Ellen Joëlle Dalzell
Ellen is a European artist, activist and community designer who has lived in Scotland for a longer time than any other place. When not writing, campaigning, making mischief and diverging from social norms you will find her somewhere deep in nature, conversation or hyperfocus.
THe phoenix project
Glasgow School of Art fires in 2015 and 2018
I was a Product Design student when the first fire at the Glasgow School of Art took place in 2015. My student life had taken place in the newly finished Reid Building directly across from the Mack and aside from choir practice in the woody, cosy, dark old basement lecture hall I rarely had occasion to properly appreciate the living, breathing design history of the place. And yet the fire was surprisingly devastating on a deeply personal level to a lot of rather surprised people like myself.
We all have experienced irretrievable destruction of something that has importance and value to us in our lives. Given this took place at a globally recognised art school I waited to see what staff and students would create in their shared loss and devastation.
As it turned out there was no creative outpouring from those connected to the art school. While unmistakeble symbols of gratitude were heaped upon the fireman statue at Glasgow Central train station in the days following the fire – an outpouring of thanks to the fire services and their tremendous effort to contain the fire and protect most of the building – the absence of creative engagement with the loss by the people most directly affected was both telling and concerning.