Sanctuary: Contemporary art and human rights (2003) #memories for Refugee Week 2013
In some ways it feels like a long journey since GoMA worked on Sanctuary, the first of our social justice biennials, but on the other hand it hardly seems like 10 years. Today our Saturday Art Club is part of Refugee Week and there is a continually exciting and growing programme in the city for this festival that the Scottish Refugee Council pulls together each year.
This blog is still in its infancy, but one of the aims for it was to be an archive of work we are asked about. So, to mark 10 years since Sanctuary, I have created a page for the programme in this blog and also updated some of the archive photographs over on the flickr page. We had already considered the idea of archiving and presenting the Sanctuary programme at the time. I worked with Lindsay Perth to create a CD-Rom of the whole programme, designed to be interactive and very visual. I still have some copies, but technology has moved so fast that these are pretty obsolete so this seems the most appropriate way to share that programme.
It was an exciting time for the gallery. New staff were joining the team and the Studio was converted into a learning and workshop space. The Library@GoMA was also opening and creating new possibilities for events and resources in GoMA. I joined as the outreach programme was starting in September 2002 and it was an exhilarating, if at sometimes intense, start to a new post and programme at GoMA. By the time the exhibitions for Sanctuary were opening in April 2003, the project has worked with four organisations across the city and their work was displayed alongside that of major international artists. The opening was fantastic with over 1200 people attending and from all over the city. It felt like something new.
Work from the outreach projects continued to develop and were exhibited in the Balcony Galleries until well into 2004. Sanctuary was shortlisted for the Gulbenkian Prize for Museum of the Year, now Art Fund Museum of the Year (and won the people’s vote much to our delight). The success of the programme, the feedback from visitors and the commitment of partners like Amnesty International and participants in the outreach programme ensured that social justice programmes were to become a core part of our work for the next 6 years.