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Winnie Herbstein
Dampbusters

Fri 6 August — Sat 4 September 2021

Dampbusters is the third in a triptych of films exploring the past, present and future of community organising in Glasgow.

The film centres around the work of Cathy McCormack, a housing and anti-poverty activist from Easthall in Easterhouse. In the 1980s, a collaboration between residents, architects and technical surveyors developed an innovative method to cut the dampness and high fuel costs that were plaguing the residents. After initially being turned down by Glasgow City Council, the Easthall Resident Association were successfully funded by the EU for a full retrofit and solar panel installation on thirty-six flats in the area. By the mid 90s, the retrofit on the flats were complete and the weekly fuel costs dropped from £40 to £4.

Alongside Cathy’s story weaves other examples of communities that have fought for their spaces in the city. Take Root, a women’s self build group in nineties Glasgow, spent years working towards the dream of building their own homes. They fundraised, learnt to build and negotiated land; they went to training camps and worked directly with architects. The project got close, but was dropped by the housing association due to concerns that a new equality bill would deem a housing complex built by woman to be a contravention to men’s rights. The archives are stored within the Glasgow Women’s Library and as part of the new film, the architectural plans of each woman’s house has been reconstructed into a digital landscape.

Shifting from the past to the present, the film is interspersed by Slaghammers, a woman and non-binary welding group, who are finally moving into a new space. They were set up in 2016 to provide DIY metalwork skills to those who do not feel welcome in traditional workshops spaces. The new site, which will house a metal and wood workshop, will be in a former shipyard in the west of the city. The film traces the architectural mapping of this newly-claimed space alongside discussions around the group's organisational structure.

Looking to the future, under the watchful gaze of covid, the final element of the film will touch on the pressure facing community groups and their ongoing struggle to access space.