Project artist John Mullen explores value of heritage in both Govan and Gdansk


Press release image (web)
Image: Colour photo of shipyard site by John Mullen. B/W image of former subcamp at Kokoszki. Archives of the Stutthof Museum. Photograph: A Leszczynski

Forced labour was used here…. Project at the Gdansk shipyard

On 26th August 2017, Mullen will present the proposal for initial design for the public consultation at the European Solidarity Centre (ESC), during the launch event of Incubator Solidarity Everyday, a new public space on the 3rd floor of ESC building.

Scottish artist John Mullen has designed a memorial sign to commemorate the victims of the WW2 labour camp that was located on the Gdansk shipyard premises. The site of forced labour constructing U-boats is now demolished and lies vacant awaiting development. Mullen will propose to the owners of the land to acknowledge this site of suffering with a permanent memorial sign which will consist of literary information in Polish and English language with archival photograph and site plans. The sign is designed to be around 2 metres tall in aluminium/metal form with printed information and to be installed on the site of the former U-boat halls 1A and 2A.

3. ‘Forced Labour was Used Here_ Collage design by John Mullen 2017
‘Forced Labour was Used Here’ Collage with memorial design by John Mullen 2017
4. ‘Public consultation at European Solidarity Centre_ display and design by John Mullen 2017
 Public consultation at European Solidarity Centre, Gdansk shipyard. Display and design by John Mullen 2017

The work has been developed through the Riverside Solidarity project funded by Creative Scotland which focuses on the waterfront heritage of the shipyard areas of Glasgow and Gdansk which are in transition. The work is intended to highlight unrepresented histories on the shipyard site and complement the Gdansk-based Metropolitanka project highlighting the various roles and contributions of women and their histories on this location.

The project is in its initial stages and continues Mullen’s research on the topic since 2014. As an on-going art research project investigating the selection and motives behind the representation of heritage and identity in post-shipbuilding communities, Mullen wonders what can be learnt from previous models of regeneration processes for the current transformation and focus of Gdansk and Govan (Scotland) and their futures. Questions remain concerning the tangible and intangible heritage of these places, and specifically, what and whose heritage should be preserved on these sites.

In the transformation of the former shipyard area Mullen aims to introduce constructive markers and dialogue for all parties involved including engaging the voice of community and to attract incomers to the area hopefully inspiring curiosity, solidarity, and cultural investment.

In August 2017, Mullen will also present the proposal with initial design to the owners of the shipyard, and the national conservation body of Pomerania asking for permission and endorsement for the work to be realised.




Websize plaque
Govan Graving Docks plaque designed by John Mullen 2017

John has produced a traditional heritage plaque that describes the history of the site, highlighting its a-listed status. He has embarked on a series of email correspondence asking for permission to install the plaque. So far permission has not been granted for various reasons including the fear that the work would be vandalised.

He will collate all correspondence and continue to pursue an investigation as to the meaning of ‘a-listed’ to all participants active in a site associated with an industrial past.

6. ‘Installation of Govan plaque_ John Mulen 2017
Installation of Govan plaque by John Mullen 2017

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