In March 2015, two artists from the Nina Collective and three Nina staff were able to travel to a disability arts summit hosted by Project Ability in Glasgow, Scotland. Filmmaker Yvonne DuBourdieu travelled with them and has recently posted a 17-minute film that beautifully captures their experience.
For three magical days, artists from ten international supported studios came together to share their practice, learn from each other and celebrate their creativity. Nina artists, Leona Clawson made herself right at home in the Project Ability Studios and Randy Stennes, fascinated with all things Scottish, sketched for six hours during the flight home. This once of a lifetime opportunity was generously supported by an Alberta Foundation for the Arts travel grant.
For the professional staff who also made the trip, it was an chance to connect with artistic staff and administrators from studios in Germany, Australia. Wales, Ireland, Finland and the UK. Artistic Director Paul Freeman, Exhibition Coordinator David Janzen and Director of Fund Development Rona Fraser took full advantage of the opportunity to share ideas and inspirations. We were proud to learn that the Nina, while the ‘youngest’ studio of those present, is also among the most ambitious in its projects. The Nina was also unique in its emphasis on working with other populations that face barriers to participation in the arts and its broader community focus.
The summit formally ended with a reception for It is Now, an group exhibition of work representing all participating studios. For Leona, Randy and crew, the trip ended with a blustery tour of the Highlands, eating fresh fish in Oban and a visit to Edinburgh Castle and the Scottish National Gallery. Yvonne, who hails from bonny Scotland, proved to be an excellent tour guide as well as trip videographer!
More than a year later, the film brings back memories of the trip. For Leona, whose memory is significantly impaired, seeing the film allowed her to resurrect already forgotten memories and experience the trip all over again. While Randy continues to draw on images from the trip in his drawings, Leona’s inspiration is more subtle. She began a series of embroidered scenes on fabric reminiscent of the Scottish landscapes absorbed during the trip. These in turn inspired Woooooodlands, an installation exhibited in the Stollery Gallery in February 2016. Check out next week’s blog to uncover the Woooooodlands story and meet the Stantec Artist of the year.