Interview conducted by Contemporary Arts MA student Camilla Nordgren who is on a student placement with GWL until April 2016.
Camilla: What drew you into the library?
Louisina: My two daughters suggested that I volunteer at the Glasgow Women’s Library. I think they saw that I needed something of my own, and I really did need something. I needed to be part of the Glasgow Women’s Library. To be honest I did not think I could work with the Library, I thought that it was only for artists, writers and all those intelligent folk, but my daughters encouraged me. I think I just thought that they wouldn’t have me, that I didn’t have anything to contribute, but after talking to Gabrielle in the Library I started thinking that I am good with people so that might maybe be something. It wasn’t until I went on a Heritage Walk that I really felt inspired to join and volunteer. During the walk, I truly felt like they were talking about me as I was a child of the Gorbals and I on many occasions bathed in the washing houses here in Glasgow. Hearing the women talk made me realise that I am a part of that history, that I am a part of Glasgow’s history. That made me feel like I, with the little knowledge that I have, could contribute. That I could help the library by just being involved and getting to know the women.
I think what drove me to the Library was ultimately that I wanted to learn more. I wanted to learn more about the arts, I wanted to learn more about feminism, I wanted to learn more about women, about women history, and about female only spaces. I see the library as an inspiring space which really enables you to interact and learn from a wide range of different people.
C: What made you want to work with Ripples on the Pond group?
L: What made me want to work with the Ripple on the Pond group was that I had gone to see the exhibition in GoMA with the library’s Seeing Things group and really loved it. I loved the story behind it because it wasn’t like other exhibitions. I absolutely loved that the focus of the exhibition is on female artists and their work, and I just felt that its connection to the Glasgow Women’s Library made it all the better.
C: How was working with the group?
L: I felt really comfortable working with the group. I felt like Helen [Project Coordinator] and Gabrielle [Volunteer Coordinator] chose a really good group. Even though some of the women had more experience filming than others, everyone in the group pulled together and supported each other. There was a sentiment in the group that we should all be very proud of ourselves and be proud of what we were doing both as a group but also as individuals.
C: What artist film did you take the lead on and why did that artist’s work inspire you?
L: I took the lead on Sarah Forrest’s film because I particularly liked her art work That Now, which was a moving image piece. I had previously seen her work at the Common Guild and had really enjoyed it. So seeing her work in the Ripples on the Pond exhibition was very exciting. What drew me to the That Now piece was the fact that I felt like Sarah Forrest was able to tell different stories with the one piece. I liked that she played with footage she had filmed while she was doing her residency in Orkney and then re-shot that footage with her home as the backdrop. To me it felt like Orkney was going through her house, and I liked that she used her own voice as a guide. I just loved the way she did the piece, and I loved the narrative behind it. It felt like a déjà vu, like when you go somewhere new but still familiar.
C: Has your view of arts and culture changed by getting involved with the library, and Ripples on the Pond specifically?
L: Art and culture have been a part of my adult life, particular because my daughters and husband are very artistic but I never felt like I could go to exhibitions or art shows on my own. I feel like I missed out on a lot because of this, but I think that it probably was not the right time for me then. My time to enjoy, appreciate and learn more about culture and art is now, my time to flourish is now. I feel like I have learnt so much, and I am much more comfortable looking up events, asking questions and even reading up on things on my own. So yes, I would say my view has definitely changed!
C: What do you want people to take from the films?
L: I want people to realise that there are incredible women out there who they do not know about, and for us these movies were a way of sharing those stories. These films were a way for us to share the work of some of the women who have touched us. I also want people to remember that we are not film experts. It is the Glasgow Women’s Library who has made filmmakers out of us. It is the Library who through their encouragement, has given us the confidence to not only get involved with the arts but to also get creative ourselves. I hope these films make other people realize that if we can do it, so can they!