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Fort William

project overview by Ali Berardelli

Working as a visual artist with community groups around the world I realised the beauty of working with video and time based work as the results are immediate and ideas and techniques can be explored with minimum equipment but with grand results, especially using big projectors. When I first started working with Highland Council as an arts officer in 2002, an opportunity to apply for funding from the Scottish Arts Council arrived on my desk and as the funding was for Social Inclusion Partnership areas, of which there are three in Lochaber, I decided to apply. The application was written between my colleague Roxana Meechan and I and we were successful in being selected for the rural award for promoting inclusion through public art. The following statement illustrates what I was hoping to achieve in this.

‘To engage young people living in SIP areas within the Highland Council area with Visual Arts Projects using mediums such as projection, film and animation where results are immediate and reflective of the participants interests and identities.’

The project centered on using new media techniques to produce artwork with young people living in Social Inclusion Partnership areas. The final product would then be presented first at a community sharing/ showcase event and then at a Highland wide event involving all the SIP areas within the Highland Region.

We advertised for artists to apply through a range of publications and the seven projects were to be residency based. We looked for visual artists who will be specialising in lens based imagery, projection, animation, film and photography. The artist in residence would facilitate the final screenings/showcasing of the work. A lasting site-specific artwork may have been the ultimate outcome of these events although it was not be a defined requirement of the brief.

Along with the artist there was to be the opportunity for a young person from each SIP area to become a trainee for the duration of the project. This provided an opportunity for development of technical skills in each area and encouraged the individuals to further their interests in the field of Visual Arts.

In some of the communities the trainee’s have continued their skills in video and new media work and two of the Lochaber based trainees are now in college in Glasgow and Edinburgh studying.

Each of the 7 areas was provided with the following equipment.

Apple Mac G4 Laptop
External hard Drive
Canon XM10 3ccd MiniDV Camera
video/data Projector
Final Cut pro editing software

All the artists augmented this equipment list with their own choices of equipment out of the allocated budgets.

This included; Wide angle lenses, Tripods, Digital Cameras, Colour Printers,
Graphics and Web software, DVD players, Cables, Extra disks, tapes and paper
Copier, scanner, fax machine, Additional leads, Microphone, Headphones.
The video equipment purchased for each community for the projects now remains in these communities. In some places the equipment has continued to be used in the youth clubs where the project happened and in others it is based now in community centres and video clubs have been established. In Fort William the kit now lives in Studio 13 in Lochaber High School turning this space into a proper multi media suite with full recording and editing facilities.

The idea to involve all the Social Inclusion Partnership areas in the Highland Region in the New Dynamics projects stems from a need to encourage more interest in the visual arts by challenging traditional constraints and produce artwork which by its transient nature can be presented anywhere to any audience.



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