4 January 2016
Many expressed further anger at the decision to name the project ‘The Glasgow Effect’ – a term used to describe the poor life expectancy of working class Glaswegians.
An artist has been given thousands of pounds of public money to simply live in Glasgow for a year.
But the move has sparked claims that London-born Ellie Harrison’s “durational performance” is nothing more than a middle-class “poverty safari”.
Scottish Government quango Creative Scotland is giving £15,000 to Ellie Harrison after she vowed not to leave the city limits for all of 2016.
The 36-year-old believes this will allow her to “increase her sense of belonging, by encouraging her to seek out and create ‘local opportunities’ – testing what becomes possible when she invests all her ideas, time and energy within the city where she lives”.
It is understood that the project will see her maintain a internet blog and that her whole life here will be a “work of art”.
Harrison was born in London but has already lived in Glasgow for a number of years.
Creative Scotland’s decision to fund her project was slammed today.
Many expressed anger at the decision to name it ‘The Glasgow Effect’ – a term used to describe the poor life expectancy of working class Glaswegians.
The project’s Facebook page is headed by a picture of chips.
The site was tonight littered with abuse from angry members of the public.
“It seems very short sighted to assume that what you’re doing isn’t already a reality for vast patches of the population,” commented Andrew Perry.
While another, Scott MacDougall, called the project “just a paid holiday”.
Another Facebook user asked Harrison, “I haven’t left my flat in three days, can I have some money please?”
Harrison – whose past work includes installing 12 giant confetti canons to be exploded in the event of a ‘Yes’ vote in the 2014 independence referendum – was accused last night of going on a “poverty safari”.
Glaswegian artist, Loki, told the Daily Record: “There are thousands of artists who articulate what living in poverty is like. These artists are often marginalized. A recent study shows arts is dominated by middle class people. This particular project epitomizes that.
“It’s horrendously crass to parachute someone in on a poverty safari while local authorities are cutting finance to things like music tuition for Scotland’s poorest kids. I don’t know the artist personally but I think we’d all benefit more from an insight into what goes on in the minds of some of Scotland’s middle class”.
Glasgow City Council leader Frank McAveety also seemed sceptical.
He said: “She aims to study what is termed the Glasgow Effect – the effect that staying in the city has on much of its population.
“Mind you it’s not that encouraging that the website for Ellie’s project has a picture of a plate of chips with what we assume to be Ellie pointing to it.
“The Poverty and Health projects in Glasgow are way beyond the ‘chips effect’ in defining Glasgow’s problems.
“Ellie’s project is centred on living in Glasgow and not leaving the city for a year.
“If she contacts our Poverty Leadership Panel we can put her in touch with legions of single parent families living in poverty who can tell her in minutes what it’s like to be poor in Glasgow and how that affects family health and prevents you from ever getting out of the city.
“That’s called the Poverty Trap. It shouldn’t take Ellie a year to discover it.”
It’s not the first time that Creative Scotland have faced a backlash over their funding decisions.
In 2011 the Scottish Parliament heard how the body awarded £58,000 to fund a dance programme on the works of Alfred Hitchcock and a trip to Tonga to study Polynesian dancing.
While last year’s decision to award less than half of the required funds for the filming of a Hollywood blockbuster in Glasgow killed the project.
The £15,000 is being provided by Creative Scotland through its allocation of lottery funding.
A spokeswoman said: “Ellie’s project met the criteria for Open Project Funding to develop her practice and we await with interest, the outcome of her project.”