With the Phoenix Bursary, Glasgow School of Art’s Lost Works Rise from the Ashes
To overcome the tragedy, GSA opens up to the world.
The fire that devastated Glasgow School of Art’s iconic Mackintosh building last May (see “Glasgow School of Art Goes Up in Flames”) not only caused terrible damage to the institution, but also destroyed the artworks of many final-year students who were installing their degree shows when the fire broke.
In the aftermath of the tragic event, GSA has set up the aptly-named Phoenix Bursary, to which the Scottish Government has contributed £750,000. The aid scheme is designed to help 100 Bachelor of Fine Arts students affected by the fire to rebuild their practice. It provides them with up to 15 weeks in a studio, a weekly stipend of £315, and up to £1,000 for materials and academic support.
Out of the 100 recipients, 50 students chose to stay in Glasgow. The rest of beneficiaries have relocated to one of the programme’s partner universities.
“It was useful for me to position my work in a context outside of Glasgow,” Alex Kuusik, who has recently enjoyed a Phoenix Bursary at the Art Institute Chicago, told artnet News. “I have gained a great deal of momentum in the past months, avoiding the typical ‘slump’ that follows after graduating from art school. The bursary has given me the opportunity to make a new body of work with overwhelming support, and things may have been very different otherwise.”
There are over 20 partner universities in the program, including prestigious institutions such as New York’s Pratt Institute, Oslo’s National Academy of the Arts, and the Mongolian State University of Arts and Culture in Ulan Bator, Mongolia.
“Students submitted their own preferences in their application,” Sam De Santis, the Phoenix Bursary coordinator, told artnet News. “Some of them expressed an interest in certain universities based on prospective postgraduate programs or the art scene of specific cities. Our job was to accommodate their preferences to the best of our abilities.”
And the Phoenix Bursary could well have a life beyond this first “emergency” edition. “We are definitely looking into continuing the program in the future,” De Santis told artnet News. “It would probably have to be on a smaller scale. But we are really keen on fostering the national and international network of great universities and peers that we have established as a result of this initiative.”
The Glasgow School of Art will stage a special exhibition in Glasgow next spring to showcase the work created by the Phoenix Bursary recipients.
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