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People are raging that an artist is being paid £15,000 to live in Glasgow

When she's not writing, Claire Gillespie can most often be found wiping snotty noses, picking up Lego, taking photos of her cat or doing headstands.

Artist Ellie Harrison's new project 'The Glasgow Effect' described as middle-class 'poverty safari'

From SheKnows UK
Creative Scotland is giving £15,000 to a London-born artist for her next big project. That’s a lot of money, right? Can you imagine the masterpiece she could produce?

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Ellie Harrison, a Dundee University lecturer, will be using the money to live in Glasgow and write a blog, on the condition that she doesn't venture outside the city for the entire year, except in the event of the ill heath/death of a close relative or friend.

Unsurprisingly, a lot of people aren’t too happy that £15,000 of public money is being spent on Harrison’s "durational performance", which she says will enable her to "increase her sense of belonging" by giving her the means to find and create "local opportunities".

What those "local opportunities" will involve, and how they relate to modern art, remains to be seen.

Critics have accused 36-year-old Harrison, who is getting a year off work to complete the project and actually lived in Glasgow for several years previously, of going on a middle-class "poverty safari".

And her choice of cover image for her Facebook event hasn't gone down too well either. (Perhaps because, contrary to popular belief, not all Glaswegians survive on a diet of chips.) 

Artist Ellie Harrison's new project 'The Glasgow Effect' described as middle-class 'poverty safari'
Image: The Glasgow Effect/Facebook

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The National Lottery-funded project, called "The Glasgow Effect" (a term used to describe the poor life expectancy of Glaswegians) has angered some people so much, they have set up mock websites and social media accounts, such as Robbie Seath's £15k Better Spent In Glasgow, which suggests several more useful ways to spend the money, such as buying 18,842 bottles of Irn-Bru, subscribing to Netflix for 2,500 months, making a donation to Yorkhill Children’s Hospital or funding an "actual art project".

Others have used Facebook to vent. Alex William McRobbie posted: "The funding of such a project both patronises and insults the poorest living within the city of Glasgow. I know of several young artists who haven't left the city in the past year as a result of financial pressures."

"Why not go in and around the city and ask people who actually do live, work and have generated an existence for themselves — not in the name of art, but as their actual lives?!" wrote Amanda Cameron. "It's a complete waste of money... and a slap on the face to the people living and working in Glasgow!"

Glaswegian artist Loki told the Daily Record: "There are thousands of artists who articulate what living in poverty is like. These artists are often marginalised. A recent study shows arts is dominated by middle-class people. This particular project epitomises that."

Loki has been inspired to set up his own counter-project, called The West End Effect, which he describes as "a decade long 'action research' project / durational performance, in which artists Darren 'Loki' McGarvey and Becci Wallace will investigate what living in a 'posh' area does to a person. Among other things they will live in Glasgow’s West End for at least a year at some point in the next decade to gain a true understanding of how this hostile environment affects people."

The West End Effect has already raised £72 and looks like it's going to get more public support than the real thing.

Following a slew of negative comments, Harrison later posted on Facebook that she was in negotiations with Duncan of Jordanstone College, where she lectures in contemporary art, "to donate the £15,000 to them in exchange for paid research leave in order to undertake the project".

"Glasgow has been my home for seven-and-a-half years and to suddenly have a response like this to one of my projects has been quite overwhelming," she said. "You have given me so much material to digest, it will take the whole year to do so. I hope to follow-up by meeting many of you face-to-face, when all the fuss has died down."

The artist also promised to "shortly publish" her full application to Creative Scotland "in the interests of transparency and to provide a more detailed context for the project".

A spokeswoman for Creative Scotland told The Metro: "Ellie’s project met the criteria for Open Project Funding to develop her practice and we await with interest, the outcome of her project."

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