Inside the iconic Glasgow street art and graffiti festival putting young people first
Kicking off on Saturday at 11am, this year’s festival will also mark the grand opening of the Yardworks Studio, a purpose-built space made to provide a home for hundreds of young people, artists, and community organisations to create work in.
The festival brings together dozens of street and graffiti artists who will spend the weekend painting an open-air gallery of murals in real-time.
The ethos of Yardworks has always been to create an alternative model for those who want to build a career in art without going to art school, especially for those who come from disadvantaged backgrounds.
At the helm is Gaz Mac, director of Yardworks and SWG3 studio director. He has made a point of bringing together young aspiring graffiti artists with seasoned pros to learn from each other and the Yardworks Studio is an extension of that.
He said: “I think at the moment it’s going to take time for people to get used to there being an actual purpose-built space for them, they’ve never had that.
“The main attraction of this space is the Scottish winter, you know. Dark streets, dark alleyways and things.
“You can only progress so far on the street until you have to become that studio type. And guys that want to make a career of it, this is a really good starting point because we do have a lot of people from disadvantaged backgrounds that can’t afford studios, can’t afford art schools, this and that.
“This is a place where they come straight in and the facility is there for them. It’s a safe environment, it’s heated, they have special walls designed for them, and there’s people there to give them advice as well.”
Originally from Penilee, Gaz, 54, has been involved in the world of graffiti since 1984. He left home at 16 and travelled down to England before heading across Europe, meeting other well-known graffiti writers along the way.
His wide-ranging network of contacts has inspired the international appeal of the Yardworks Festival with artists from all over the world flocking to Eastvale Place to take part.
Gaz said: “These guys that I’ve travelled and met and bring them here back to Glasgow, it gives these young grassroots guys something to aspire to.”
It gives young people a chance to interact with some of their favourite artists in person and watch them paint.
He added: “It’s better than Instagram. They can actually see it getting done, they can see the techniques, and they can talk to the guys.
“You get these big names on these big street art mural trails, you know. Most of these guys are human beings and I think Yardworks does that to them.
“It brings them back down to earth and puts them in amongst everyone else and it’s just this big mix. Nobody has any airs or graces.”
It’s clear that Gaz is passionate about the work that Yardworks does and has built up a strong connection with the young artists that he’s taken under his wing.
He said: “I am extremely proud and I’ve got a big passion for it. It’s a huge part of my life. Every now and again I pinch myself.
“It’s maybe, check yourself a little bit and remember why you’re doing it. And remember that young guy that’s coming in the door that’s brand new here and keep that same enthusiasm.
“I think Yardworks Festival really helps that. The new studio really helps that, and pushing those ideals forward.”
For more information about Yardworks or to purchase tickets, click here.