Absent Voices is an artist-led project centred on the Scottish town of Greenock, telling the creative story of Greenock’s sugar industry. Using the category A listed Sugar Sheds on James Watt Dock as a catalyst, eight artists are working within the community and reaching out to the wider world. Absent Voices is principally funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The artists in Absent Voices are:
Alec Galloway, Greenock born glass artist & musician; Alastair Cook, an established Edinburgh-based artist; Anne McKay, a Gourock based painter and folklore archivist; Rod Miller, a Greenock artist and photographer; Yvonne Lyon, a musician & songwriter of international renown; Kevin McDermott, singer songwriter of Kevin McDermott Orchestra; Ryan King, glass artist and musician and Alan Carlisle, glass artist and recording engineer.
The Sugar Sheds is category A-listed building which sits at James Watt Dock in Greenock: this vast red-brick and cast-iron former sugar warehouse with its distinctive zig-zag exterior sits in the shadow of Greenock’s Titan Crane and opposite Greenock Morton FC’s Cappielow Stadium. It has not been used for sugar-making since the 1960s. Its doors were shut on sugar completely in the mid 1990s. Prince Charles is a known supporter of retaining the former sugar warehouse and even visited the building in 2002 to add his voice to a campaign to save it from demolition. Despite several attempt to demolish it and a fire in 2006, it has now been made wind and watertight and part of it is currently used as storage space. The building was used as a venue during the 2011 Tall Ships Race, which opened many eyes to its potential as a space which could be used for public events.