Glasgow Effect project wants to ‘provoke a response’ and one artist’s response is it’s ‘a lot of waffle’

Dundee University lecturer Ellie Harrison whose controversial art project has divided the nation has said the aim of her stay-at-home venture is to “provoke a response”.

Ms Harrison’s ‘Glasgow Effect’ work will see her remain in Glasgow for a year in a move which she hopes will allow her to gauge the impact remaining in one place for 12 months can have on a person’s mental and physical wellbeing.

The left-wing artist regularly presents herself as being anti-capitalist, but nowhere has opinion been split more than in the city where she already lives and where her project will take place.

Often seen as a working class socialist city, ordinary Glaswegians have not always reacted favourably to aspects of the lecturer’s venture.

Residents have taken to social media to condemn her for launching a “poverty safari” and for belittling the city with her chosen title, The Glasgow Effect a phrase often used to describe the negative impact living in Glasgow can have on a person’s health.

The Courier attended a sold-out event hosted by Ms Harrison in Glasgow’s south side on Wednesday night to see what she and the people of Glasgow really thought of her £15,000 project.

When approached by The Courier ahead of the discussion Ms Harrison reiterated the relevance of her work.

She said: “People can get angry about it or they can support it, it’s up to them. I’m looking forward to tonight, but we’ll just need to see what happens.

“I don’t think it’s as easy as being against the project or being for it, it’s open to interpretation. It’s about provoking a response.”

Others, however, were not so quick to back The Glasgow Effect.

An Edinburgh-based artist who attended the discussion at Glasgow’s Glad Cafe insisted she was none the wiser as to understanding the inspiration behind the project and claimed Ms Harrison had not said anything of genuine substance during the two-hour meeting.

The artist, who asked not to be named, said: “I found it all very unsatisfactory. The room was fairly full and most were in favour of the project, but anyone who wasn’t was shot down.

“I tried to find out about the situation surrounding the funding, but I wasn’t given an answer. There was a lot of waffle, but no real explanation as to what the project actually was.

“I can understand the idea of wanting to create something like The Turriff Effect, where there may be a real social impact on the artist, but I’m still not convinced by the credentials of Ms Harrison’s work.”

Others we spoke to in Glasgow were similarly sceptical.

Brian Donachy, 42, said: “I think it’s an utter waste of resources. If someone wants to experience a year in Glasgow then they should get a job and pay for it themselves.”

And 28-year-old Joe Logue told us: “If her goal is a rounded appreciation of the best and the worst it would be commendable, but as it stands she is on holiday in a city brimming with culture.

“It’s just a one-year vacation.”

Creative Scotland has publicly endorsed the artist, insisting it has made its funding criteria clear.

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