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Desire Lines

Bellahouston Park, Glasgow, 2010-11

Day of install, Bellahouston Park.

Permenant public artwork, located in the south of Bellahouston Park, Glasgow (near the join of Mosspark Boulivard to Dumbreck road, Opposite Hazelwood School.)

‘Desire Lines’ was a self initiated public art project 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, I designed, made and installed a bespoke new 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.​   

This project embraced the different roles artists can take on, working within the public environment from facilitator to maker. It began with a curiosity to understand how Hazelwood School for children with multi-sensory impairments might make better use of the park on their doorstep. Exploring this through workshops with the pupils and by asking the questions it became apparent that they felt distinctly cut off from the park, a significant learning resource, due to the long walk round the fence to existing entrances. 


Further community consultation, conversations over the fence with residents from the GHA Dumbreck Court tower blocks of Dumbreck, demonstrated the lack of access was a long standing frustration. 


A number of temporary cardboard step ladder solutions were made and installed at various intersections along the bordering fence, as a means to explore the best location for a ‘potential gate,’ with the local community. These forms hinted at the possibility of finding a ‘creative’ solution to this problem.


Following this consultation I prepared a meeting between members of Land and Environmental Services (GCC), Glasgow Housing Association, (who own the tower blocks), and Hazelwood school, presenting my research. In generous response together they gave permission and funding to design and make a gateway. 

My initial designs, were presented at an event within House for an Art Lover in the Park, as part of the Glasgow International Visual arts festival 2010.  Following which I refined a final design - a simple opening inspired by a sentence shouted out of the 8th floor of the tower block one winters day when I was on site. The voice shouted “if you want to get out there’s a gap in the fence…” and a hand pointed to a small gap someone had made removing and slightly bending the upright bars, so you could squeeze through. The snow at the time revealed the ‘desire line’ of different foot prints made by folk who had squeezed through.

Keen on maintaining local value for the project, I was extremely fortunate to be able to work at the GalGael Trust in Govan, together with an 80 year old blacksmith to make the gateway. We made the piece by hand, in the traditional forged method and shared many stories and cheese toasties.

Following its final installation into the park, further support was provided to design a threshold stone to sit at the entrance and a wooden plaque detailing the project. Just before the opening event, with much sadness the local housing officer whom I had worked closely with passed away and as a small memorial another plaque was added. The local community raised the funds for 2 memorial benches they chose to locate next to the gateway.


The entrance and this corner of the pack remain well used today.

My personal big thanks go to the following people who helped to make this project possible;


Mark Beever, Justin Carter, Richard Collinson, Jimmy Cosgrove, Dennis Donnelly, Andy Elliott, Alex Gordon, Gavin Jackson, David Leslie, Tom McDonald, Peter McCaughey,  Julie McKenzie, Tam McGarvey, Monica McGeever, Lesley McGregor, Ryan McMullan, Pete Miller, Steve Rudd, Omair UlHaq, Ian Wade and Andy Waring.

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