THAT’S MONEY FOR OLD ROPE
ANGER OVER FUNDING FOR ART PROJECTS Architect is accused of wasting taxpayers’ money
An architect behind projects in some of Scotland’s poorest communities has been accused of wasting taxpayers’ cash.
Lee Ivett, 37, gets funding from areas such as Glasgow’s Milton and Govan – but critics say his schemes make no difference to people living there.
He is described as an “urbanist with a track record of developing transformational long-term projects”.
But Ivett was filmed telling a Dundee audience: “I go to places and attempt to make them a little less s*** than they are.”
One of his projects “Riverside Solidarity” is short listed for a prestigious Architects Journal award to be announced this week.
Last summer, Ivett and artist Ben Perry created a structure made from old ropes from Govan’s former shipyards. Ivett said: “Our aim was to metaphorically and literally cut out the ‘noise’ in Govan and seek a way of understanding the territory on our own terms.”
Ivett’s rope project lasted just 48 hours before it was set on fire by youths.
James Holloway, of Govan Community Project, said: “It lasted two days and then the young team who hang about the dry dock torched it.
“There was a bit of spin put on it, but it was really the youths saying how dare they come into their space. Often the only people often empowered by these projects are the artists coming in and making a name for themselves and building a portfolio.” Esme Clarke, secretary of Govan Community Council, said: “We’re very keen to look at the history of Govan but I don’t know if this was one of the best ideas or best use of public money.”
The Govan project was deemed so successful that Ivett travelled to Gdansk in Poland to carry out similar work.
He was backed by Creative Scotland, the University of the West of Scotland and the project also received £50,000 from the National Lottery.
Ivett is prominent in Glasgow’s Milton, an area blighted by crime and poor health.
His “Odd Numbers” idea in 2012 involved burying 365 small ceramic animals.
The project was a col laboration involving Ivett, artist Nicola Atkinson and charity Love Milton. At least £23,000 was secured f rom the Ar ts and Humanities Research Council.
The objects were buried on waste ground in Skerray Street “to create a permanent place of memory and a future place of archaeology”. Ivett had also identified the site for another project – a community centre, or “urban sanctuary”, constructed from beer cans, 500 tyres, 12 shipping containers, 300 pallets and straw bales.
The scheme secured National Lottery, Glasgow City Council and Scottish Government funding. Love Mi lton received almost £500,000 from taxpayers, mostly via the Scottish Government and its Climate Challenge Fund.
Further grants of £2.2million were also received. But the plan was mothballed when the council wanted £ 350,000 for the derelict land.
Ivett also created an outdoor “eco” classroom at Miltonbank Primary school in the area. It was made from a shipping container and junk. Work began in 2011 and it took four years to complete.
But due to safety concerns, Glasgow City Council ordered it to be demolished – after it was used only once by pupils.
Around £33,000 came from the Climate Challenge Fund to finance the project.
Scotland’s poverty industry is under the spotlight thanks to rapper Darren “Loki” McGarvey’s best- selling book Poverty Safari.
McGarvey – raised in Glasgow’s Pollok – criticised projects such as Ivett’s.
He said: “In communities which have been politically and socially excluded for decades, you can understand the scepticism when unfamiliar people turn up in their scheme using third- sector jargon, with what appear to be resources and funds locals can’t access.
“I can think of projects already based in areas like Govan and Milton which exist in a constant state of crisis regarding their long-term futures.”
Mi lton campaigner Alex O’Kane compared Ivett’s projects to Hans Christian Andersen’s Emperor’s New Clothes.
O’Kane said: “It’s like the story because we’re led to believe that only clever people can see the benefits of these projects, no matter how ridiculous they are.
“Fortunes are wasted on ideas that have no legacy for the community.”
Preston-born Ivett said: “The work in Milton and Govan doesn’t demonstrate or f it the Poverty Safari narrative described in Darren’s book.
“In both instances, I have made a longerterm commitment to the area either by being directly employed and managed by a local group or based my practice there and tried to invest in the place.
“Most of the work was just day-to-day making and building stuff to try and create more choice and opportunity for people who have been denied access to things that most people take for granted.
“At the point at which I knew or was told I was no longer needed within a situation, I always removed myself.”
PROJECTS Ivett building outdoor classroom, left, and with ceramic animal
ROPEY Lee Ivett, right, and a colleague used hawsers to build structure
SCEPTIC Darren McGarvey