Members of the public are being invited to take part in free workshops which draw on Greenock’s rich industrial heritage.
For the last 10 months, the Inverclyde-based Absent Voices collective has been busy working on creating an archive which talks out the creative story of Greenock’s once mighty sugar industry.
By focusing on the Sugar Sheds, the group is creating a permanent record of the sugar industry in words,
pictures and song, which will culminate with an exhibition in Greenock’s McLean Gallery in November.
The following free community events will take place under the banner of Absent Voices.
• 11am-4pm, Saturday 30th August: FREE Figure Drawing Workshop at Greenock Art Club. Led by Rod Miller.
• 7.30pm-9.30pm, Monday 8th, 15th, 22nd & 29th September: FREE songwriting workshops led by Yvonne Lyon at The Beacon Arts Centre, Greenock. Limited numbers but all ages and abilities welcome. All songs written at the workshops will be added to the Absent Voices archives
Lead Absent Voices artist, Alec Galloway, said: “The tours and workshops are all free and open to anyone with an interest in drawing, photography or songwriting.
“We supply all the materials and the feedback from past Absent Voices workshops has been extremely positive. This is a great opportunity to get creative and to get involved in an important project which is seeking to tell the story of sugar in Inverclyde.”
You can sign up to the tours by leaving a message on www.facebook.com/AbsentVoices
, or emailing at firstname.lastname@example.org
Greenock-based Rod Miller has worked as a professional photographer for over 20 years and runs the photography department at Glasgow Dental Hospital & School. He also teaches photographic techniques at the Glasgow and Edinburgh Post Graduate centres for dentistry. In the mid-1990s, Rod started painting again, returning to a passion which he had nurtured growing up in Greenock in the 1970s and 1980s. He was a key player in Watersongs, a project established in 2007 as a response to the changes in Inverclyde’s traditional industrial waterfront. Rod continues to be inspired by his surroundings, especially the history of his home town, the wider Inverclyde area and as the people within it.
Yvonne Lyon is an experienced singer-songwriter and teacher based in Greenock. She recently graduated with a Masters in Songwriting and Performance from the University of the West of Scotland. Her most recent album, These Small Rebellions, produced by Wet Wet Wet’s Graeme Duffin was Iain Anderson’s album of the week on his late night BBC Radio Scotland show and has received extensive play on national radio.
Her music combines poignant lyrics with strong, creative melodies, demonstrating a voice that can be both fragile and intense. Yvonne has shared the stage with artists such as Patti Griffin, Karine Polwart, Beth Nielsen Chapman, Boo Hewerdine, Luka Bloom and Eddi Reader. She won the Burnsong International Songwriting Competition and subsequently sang her winning song, All Is Not Lost, at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh. She has appeared on BBC 1, BBC Alba and has had two sessions with Bob Harris on BBC Radio 2.
About Absent Voices
Absent Voices has been devised to explore and preserve in words, pictures, song and sound, the legacy of Greenock’s once mighty sugar industry. According to lead artist, Alec Galloway, by telling the story of the sugar sheds, hopefully a fitting creative use will be found for this Category A-listed building.
The artists are:
This vast red-brick and cast-iron former sugar warehouse sits in the shadow of Greenock’s Titan Crane. A local landmark with its distinctive zig-zag exterior, it not been used for sugar-making since the 1960s.
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.
Absent Voices activities taking place include:
• Working with local schools to educate and inform young people about the area’s history in sugar-making
• Recreating physical markers of sugar making in the sheds – such as plaques and pillars – in glass
• Songwriting workshops based around the songs sugar workers sang at work
• Recording the ambient sound of the sheds and photographing former workers in the sheds using traditional wet plate photography.
Built between 1882 and 1886 to designs by Walter Kinipple, the 700-ft long sugar warehouse was constructed in four red-brick sections with arches and pilasters in yellow brick. It is widely recognised as a prime example of early industrial architecture, with an unusual feature of a colonnade of cast iron columns forming a sheltered unloading area next to the quayside.
Currently owned by Clydeport, the warehouse now operates as a storage facility in tandem with the James Watt Dock Marina.
Absent Voices is supported by Heritage Lottery Fund, Inverclyde Council and Riverside Inverclyde It will culminate in November 2014 at an exhibition at The McLean Museum and Art Gallery in Greenock.