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Shireen Exhibits at Kelvingrove

Kelvingrove becomes a living artwork as artists explore and share their creativity through ‘It is Is it’.

A group of young artists supported by Sense Scotland have been exploring, sharing and responding to the vast range of spaces and objects found at Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum as part of the Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art (GI). When asked to participate in GI, the art tutors engaged two groups of artists; a studio group based in the charity’s TouchBase day resource and a project group, which explored and responded to spaces in Kelvingrove. The collective happenings and exhibition were titled ‘It is Is it’. Shireen was one of the studio group whose work was displayed at Kelvingrove. We have supported Shireen through a range of services and activities since she was a young girl and we now support her in her own flat in Glasgow’s Southside.
The studio group created artworks based on their rituals and collections, which in Shireen’s case was a series of intricately rolled coloured threads, presented in small bottles and mounted on a number of pins. Shireen’s mum Belle Silavi explained how she heard about the project from Art Tutor, Gayle Calderwood:
“She explained exactly what it is and what Shireen was achieving and it was wonderful, absolutely wonderful. It was focussing in on her and what she does. She’s really involved and she’s excited and it’s really worked well.”
Belle gave some background to Shireen’s artwork and her interest in materials:
“She’s rolled like that since she was in her pram. She always managed to find something to roll. You had to watch what kind of clothes you put on her.she would make holes in them, bedding would have holes in them, carpets.she would even get your wallpaper off the wall and roll it. So she used to go about with a lump of toilet roll in her hand, rolling bits all over the house.”
“When I first met Shireen it appeared to me that she enjoyed art and was independent in her approach to art,” said Gayle, about her first sessions with Shireen. “Sometime later I set up a studio group of creative individuals and I began to notice these little balls being formed from lots of different things. I gave Shireen fabrics, she chose the ones she liked and set about freeing individual fibres, which would then be rolled into little elongated balls, which resembled little jewelled cocoons. The little bottles were from a geological equipment company and Shireen liked this idea, setting about collating and organising her collection. Shireen was very adept at threading these little cocoons onto pins.”
The art sessions and the exhibition at the Kelvingrove have been very important to Shireen, especially the video she saw of herself, as Belle explained:
“She said ‘that was her’ and she was looking at it and laughing. she explained to me exactly what she was doing, ‘she was rolling’ and then she was putting it in the bottle. That was good, getting the interaction back from her.and she clapped because she was so proud of herself. So it was great, fantastic!”
As Belle says, the GI project has given her daughter a real boost:
“It brings her so much enjoyment and brings her out herself so much. she’s wanting to talk about it, which is really encouraging. It’s lovely. I’m just so proud of her.”
There was then a final public event involving the group which had been discovering and rediscovering Kelvingrove throughout the winter via ‘live happenings’ which mapped individual movements and sounds, through time and space. This was a
lively culmination to the Kelvingrove visits which involved the project group and members of the public negotiating and utilising the spaces, sounds and echoes they discovered and created together.
Shireen’s work, along with a retrospective of the project can be seen again at TouchBase as part of a follow up ‘It is Is it’ exhibition from 23rd July to 31st August.
Thanks to Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum and Glasgow International for supporting this project.