ShapeChangers: Public Artwork Project
“ShapeChangers is all about supporting young creative people in Alloa and across Scotland to transform journeys on traffic-free pathways through outdoor artworks. It is inspiring to see the pupils rise to the challenge to temporarily change their urban environment. Reachout and Alloa Academy have done a brilliant job at mentoring this next generation of artists." – Bruce Phillips, Network Engagement Coordinator: Art and Diversity at Sustrans Scotland.
We are delighted to be taking part in ‘ShapeChangers’, a collaborative partnership project with Sustrans Scotland and Alloa Academy.
ShapeChangers is a series of temporary outdoor artworks created by young people along the National Cycle Network in Scotland. ShapeChangers aims to support young artists and inspire people in Glasgow, Alloa, Greenock and Inverness to explore their local areas by walking, wheeling, and cycling on the National Cycle Network. Sustrans has collaborated with four dynamic organisations to bring this vision to life: RIG Arts in Greenock, Birds of Paradise Theatre Company in Glasgow, Highland Print Studio in Inverness, and Reachout With Arts In Mind.
The project is funded by Sustrans charity, custodians of the National Cycle Network working for and with communities to make it easier for everyone to walk, wheel and cycle.
ShapeChangers is supported by funding from Transport Scotland administered through Sustrans Scotland.
“We are excited to be empowering local young minds through this public art project along Alloa’s cycle paths. This project will not only beautify our community but also fosters a profound sense of ownership and creativity, forging a brighter path towards a vibrant, inclusive future" – Lesley Arthur, Executive Artistic Director, Reachout With Arts In Mind.
In August 2023 Reachout and Sustrans Project Coordinators met with Alloa Academy's Advanced Higher Art class, and Principal Art Teacher Mr Jack to introduce the ShapeChangers Artist Mentoring Project. We were immediately impressed by the level of commitment and talent each student demonstrated, and the range of interests and mediums they were exploring within the creative arts.
The project was looking for young creatives who are motivated to kick start their creative career, dedicated to attend workshops and complete the project and enthusiastic about making artworks for Alloa’s walking, wheeling and cycling paths.
Application Process and Artist Selection
The creative opportunity included free application process, art materials budget, voluntary experience opportunities with the Reachout community art studio for all applicants, mentorship from professional artists, support to make temporary public artwork and gained experience in engaging communities.
Following the application process, 4 young people were selected based on the fulfilment of the project brief,
Potential: the creativity and impact of the idea to make people stop, look and smile
Relevance: to Alloa’s wildlife we don’t normally see on the cycle path
Practicality: deliverable within the timeframe and longevity for outdoor display.
Shortlisted applicants include Olivia, Meja, Harrison and Isobel from Alloa Academy, based on their ideas to reproduce flora, fauna, deer, fish, foxes, squirrels, and birds.
Meet the young people behind the artworks:
Site Visit and Idea Development
During the initial stage the young people visited the Reachout studio to meet Jen, Lead Project Artistic Facilitator. Creative conversations commenced in relation to ideas they had proposed in their applications, and the significance of clay as the chosen medium, given its cultural and historical connections to Alloa.
The young people had the opportunity to visit pottery installations currently in Alloa, as well as visit the site where ShapeChangers work will be installed to help visualise how ideas may look in the space. They also met with and shared their ideas with internationally recognized local artist Walter Awlson for a pottery masterclass to assist with the complex process of creating public artworks through the medium.
Research and Further Idea Development
Next, with support from Jen, the young people began to research pottery and visual artists to take inspiration from their processes, plan creating a clay tile installation, learn and explore clay and glaze processes to enable experimentation and how to work with the challenges of clay.
To best develop their creative ideas they gathered colour studies, took photographs, considered textures and created drawings in their sketchbooks to further explore the theme of wildlife in Alloa. From this, multiple glaze test tiles were created, informed by chosen colours and textures, to help visualise how their final works would look.