'Make a space...': the creative process

The creative process behind Lottie Whalen's exploration of the archive of writer Joan Ure and women in post-war Glasgow.

Lottie Whalen - Diary
Research documents and diary showcasing Lottie's creative process (Photo by L. Whalen).

Lottie writes:

For ‘Make a space for me’: Dreams of a post-war feminist city', I’ve wandered through archives – physical, digital, imaginary – in pursuit of the writer Joan Ure (1918 - 1978). Following routes well known to her, I’ve crossed the city by bus and travelled by train between Glasgow Queen Street and Edinburgh Waverley seeking to uncover Ure’s words buried in special collections and the papers of other writers. On my journeys, I imagine how Ure experienced Glasgow, feeling –as she felt – that the city is both a place to hide and a place to become more fully yourself, unravelling thoughts and memories as you walk its streets.


Lottie Whalen - Exhibition
Display of Lottie Whalen's work 'Make a Space for Me' at the M8 Exhibition (Photo by Pablo Llopis).

In her radical texts, Ure centres women in a hostile cityscape, upturning traditions of gender, national identity, and cultural hierarchies in the process. Ure envisions an alternative to patriarchal, post-war Glasgow a place that she felt was dominated by ‘the Scottish Soldier, the Scottish policeman, the Scottish Jack Tar’. Despite being haunted by the fear that people would only see her work as ‘unbalanced’ feminist polemic, Ure continued to write poetry and plays that made space for women in public life. Her writing reveals a unique, little heard perspective on mid-century Glasgow’s violent masculine culture and its effects on the reality of women’s daily lives. Ure’s female protagonists navigate an often-threatening city - sometimes loudly protesting their right to freedom, sometimes simply seeking private moments of joy.

In the beginning of this hopeful day a woman is building for herself a cage set on the through road of the city that fronts the theatre. She wears a sandwich board that soberly states: ALL I ASK IS FREEDOM TO BE HEARD.


The M8 Exhibition

Lottie also presented her work at Replace the M8 Exhibition, as part of the New Glasgow Society in December 2022.