Deirdre Nelson: Artist in Residence 2010

2 June 2016

It is now 6 years since my residency at Wigtown Book Festival and many exciting things have happened since October 2010. The opportunity to be artist in resident in Wigtown opened up many opportunities for collaboration and developed ways of thinking out with my textile/ craft background. I have undertaken more residencies, been commissioned to make artworks for healthcare and collaborated with writers, musicians and architects.


I am currently artist in residence at Platform Arts in Easterhouse and also undertaking a commission with Wide Open for Orchard Grove mental health hospital in Inverclyde. I am just about to head off to Venice Architecture Biennale with architects Lateral North so my art practice continues to be varied and interesting.


I have spoken about my residency at Wigtown on many occasions and will present Wigtown words at the Small is Beautiful conference where I will be talking about craft and economy.  Fundraising, economy and exchange have become a big part of my work as an artist so Wigtown Words have played a part in this.


I must say I have a twinge of jealousy each year when I hear of a new resident artist. It was a unique experience and I have fond memories of my time there and the people I met.


Back in the day…my residency at Wigtown Book Festival 2010

I spent two weeks at Wigtown and spent much of my time harassing the public and writers for their favourite word. The words were collected and displayed in a small window in the main street of the town. The process was blogged and tweeted and many followers gathered as a result.  On collecting 700 words I then came up with what seemed like a mad idea at the time to auction Wigtown words on Ebay in support of a charity. The words were embroidered onto ribbon and put on Ebay. An exciting week of bidding raised 700.00 . The resulting sum provided many books for Ganets Adventure School in Malawi.


I searched for some while for a local school overseas which we could support. After Meeting Data artist Stefanie Posavec, she happened to mention her husband who supported a small school in Malawi. It sounded perfect. It is a small locally run School with a beautiful permaculture garden.  We raised over £700.00 for the school and I have been involved with the school ever since.  In 2013 I travelled to Malawi with Steve and Stefanie and had the amazing opportunity to spend time at the school. On returning I became a trustee.


Although still learning about the school and Malawi, I try to promote and support the school whenever I can. I fundraise and am responsible for a spot of creative brainstorming and social media. We are currently in need of new classrooms so have just launched a crowdfunding campaign.


Some of the learners are being taught in temporary wooden shelters. During the rainy season the roofs often leak, and the floors become flooded, making the classrooms unusable for many days each year. The children are currently being taught sitting on the floor in wooden shelters.


"The children feel very wet and cold when rain falls with heavy wind and when the weather is very cold. Children when coming to school from home are very smart and when they are in these classrooms the children are dirty because they sit on the dusty floor."

John Tchuwa, Standard 3 class teacher


Improved sustainability of the school depends on achieving full registration with the Ministry of Education.
Measured by:

  • The provision of eight permanent classrooms will qualify Ganet’s Adventure School for the Government licence to operate a primary school and a Centre number.
  • Once this standard is reached the school will be formally recognised by the Malawian Government, giving it significantly increased security in the medium and long term.


You can support our crowdfunding campaign by donating as little as £2.00 towards bricks for the school. There are a range of awards including special messages from the children at Ganets Adventure School.  You can follow progress through our Twitter @ganetsadventure and on Facebook using the hashtag #BricksChangeLives. We also have direct contact with Frank Banda our own correspondent on the ground and he is filling us in on up to the date Ganets news.


You can find our Campaign here