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Scottish Sculpture Workshop at Lumsden looks to the future as it celebrates its 45th anniversary

By David Porter

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Building The Clay Commons at the Scottish Sculpture Workshop, Lumsden which took place in November
Building The Clay Commons at the Scottish Sculpture Workshop, Lumsden which took place in November

The Scottish Sculpture Workshop (SSW) at Lumsden is marking its 45th anniversary year with a range of new developments and an ambitious programme. This Spring, SSW will transition to a new multi-vocal leadership model that will see current Director Sam Trotman joined by current Office and Finance Manager Sara Gallie to lead the organisation through the next phase of capital development of their site in Lumsden and a programme that centres community, artists and making process.

SSW is committed to improving the accessibility and environmental sustainability of its spaces in line with their vision of working towards positive social and environmental change and with this in mind having successfully secured funding from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund and from the Rural Communities Challenge Fund to support the further development of buildings and facilities, SSW will move to the next phase of the capital development project working with Collective Architecture and a specialist access consultant, Tony Heaton, to ensure users needs are centred and met.

This phase will include: converting and extending the bothy store into a new accessible bedroom and bathroom for residents, making accessibility renovations to the shared kitchen, landscaping the SSW courtyard including levelling access and ramping as well as extending the biomass boiler to the bothy in order to reduce our carbon emissions for this area.

Sam Trotman, SSW Director said: “It is game changing to us that for the first time in SSW’s history we will be able to provide onsite accessible accommodation and accessible kitchen facilities to both resident artists and our local community. We are excited to be able to move forward with our phased site development continuing our work to open up access to our workshops and facilities here in Lumsden. The extension of our biomass boiler is also vital in pushing us closer to our net zero emissions target.”

The Scottish Sculpture Workshop at Lumsden will see new investment at the site.
The Scottish Sculpture Workshop at Lumsden will see new investment at the site.

From April, current CEO and Director Sam Trotman will become Programme and Partnerships Director, and will be joined by Sara Gallie, who will become Finance and Governance Director. Together, the Directors will work through shared-decision making, lead their respective teams and jointly report to SSW’s Board of Trustees. Sam’s role will see them focus on developing a programme with artists and local communities, centralising their needs and ambitions. Sara is currently SSW’s Office and Finance Manager, and will transition into the dual Directorship with a focus on rigorous resource management and organisational compliance. The leadership triptych will be completed by a Technical Director in the future.

SSW are now recruiting a Technical Manager, with support for progression towards this role, who will focus on broadening technical pedagogy and growing workshop support and access alongside developing material/ working processes that supports an environmentally responsible future at SSW. This shift will enable SSW to expand the knowledge and lived experience of their leadership team whilst also providing a nurturing space to grow technical representation at directorship level.

Building The Clay Commons at the Scottish Sculpture Workshop, Lumsden.
Building The Clay Commons at the Scottish Sculpture Workshop, Lumsden.

The programme for 2024 further underpins SSW’s aim to expand the possibilities of what sculpture can be. By rethinking material and skills-based learning, this year the priority will be placed upon process and opening up the workshop space as a site for community, creativity and nourishment. SSW has welcomed their first subsidised Group Residency participants, with two more taking place in August and September. Fully funded Partnership Residencies continue throughout the year with the return of Residencies In Clay artists and SSW X Counterflows Caregivers residents this Spring. Joining throughout the Summer, alongside open access residents, will be the RSA resident and Ecologies In the Making artist.

The Community Making Space programme continues, starting with a series of talks led by Manourve, the Portland Inn Project and MyVillages. Later in the year, Sunday Making Sessions, Kids Holiday Clubs and community celebrations will take place. A new, monthly ceramic social will also be introduced this year, offering a regular free evening of clay making to the local community.

2024 also see’s the expansion of SSW’s ceramics course offering, with new courses including Introduction to Plaster alongside the popular Introduction to Throwing. Jenny Mackenzie Ross will lead a week-long course this autumn, focussing on Sculptural Kiln Building. As a continuation of the Building the Clay Commons intensive last November, SSW will further their collaboration with artist and researcher Eva Masterman through a series of online reading and peer learning groups. This is supported by a new Clay Commons Reading List, with all books now available to visitors in the SSW library.

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