Top Image: Desire Lines, by Hannah Brackston, (steel, oak, stone) Bellahouston Park, Glasgow, 2011
Hannah Brackston is an artist, maker and facilitator of collective action. Based in Glasgow where she graduated from Environmental Art in 2011. Her work invites public participation and interaction as a mechanism for promoting conversation and empowering communities to make new relationships with their environment and active contributions to environmental conflicts. Her artworks are developed through a playful, socially engaged and dialogical research methodology, directly informing the outcomes. In themselves these aim to function as catalysts for continued discussion and activity.
Hannah first worked with Art Gene in March 2015 as Artist in Residence on South Walney Nature Reserve, Barrow in Furness. Researching the reserve through practical experiments with materials and initiating slightly silly social events, such as a Sunday Cake Club. This residency period contributed ideas and input for Art Gene’s South Walney Hides design and the South Walney Masterplan.
In August 2015 Hannah began the role of Artist in Residence with a long term project – The Isle of Walney Community Growing Space : Allotment Soup. Established by Art Gene in August 2015, the project began through bringing together a muddy medley of local residents, families, artists, ecologists, children, archeologists, teachers, firemen and organisations. Vital contributors of the interests, experiences and skills they add to the pot. This is an on-going project.
Image above: Nith Scoping, by Hannah Brackston, (bike trailer, piping, tarpaulin), Dumfries, 2012
Hannah is one of the founding directors of Glasgow based Open Jar Collective. A group of socially engaged artists and designers operating within co-operative principles. Open Jar’s collaborative processes include hosting communal meals, staging unique pop-up events, research, workshops and exhibitions. The collective use food as a vehicle and common language through which to bring people together to take part in the growing debate about the future of our local and global food systems.
Since 2013, Hannah has worked with Open Jar to initiate and deliver a range of projects. From The Dairy House, which was a research and engagement project working with farmers and residents for the Environmental Art Festival Scotland (2013) to discuss issues around ‘supply chains’ with in the dairy industry in Dumfries and Galloway, through to a recent project Soil City. Launching at Glasgow International Art Festival (2016), Soil City is a long term project initiated by Open Jar Collective, which aims to reimagine the city as if soil matters. Soil City is a space for conversation, participatory research and knowledge exchange. By engaging with the citizens of Glasgow and a wider community of scientists, artists, activists and academics, Open Jar hope to gain a better understanding of the relationship between healthy soil and healthy people.
Nith Scoping was the outcome of a research led commission, Hannah undertook for The Stove Network programme, Inbetween:Dumfries (2012.) Following 3 months spent researching the relationship between people in Dumfries and their River Nith, Hannah developed a longer term exploration into how an exchange of knowledge can be generated around local conflicts that surround around water management in urban places. In particular in terms of River ecosystems and flood prevention. Nith Scoping itself became a performative public event, operating in the style of a street workshop, engaging passing members of the public in the physical activity of looking at the river bed of the Nith. A complex surface which is usually invisible, yet remains the point of local contention as Dumfries debates dredging its river. The project posed a suggestion that ‘surely it is more meaningful to experience and understand this thing we are debating?’ ‘The Nolly’ was a folding boat, towed by a bicycle which Hannah more recently designed with a transparent underwater viewing base, for one to one study trips under taken in the rivers and canals in Glasgow and surrounds.
Desire Lines was a self initiated public art project Hannah designed and developed from January 2010 until 2011. It is about access to land in the urban environment. Starting as a piece of research working with a local community to explore their relationship to the park they border the project became a lengthly consultation and negotiation process. It brought together representatives from the local Housing Association, a school, House for an Art Lover and Glasgow City Council Parks Department to resolve a matter arising from this research. This was the shared frustration felt locally at the lack of direct access or entrance to the park, which was simply the other side of a fence. With permission and support from the different stakeholders, Hannah designed, made and installed a bespoke entrance for the community which in its form reflected their stories of guerrilla interventions over the last decades to make gaps and remove bars, so as to climb through the fence.
Image below: The Nolly, by Hannah Brackston, Musselburgh, 2015