As What We Do Now transitions towards an exciting new phase, those involved reflect on their experience.
Sian explores people-based narratives through a practice founded in documentary film and installation. As the emerging artist in Langholm, Sian looks back at some of the highlights of this time.
Why did you want to be involved in WWDN?
I wanted to be involved in WWDN as no explore my own practice as an emerging artist while working within my home community, Langholm. The themes and target audience on the project reflected my own personal experience of Langholm and I wanted to find a way to creatively respond to these challenges.
What has been the biggest challenge during phase 1 of WWDN?
During phase 1 one of the biggest challenges was managing expectations. Organisations had set ideas of how to deliver the project, while the community faced consultation fatigue and disappointment on delivery of projects. Navigating this was quite difficult as often the root of these issues are based within ways of working and ethics of practice which we struggled to define from the start.
What have you learned during phase 1 of WWDN?
I have learned to trust in the relationships within the community as a source of inspiration and hope in projects. I’ve also managed to learn some diplomacy when dealing with difficult situations within a project.
What impact has WWDN have on Langholm?
The impact to teenage residents of the Langholm area has been far more direct than that of its impact on the wider community. Over the course of the project we’ve provided a physical and digital space for young people to commune and create, as well as various educational opportunities, trip experiences, volunteering opportunities and a place to call their own. Although this may not have direct impact on Langholm as a place the mini projects that have grown out of WWDN and have the longevity to continue will shape Langholm’s youth culture along side Xcel for future generations.
How did you get in to this sector?
Like many artists it was a journey of interests. I began by studying a Foundation at Carlisle College, then moved onto Grays School of Arts to peruse Communication Design. It was at this point I realised commercial design was not for me and fell into film editing. This lead me to working as a commercial editor as well as a short stint for Red Bull Media House. This field how ever posed similar personal issues as commercial design which informed me in pursuing other content to create. Four years later, a lot of one of projects, failed experiments, some successful projects, a Masters in Creative Practice, a few more successful projects and here I am an artist.
What advice would you give someone looking to get into creative arts?
You will need a swimming pool full of self-belief and then someone there to help top up the swimming pool when you think your hard work isn’t paying off because being an artist feels like you’re constantly treading water. There is so much you’re not prepared for when you undertake this that you can’t let yourself sink because in the end it is worth being able to create and see the smallest impact your perspective can have on the world around you.