Supporter Interview: Sigrid Kirk, Co-founder of ARTimbarc
Sigrid Kirk is a supporter of GI and the newest member of the festival’s Advisory Board. She co-founded the Association of Women in the Arts, is a Trustee of the Drawing Room, and sits on the V&A Development Board and the IKON Gallery London Advisory Board. She is the Co-Founder of ARTimbarc, the digital arts initiative which created the GI 2018 audio tour. Below, she speaks to Eilidh McCabe about her journey with GI so far.
Sigrid in front of Mick Peter’s ‘The Regenerators’ installation
Eilidh: First of all, how long have you been involved with GI and what kind of role do you have?
Sigrid: I’m a fairly new addition to the GI family, and it’s been a rapidly evolving journey. I started out by hosting an event for GI at our London home, joined as a supporter and now am honoured to have been invited by Director Richard Parry to become part of the GI Advisory Board.
E: What was it that first made you want to be part of GI?
S: My husband is from a large Glaswegian family, so it seemed very natural. Glasgow is the UK’s second city in terms of artists and creative energy. And once I started to discuss the programme and understand how the festival engaged with so many different audiences and parts of the city I was hooked.
But what really did it for me was when I went into a local bakery, 10 minutes before an event I was hosting, and explained to the owner I was expecting 40 women to talk about gender issues in employment. She bundled up all the remaining cakes in the place, loaned me all her trays (without asking me for a card or leaving a deposit or even a phone number) and gave me a discount of 50p per cake because “us women ned to look after each other, dear”. The people of Glasgow really are an integral part of why the festival feels so vibrant and warm.
E: Have there been any particular highlights of your time as a GI supporter so far?
S: Meeting and talking to the people who are part of making this festival happen and the cultural life of the city thrive: the artists, institutional partners and supporters.
The Linder dawn ceremony was a highlight; at 6.30am, a group of about 30 women gathered on the riverbank of the Clyde. The area the river borders is rather industrial, smoke was billowing out of a nearby chimney, and as the sun rose a little row boat appeared around the a bend with the Lord Provost on the oars in gold ceremonial chains, carrying a flag made by Linder to hang outside the Glasgow Women’s Library. It was a very special moment and summed up the small gestures and actions by artists that feel powerful.
Glasgow Women’s Library’s dawn launch of Linder’s ‘Bower of Bliss’ flag and exhibition
E: You’re the Co-Founder of ARTimbarc – can you tell us a little bit about the work ARTimbarc does?
S: ARTimbarc was set up to help cultural organisations to survive and thrive by harnessing the reach and power of digital. Essentially, we are an institutions echo; we amplify the stories of art and artists, ensuring they reverberate widely and reach both new and returning audiences.
We collaborated with GI to create digital audio podcasts that take visitors on a curated trail of the city, with Richard Parry and participating artists including Lubaina Himid, Tai Shani and Richard Wentworth, among others, talking about their work. The audio tour can be accessed via smart signage at locations all over the city, or listened to wherever you like.
As well as improving the visitor experience, ARTimbarc helps GI gather data about their audience and communicate with visitors. Building communities and advocacy for arts organisations is a key driver for us.
The ARTimbarc GI 2018 audio tour
E: What was the experience of working on ARTimbarc’s GI 2018 audio tour like?
S: It was an absolute pleasure and a privilege to be able to hear first-hand what artists were actually thinking about when conceptualising their work. Using nothing more than our iPhones, we gathered reportage-style interviews. We felt this approach suited the dynamic energy of a festival, which combines a commissioned Directors Programme with an open submission model.
E: And finally, how do you see your work with GI evolving in the future?
S: Firstly I would like to do more advocacy for GI outside of Glasgow – both in London and internationally. Both to highlight the incredible artists and organisations making work out of Glasgow, which of course GI showcases – but also to raise the profile of the Festival internationally.
I increasingly believe that some of the most challenging and exciting work being made and shows being put on come from outside the centre. Now that isn’t just a geographical position; it’s also social and political, and I feel that Glasgow can have a really strong voice in the larger discussions around identity, place and the role and support for artists in this.
‘The Regenerators’ by Mick Peter is an interesting example of a large scale commission which, in a playful and witty way, explored the power structures implicit in architecture. His 80-metre long hoarding, depicting the crumbling exteriors of buildings from different time periods, was built to cover the facade of an old gas purifier shed in the East End of Glasgow. Peter worked with young people from across Glasgow, but essentially the work is asking loaded questions about wider issues about regeneration, the transformation of a city-built heritage and where the new power and economic opportunities for people living in rapidly shifting economies might lie.
Secondly, with ARTimbarc I would like to explore legacy and the type of connections we can make with other audiences and institutions. We would like to be able to support an online community of people interested in art and ideas so that the issues raised by the festival (which, of course, is only viewable for three weeks) can go on. I think that is the power and beauty of a digital voice.