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Tomiwa Folorunso (Executive Producer) and Natasha Thembiso Ruwona (Director) draw on Maud Sulter’s 1988 essay ‘Call and Response’ to reflect on the making of maud. (2022).

 

I don’t want to write a call,
or a response.

It feels like a pressure, an expectation. I do not want this. I would quite simply like to just be.

 

A call and response might be to ask and receive an answer, to exchange and listen.

 

To ask and receive seems entitled. But perhaps then like many things, it’s one of context, who is being asked, and who is receiving. To exchange and listen. This feels different – caring, less ego, less extraction, more mutuality. A willingness, to learn, to know more, to do better, to be told one may be wrong, and to be told one may be right.

Do you think Maud realised how brave she was? How brave she is. A bravery that transcends. Words spoken or written before we were born resonate in the now. On the surface it seems incredible but underneath should scare and sadden us, because if things had changed then her words would speak to what used to be, a past we couldn’t understand, not a present we can.

Brave then and brave of now, that is Maud. Oh how little has changed.

 

A braveness carried through and across truths, the bravery to name this knowing. She speaks to us – how little has changed – we speak of her, Maud Sulter.

It is through Maud I’ve found collaboration, and met collectivity. The co-authorship of a project that is me yet more than me – it extends beyond and becomes us, we, them, ours. I have learned how love can form the foundations of work, through friendship. As ‘co-conspirators’ to use Maud’s words, we have developed a space to share not only ourselves but an exchange that is grounded in passion, nurtured in respect and trust, an exchange of knowledge and experiences.

A co-conspirator. That’s who you are to me, and I am to you, I think. Conspirator seems apt because at the beginning when it was you and I silently whispering the thoughts and ideas that would become this, it felt impossible. To conspire was the only way. It is the only way.

And our gang of conspirators grew. Unexpected collaborations which remind me that it’s always bigger than us. It’s grounded in our shared but individual experiences. We have each stood on an edge, desperately searching for anything that we could hold to ground ourselves, to grow from.

 

Individually, together, we held imagination at the forefront of what we do, and what we have done.

A space of and for joy to become and breathe. A space to dream;

But what conditions are required for dreaming? It is difficult. To dream anew we need to face the world as it is, and to confront ourselves.

This silence you mention makes room for tuning in, being in this body, in this place that we call home. In this space of togetherness.

 

Joy. We laughed a lot. I think that’s what I loved about the making of maud. It was hard, and we were holding so much; histories, anger, resilience, sadness, all the heavy stuff. And we held each other with laughter, not to brush over the pain but because, I think, there was an overwhelming sense of gratitude.

Grateful to have found one another and Maud. Grateful to make a film, to play with, and stretch each of our creative practices, individually and collaboratively. And then to contribute to her memory, to add to her archive through our lens.

 

‘Being written out of history can happen to you.’

She knew of the dangers of visibility and the difficulties of archiving ourselves and each other. Maud was written out of Scottish history for so long, with only fragments of her life and work scattered behind institutional walls, her memory alive in those who knew her and who began the process of excavating these traces.

Through absence, I learned of Maud Sulter. In that space between uncertainty and knowing. I wonder about the possibility of being in a state of discontent which pushes you to challenge what is all around you. It welcomes bravery, because what is the alternative?

1) Sulter, ‘Call and Response’, 601.

 

 

‘Yes being visible can be dangerous. But being invisible eats away at your soul.’

I am both visible and invisible. Constantly wrestling between the two. Unsure which hill to climb. Maud suggests that it’s harder to be invisible, but I am not sure. Because being visible also eats away at your soul, or rather, it’s crushed down, so lightly at first and then you blink and it’s almost gone. So you must retreat, you must go inside yourself, to find the silence and tune in.

When you see yourself you realise how very few see you with such clarity, and so it feels as if you have no choice, but to force yourself out, and to become visible again.
When we made maud. I don’t think we were visible or invisible. We were the co-conspirators of our own path(s).

 

I am thinking about desire in relation to creativity. How desire is intrinsically linked to making – to create in response to the absence, or as a response to what we see, experience and know.

I think that we held Maud’s bravery close to us, guiding us throughout the project, as our own desires to hold a space for her legacy became real. This film is a labour of love which places ourselves and each other very much in the landscape that is Scotland – a conversation with the land. ‘No one will document our future but us’ she writes.

Returning to collectivity – we are the past, present and future.

 

‘As I have outlined, there are traces of a presence scattered like cowrie shells in sand. Signposts that indicate a past where we tried to transcend the labels of ‘otherness’ which left no place for the exploration of who we were as individuals, as family, as collectives across divisions.’

Natasha, I think we made a cowrie shell.

2) Sulter, Thin Black Line(s), p. 23.
3) Sulter, ‘Call and Response’, 600.1

Biography

Himid, L, et al 2011, Thin Black Line(s), Making Histories Visible Project, UCLan Centre For Contemporary Art, Preston.
Sulter, M. (2021) ‘Call and Response’, Art History Special Issue: Rethinking British Art: Black Artists and Modernism, 44 (3), 598-602.

Our What’s On guide for June to August has been printed with a host of exciting activities including new woodworking workshops and sound design workshops, in addition to our usual programme of health and wellbeing classes of course.

Click to view the online version

Click to view or download a PDF version

Out with the old in with the new – well not exactly!!! Here at Govanhill Baths Archive we treasure the rich, diverse, fascinating and ever-changing stories, people and events which have shaped the history of Govanhill Baths.

On the 28th February 1917, Calder St Baths and Wash house opened it’s doors to the public for the first time – watch this space over the next few months as we celebrate this momentous occasion.

 

 

Happy New Year!!!!

Very happy to share with you our two newly restored banners. Huge huge thanks to Ania Zapotoczna from Rags to Riches for the great job she has done. This ensures the banners will continue to illustrate the Save Our Pool campaign and the occupation of Govanhill Baths for years to come.

Paula

 

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Hola!!
Since our last blog I’ve been to London to the Community Archives and Heritage Group annual conference which was excellent!!! Got introduced to alot of really interesting archive projects including:
– Milford Street Bridge Project, winner of the Community Archive and Heritage Group of the Year.
– Khizra Foundation, winner of the best new group.
– Ryde Social Heritage Group, voted best Website – my personal favourite!
– Newlyn Archive, winner of the Inspiration category.
Then a few days later I finally got the chance to visit the Victoria Baths in Manchester. Great bunch of people who like Govanhill Baths are working towards reopening as a public swimming baths and in the meantime are using the building for all sorts of interesting projects. They have a wonderful archive which was set up at the time of closure and has been developing ever since through the work of the Victoria Baths History Group.
Back at Govanhill Baths Archive we’ve had a wonderful day with a visit from Helen Hughes, Textile Conservator with Glasgow Life/Glasgow Museums who came to advise us on looking after our banners. We’re also busy getting geared up for Doors Open Day 2015.
Come and visit us in the main pool where we will be displaying all sorts of materials from Before Closure, Save Our Pool and Govanhill Baths Community Trust. You can listen to oral histories, watch video testimonies about the baths, read and write in our memory book and have a look at the multitude of newspaper clippings from the Save Our Pool Campaign and much more……
So whether your new to the Govanhill Baths story or a former user of the baths, where involved in campaign or more recently please come along and take part. David Baumann, former team manager of the Zenith Swimming Club which was based in the baths from 1955 until 1974 will be displaying trophies, photographs, records of swimming championships and annual galas from the materials which he recently loaned to the archive. David will be on havd to chat about the history of the Zenith Swimming Club.
Oh and if your interested in volunteering for Doors Open Doors get in touch.

http://www.communityarchives.org.uk/
http://www.milfordstreetbridgeproject.org.uk/
http://www.everydaymuslim.org/#!khizra-foundation/cfyh
http://www.rshg.org.uk/
http://newlynarchive.org.uk/

http://www.victoriabaths.org.uk/