Glasgow Women’s Library has announced its 2021 Open the Door programme, the literary festival that puts women to the fore.
Inspired by Glasgow’s long history of bold, creative women, the theme this year is writers who are artists and artists who are writers, and GWL will be celebrating how they weave these two practices together.
Founded in 1991, Glasgow Women’s Library is the offspring of Women in Profile, an arts organisation that aimed to forefront women’s contributions to Glasgow’s history, life and culture during 1990 when Glasgow was the European City of Culture.
Now in its 30th year, GWL celebrates those women whose creative practices intersect between the visual and literary arts.
From workshops to nurture creativity, to convivial conversations to inspire and illuminate, the Festival will open the doors into the worlds of reading, writing and art.
Featuring contemporary writers and artists including Amanda Thomson, Kate Charlesworth and Sabba Khan, and spotlighting the work of historic writers and artists Wendy Wood, Edith Simon and Zarina Hashmi, the afternoon and evening events take place in a unique and accessible online setting that reimagines the more formal audience and speaker setting of traditional literary festivals.
Never before has Scotland’s literary scene been as energised and bold as it is today, and a large part of that is thanks to the brilliance of contemporary women writers like Val McDermid, Denise Mina, Leila Aboulela, Rona Munro, Jenni Fagan, Lucy Ellmann, AL Kennedy, Janice Galloway, Kerry Hudson, to name but a few.
The festival will be a landmark point of reflection and celebration, and acknowledgement of the unstoppable burgeoning in recent years of women in all literary fields in Scotland.
In that spirit, the festival is named for the writer, Catherine Carswell, and her ground-breaking 1920 novel.
The Open the Door Calm Slam – a safe space for poets who are ready to step out of the shadows and take their writing to the next level.
A series of In Conversation events, including between artist and writer Amanda Thomson and Shetland artist Amy Gear about the interconnection of the visual and the written in their practice. (This event is in partnership with the University of Glasgow.) On Friday 21 cartoonist and illustrator Kate Charlesworth and illustrator, writer and designer Shazleen Khan will talk together about their shared and individual art and literary passions and discuss how graphic novels can bring personal narratives to life.
On Saturday 22, graphic novelist Sabba Khan will be in conversation with Nyla Ahmad of the Scottish Book Trust to talk about Sabba’s debut novel, the intersection between art and writing and who has opened the door to them.
A Concrete Poetry Workshop – In this workshop we will take part in activities inspired by the work of several women concrete poets – no previous experience of concrete poetry required!
Stitches and Stories, a beginner-friendly creative writing workshop, led by Heather Richardson, where we’ll take inspiration from the GWL knitting pattern collection to learn about creating memorable characters and developing stories. Through an informal mixture of writing exercises, discussion and reminiscing, we’ll help our ideas on their journey from your imagination to the page.
Over the course of the festival we’ll be spotlighting the lives and works of three women artist/writers who are sadly no longer with us – Wendy Wood, Edith Simon and Zarina Hashmi. On Instagram we’ll be sharing works by level 2 Illustration students at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design who have responded to the work and/or life of these three remarkable women and created their own wonderful and engaging pieces.
The winner of the second GWL Open the Door Calm Slam will be announced at 4pm on Saturday 22 May.
Tickets are available from Glasgow Women’s Library’s website, womenslibrary.org.uk and must be booked in advance. All events are free to attend, many are open to all, whilst some are Women only. (All women only events and opportunities at GWL are inclusive of trans and intersex women, as well as non-binary and gender fluid people who are comfortable in a space that centres the experience of women)
Adele Patrick, creative development manager, Glasgow Women’s Library said: ‘We are so proud that since 2017 we have been able to add Open the Door to the array of literature festivals on offer across Scotland.
‘From the outset we wanted to make our annual festival fresh, inviting, and critically, open the door to new readers, new writers and to a wealth of women’s works locally and internationally whose recovery is overdue. The festival has grown and developed each year in innovative and creative ways ensuring that we go way beyond the formula of “writer plus interviewer equals book sales”.
‘We want to do all we can to promote publishing, writers and their work but we are also committed to making sure that everyone possible is invited to the party and that we provide a treasure chest of inspiring avenues to continue reading and writing beyond the festival.’
Dr Zoë Strachan, School of Critical Studies, University of Glasgow said:’Open the Door is a vibrant and necessary part of the literary scene in Scotland, and the Creative Writing Programme at University of Glasgow is thrilled to be partnering with GWL on an event this year! The digital festival will allow a wider audience than ever before to engage with books and ideas in a fun, friendly and feminist way!’
Open the Door 2021 is supported by the Open University in Scotland and the British Council.
For news, events and activities at Glasgow Women’s Library, visit www.womenslibrary.org.uk