Archive

The Great Eastern- Cross School Project

THE GREAT EASTERN- 23RD OF OCTOBER, 2012

After hanging the banner outside the site yesterday, we began to make progress for finishing the installation in the studio exhibition space. As I have had some experience editing photographs and I have all the software on my computer, I edited the photograph of the banner outside The Great Eastern we had chosen to be the one we would exhibit, to look old and as if it had been taken many, many years ago. I feel that I was able to contribute to the group well in a digital and photography type of way, with the making of the animation for the projection and editing the photograph due to my Course that I study. However, we came across a problem for projecting the animation. The member of our group who was getting the projector did not collect it and it meant that there was no projectors left for us to use. This posed a problem very late on in our process. We were also aware that we may encounter some problems that would be to hard and too much of a rush to fix if we managed to get one on the day of the exhibition, so we made a group, informed decision to remove the animation projection idea in case anything went wrong too last minute to fix and we had arranged our installation around it.

We hung the banner using wire in our exhibition space.

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Me attaching the wire holding up the banner to the metal poles in between the ceiling panels.

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And then added the graffiti to it.

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Me spraying painting the graffiti onto the banner.

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The graffiti aimed to bring our banner into present day. We decided to keep this simple, and did not completely cover it in graffiti as we felt adding any more text in the form of graffiti would take away from the main message on the banner.

After we realised we could no longer have the projector for our piece, we had a group discussion with Rachel and she advised us that if we could not have the projector we should keep it simple and have our piece show the statement we want to make simply. We then purchased a plain black frame to put the old looking photograph in to hang in our space. As we were caught off guard with the lack of projector, we were unsure as to how to lay out the installation to still portray the idea of the past; with the old style photograph, and present; with the graffiti and technology the projector would have provided. I sketched some ideas of what our final installation could be:

We decided to come back tomorrow to put the final touches on the installation before the submission at the end of the day.

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THE GREAT EASTERN- 22ND OF OCTOBER, 2012

We returned today to the studio and put the final touches to the banner. The letters were ironed on and the loops, needed to attach the string for hanging it, were attached to the back. Whilst the group was doing this, I began making the question mark animation, that we will project onto the banner in the exhibition space, on Adobe Illustrator and Movie Maker. It was proving to be difficult at first as there were so many different layers created for each question mark in Illustrator and in order for the animation to work, I had to create each frame for it by moving each question mark a fraction and saving a copy and then going back into the file to edit it and move it again. I felt I contributed to this part of the project very well as I spent a lot of time making the animation for the group.

This is the finished question mark animation, I created, that we will project onto the banner, keeping it on loop so it will play over and over again:

Hosted on Vimeo:  https://vimeo.com/52068278

And here are some stills from the animation:

After the banner was finished, we took it to the site and photographed it in front of The Great Eastern, making sure not to get any modern objects, such as traffic lights into the photo. The banner was successful in doing what we wanted it to do. As we left it up outside the building, many people passing by stared at it and stopped to look at it. People in cars when stopped at the traffic lights stared and talked about it to the other person in the car. It was thought provoking and that is what we wanted.

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Three images I took whilst hanging the banner outside The Great Eastern

THE GREAT EASTERN- 19TH OF OCTOBER, 2012

Today we started making the banner for our installation. We had to measure out each letter so it fit within the banner size and cut enough material for the border. We decided to use Bondaweb to attach the letters to the cotton. We firstly drew out the letters, the cut them out of the felt and mounted them onto the Bondaweb.

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We then ran out of Bondaweb and was finding it too difficult anyway, to attach the border to the plain cotton for the banner background using it, so we glued the border onto the cotton instead.

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We then positioned the letters onto the banner where they would be ironed down, but we decided to leave the ironing on until Monday when the glue on the border would be dry. I felt that the members of the group and myself, who were present for the making of the banner, worked together very well. We each took on a task to help make the letters and we ended up with an efficient system which made the task easy to do. However, we hadn’t anticipated the banner taking as long to make as it did, so we discussed what we still had to do and planned out the rest of our time.

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THE GREAT EASTERN- 18TH OF OCTOBER, 2012

We came back to the studio today after having thought over night about messages to place on our banner. After some discussion we decided as a group that we would use the statement ‘Love Thy Neighbour.’ However, we wanted to show the difference between the essence of community at the time The Great Eastern advertisement was published and now. We thought of ways of doing this. One of our group members had the idea of hanging the banner outside the site and photographing it and making it look as if it were hung there at a time the community was thriving and then hanging the photo in our exhibition space along with the banner. We the needed a way of showing the difference between then and present day though. Whilst discussing things which would make the banner seem more current and also make a bold statement, we came up with the idea of spray painting onto the banner. We would underline the word love and add a question mark to the end of the statement, in red spray paint, turning the statement, which was relevant and fitting for the older times, into a question for the modern times, therefore, questioning if this has been lost and if people really do know who their neighbours are and if they feel part of a community.

We then drew inspiration from the artists we had looked at, and from the original Great Eastern advertisement itself and I began to sketch ideas for the banner.

We decided on an old style simple font, in 2 simple colours for the banner, made in a traditional looking way. We then went a bought some thick cotton material and navy felt to create the banner.

We also had many other ideas of elements we could add to the installation of the photograph and banner itself, including projections of text and sound. Today, we also had a quick tutorial with Jason, we explained to him these extra ideas and he told us to simplify it and stick to one theme as there were too many ideas and simple would be better. We then discussed what we could project instead of projecting text and overcomplicating the look, as we wanted people to question themselves. I suggested the idea of creating an animation of moving question marks that could be projected over the spray painted banner in the exhibition space.

After this tutorial we began to prep the material for making the banner tomorrow.

THE GREAT EASTERN- 17TH OF OCTOBER, 2012

After some research we met again today in the studio. We firstly had a group discussion again about what our response could be to the site. We all liked the idea of using text, based on the advertisement I had found for inspiration. I personally liked the idea of focusing on a time in the building’s history that was a pleasant time, as I felt it would be very easy to create a piece which focused on very negative aspects of the building’s condition as a hostel and created a negative attitude from our group towards these conditions.

We had many ideas of what the message portrayed could be and we weren’t sure with what idea to go with. We then had a group tutorial with Rachel and explained to her our ideas. We had discussed using the text from the advertisement as inspiration, and we had came up with the idea of creating a banner, either asking a question or with a statement to provoke thoughts from viewers and make them think without the statement being too obvious.

We also took into consideration the fact that The Great Eastern was firstly built as a cotton mill, and from this we decided that our banner should be made from cotton. 

To help generate ideas we had went away from the studio yesterday to research into other artist’s work. As we had already came up with the idea of using banner or text, we looked at artist Ed Hall who hand stitches brightly coloured banners for trade unions, campaign groups and other organisations. I find his work to be particularly interesting as his use of handmade banners shows that old style banner making, popular in older times, is still relevant today.

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As we had many different, and some conflicting ideas, Rachel advised to have one clear message instead of many different ones. We thought about our intention, what we wanted to say and our audience.

We agreed that we wanted to make people question the idea of community. The area has been renovated a great amount in recent years and we felt that nowadays the sense of community, not just at the site but in general, is not as strong as back in 1911 when the advertisement for the hotel was published and The Great Eastern was lost as a place for the community to gather and socialise. So we wanted the people in the area to question whether or not they know people in their community, whether they are neighbourly and if they are aware of who they live next to.

Last night and this morning I asked people around me, my friends, family, other students, if they thought they felt part of a community, and if they knew all the people they lived next to. The answer to these questions were a resounding no. I asked older family members if when they were younger and growing up, they thought the sense of community was stronger than it is now. My Mother told me, ‘Yes, when I was younger living near Glasgow everyone knew their neighbours, you knew the family next door to you, across the road, and nearly everyone all along the street, but it is definitely different now, I think I know the names of two of the couples who live on our street.’

We began brainstorming ideas for the piece of text on the banner and I suggested the quote: ‘Love Thy Neighbour.’ I felt this was a very well known quote which was thought provoking and would make people think of what the statement really means. The group seemed to like this and we also looked at some more artists who use types of text, some also suggested by Rachel, to inspire us.

We had a look at the work of Barbara Kruger. She is an artist who works with text layered over photographs. She uses bold, thought-provoking statements. I found her work to be very interesting and inspiring as she uses very minimal colours, usually black, white and red, and usually her ideas conveyed in the work are not traditional which provoked me to think of whether we should go for a traditional, well-known quote like ‘Love Thy Neighbour’ or to pick something not as traditional.

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Three images by Barbara Kruger.

We decided to go away and come back fresh to the studio the next day, having thought about other questions or text we could put on the banner.

THE GREAT EASTERN- 16TH OF OCTOBER, 2012

I spent last night researching more into The Great Eastern site. I began by researching my given topic by our group, of artists who used the space to exhibit. I found that photographer Kirsten Scheuerl used the space to show her photographs featuring The Great Eastern itself and the men who still lived in the shelter up until it closed its doors in 2001.

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I find the top two photos, taken by Kirsten Scheuerl for her exhibition, portray a great sense of emotion from the men who are actually men that lived in the hostel up until it closed. They both have a sense of fragility and seem to give the idea that the men are reflecting on their time there. The bottom photo, I feel, creates a sense of loss as if something is missing. The stark room shows the very simple, minimal conditions they lived in and the absence of a figure in the bed creates that idea that something is missing or lost. I feel these photos are very relevant to the project we are undertaking at the moment, not only are they taken at the site, and feature the men who actually lived there, but they also portray the Project title of ‘Lost.’

Searching the internet I also found many BBC sites with articles from around the time of the closure of the hostel.

This article explains the history of hostel and it’s closure: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/1516083.stm 

One article, I found to be very interesting, as it featured direct quotes from a former resident who had experienced first hand the living conditions within the hostel.

He said: “The lice were crawling round the walls.” “The beds were saturated, soiled and had holes in them. They just treated you like an animal and it was a place for down-and-outs where they didn’t care what happened to them.” I found this to be particularly disturbing and saddening.

(Full BBC article here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/4143643.stm)

I wanted to see for myself the inside of the building at the time of closure. I then found photographs of the inside of the building

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Shows the long corridors of the building with the many cramped rooms coming off them.

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This photograph shows the very small windows the men had in their rooms and also the old run down flats situated across the road from The Great Eastern which are now replaced by modern flats.

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The image shows the toilets the men had to use and the bad condiion they were in.

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Some of the walls were completely covered in dry rot and the men had to sleep in the cubicle next to this.

I felt after reading this I wanted to find out if there ever was a time, when the building was a hotel, when it was associated with happier memories and did not always have this bad image.

I found a forum online where people could discuss The Great Eastern. It features a lot of personal accounts of experiences with the building when it was a working man’s hotel, before becoming the hostel. (http://www.hiddenglasgow.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=275&sid=e3bc99f25ff3e38e3e8b20e6d38fd66f)

One member of the forum claimed that in the 1950’s and 60’s the hotel was used by young men coming down from the Scottish Highlands to work in Glasgow. They said the restaurant situated in the hotel was still functioning and being used by residents of the surrounding areas in the mid- 60’s but the standards of the building had began to slip a bit.

On the same forum I found an advertisement posted by a member dating from 1911. The advertisement had featured in an old theatre programme for the Coliseum on Eglinton Street in Glasgow.

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Advertisement for The Great Eastern from 1911.

I find this piece of research to be the most interesting so far. The contrast between this advertisement, and the positive, social elements of the former hotel it conveys, and the run down hostel with poor living conditions it turned into, is one which I feel shows a severe loss of something enjoyable and joyous.

When our group met in the studio today we discussed the information we had found over night. Some members were not present at the discussion but we decided to put forward what we had found so far. We brainstormed ideas and aspects of the research we found particularly interesting and something which we felt portrayed a sense of loss. Each of us found the advertisement from 1911 to be quite a prominent bit of research and discussed how the hotel as a pleasant, social place had been lost. along with the hotel’s grand image and place for the community to gather.

We wanted to create a piece of thought-provoking work. We liked the idea of an advertisement or banner conveying a message and the loss of social aspects and community. The advertisement showed how sociable the building was. It was a place for the community to get together and the idea of raising awareness of this, of questioning whether or not the community still had a place like The Great Eastern any more, stemmed from that.

After brainstorming we decided to go away and research other artist’s to help our piece and come back the next day.

THE GREAT EASTERN- 15TH OF OCTOBER, 2012

Today at 10am we had our first Group Tutorial with our tutor, Jake. All three Group 2 groups attended this tutorial together. We began to discuss what we had initially found out about the site since we visited it. I spoke about the research I had found so far and also learned from other students information which I had not found. I found the group tutorial to be very informative and thought provoking. We then discussed  the building on a more emotional level. I felt that the building itself portrayed the idea of ‘Lost’ as most of the actual structure was lost during renovation and only the Victorian façade remained, but I also felt there was a more emotional sense of loss, in terms of the men who once lived here losing a place to stay. We also discussed how the building, before it was a homeless shelter, was a hotel for working men to stay in. The tutor also mentioned how other artist’s had used the building to display and make art works in. I found this to be rather interesting and I noted this down to further research.

The group tutorial left me feeling like again, I wanted to find out more about the building and how other people who remembered it as a homeless shelter and also a hotel, felt about it.

After the tutorial with all 3 groups and our tutor, my group discussed alone how we all felt about the building and what aspects of it interested us. We decided to go away, each with a different area of information about the building and find out more about this area. I have to look deeper into the artists who had exhibited here and the works they created so tonight, I plan on finding as much information as possible about the artists and also any general additional information regarding the site which may provide us with ideas to respond to in some way.