishermen’s Trust and Wasps to focus on Naomi Mitchison for the Year of Stories. Naomi Mitchison wasn’t just a prolific writer, but was a lifelong campaigner and also did some amazing work bringing contemporary artworks to schools in Argyll. She believed that art shouldn’t be confined to big cities, which I couldn’t agree more about. She had an incredible life, and lived much of it in Carradale, so it’s great and very fitting to be working with people in her local communities on this project.”

Jonathan Walker of Clyde Fishermen’s Trust: “The Clyde Fishermen’s Trust are delighted to be working in partnership with Wasps and the artist Rhona Taylor to celebrate the life and work of Scottish novelist Naomi Mitchison as part of the Year of Stories 2022 Community Stories Fund. We are excited to work alongside the communities in which Naomi lived, exploring the themes present in her work and responding creatively through participatory art workshops.”

Marie Christie, Head of Development at VisitScotland said: “We are delighted to be supporting Clyde Fisherman’s Trust project through the Year of Stories 2022 Community Stories Fund. Events play an important role in our communities as they sustain livelihoods and help to celebrate and promote our unique places, spaces, and stories. Themed Years are all about collaboration and Museums Galleries Scotland, National Lottery Heritage Fund and VisitScotland are pleased to work in partnership to create this fund to showcase community stories. By supporting events taking place within our communities, including the Clyde Fisherman’s Trust project, new opportunities with be provided for locals and visitors to come together and find out more about the diverse stories, past and present, that our communities have to share.” 

This event has been supported by the Year of Stories 2022 Community Stories Fund. This fund is being delivered in partnership between VisitScotland and Museums Galleries Scotland with support from National Lottery Heritage Fund thanks to National Lottery players.