Imagined Spaces is a way of thinking through writing.
It started as conversations that became a book of essays which features internationally renowned prize winning essayists along with artists, educationalists, architects, and a range of individual voices who all begin writing with the question: What if... ?
What if I just start with one thought and see where it goes?
What if I take this tested and familiar idea and see what I really think of it?
What if I start writing with a question, a terrain to discover and explore?
What if I take the unknown not the known as my organising principle?
What if I follow my writing on the page and see where it might go?
And then, after I have written, who will I be?
These questions and more are behind the anthology, Imagined Spaces, to explore essaying as a way of thinking and being in the world. The anthology explores topics such as art, architecture, education, well-being, literature and more and has come about as the result of collaborations, discussions, reading and writing workshops that have taken place at the Royal Society in Edinburgh, at Hopsitalfield House in Abroath, at the V&A, a variety of venues in Dundee and Scotland, and also at Merton College, Oxford.
And this is just the beginning.
For the space opening up around this volume has room for so much more.
Imagined Spaces grew out of a conversation between Gail Low and Kirsty Gunn, writers and teachers of literature and writing, who had found themselves increasingly disillusioned with the way that education in the Humanities has, of late, taught students to instrumentalise education, instead of enabling them to explore and test, and question, and really think for themselves about their subject and interests. Effectively, essays became associated with assessment regimes in the schoolroom.
They resolved to create a new kind of teaching programme that would let students loose into the space of their own sensibility, creating a special set of enjoyable and stimulating workshops and exercises that probed ideas and mores in writing, and ultimately testing truths against the students' own spectrum of feeling and intelligence. They call this “essaying”.
Instead of requiring students to work to some pre-ordered standard, Low and Gunn encouraged experimentation, risk. It wasn’t always easy but increasingly they found themselves working with students who were excited and engaged by what they were doing and saw the benefit of their efforts played out in all aspects of their lives.
Low and Gunn took some of their ideas out of the classroom and into community groups that were challenged by social exclusion and are now refining them for online teaching.
As far as these teachers are concerned, essaying is education - offering individuals young people the opportunity to gain confidence and skills through being uncertain, unsure...
It's a whole new way of thinking about learning.
These Windows is a project imagined, planned and produced by a group of writers and illustrators who worked with artist Graham Johnston and writer Andy Jackson, and a team of educationalists at the V&A Dundee to create a unique and beautiful on line and print publication of essays... READ MORE
The Hospitalfield Workshop for Schools started with students and teachers from Angus, Dundee and Fife schools joining the roundtable on education and teaching in main conference, “Taking Ideas for a Walk”. Exchanges were frank and free on writing within... READ MORE
We are living in a strange online world. People, places, activities...
Ever since the Pandemic it seems that most of our time is spent in front of a screen... Talking to another screen face. So take time out – from work, responsibilities, school – to think about your on- line self in a whole new way... READ MORE
Kirsty Gunn is an internationally published novelist while Gail Low researches Twentieth Century Literature and publishing history, and is the founding editor of DURA . Their joint publications explore and celebrate new forms of critical and imaginative teaching, thinking and writing.
Beautifully designed and produced, the anthology is “like a conversation in your own room” - the perfect accompanying read, then, to the quiet in these socially isolated times. The book sets out to ask the ways in which our experiences can be really thought about, felt and/or reflected upon in words and images... READ MORE
Book distributed by Saraband Books. See the Saraband blog HERE
"An adventure, of sorts, this is" we had both said, thinking about RRS Discovery moored here at Dundee ― a gloriously rigged and sea-ready vessel with its high mast and narrow quarters that took Scott and Shackleton to Antarctica, for all the world as though it would take only a high wind and a breath of imagination for it to snap its rigging, and set off down the Tay again towards the wide open seas... READ MORE