Ailie Rutherford

Artistic Director of Feminist Exchange Network

Research Interests

The People’s Bank of Govanhill is a long term social art project on the theme of community currency. I instigated the project during a residency with Govanhill Baths in 2015. Now collectively run, the project works closely with local communities in Govanhill to map and re-imagine the local economy. Before seeking new solutions, People’s Bank of Govanhill looks for what is already working at the community level, identifying existing networks as well as gaps and opportunities for development. The Swap Market exchange project was devised in response to extensive research and development work with Govanhill’s multiple communities with a membership of almost 2,000 local people. As artistic director of The People’s Bank of Govanhill, I am developing working partnerships with academics at Glasgow Caledonian and Edinburgh Universities through the Swap Market project, bringing academics and local residents together in knowledge shares and exchanges, centred on the understanding that everyone is an expert based on their own lived experience.

Crypto-Knitting-Circles has been a year-long research project in collaboration with Dr. Bettina Nissen exploring potential applications of new and emerging technologies within feminist and community currency. Inspired by a shared interest in feminist economics and the potential for emerging tech to disrupt established power structures, this work centred around Swap Market in Govanhill. If we are inevitably moving towards a cashless society where machines and technology have an ever increasing impact on our lives, we want to know how we can do this in a way that empowers people, enables us to share resources across networks, and meet our needs rather than allowing technology to further disempower people and exasperate inequality.

I also work in collaboration with artist Janie Nicoll on the In Kind research project, which began in 2018, taking Glasgow International festival as a case study to explore the ‘under the waterline’ economy of the visual arts. We recruited other artists as co-researchers on In Kind to gather data on the economics of their own practices, map their local arts economy through digital technologies and co-develop a set of demands for action. This project explored ways of collecting, presenting and analysing data in a non-academic way, gathering both qualitative and quantitative data; displaying both via a peripatetic information kiosk situated within the arts festival itself. In Kind was subsequently presented at ‘Panic, It’s An Arts Emergency’, for Create London at the Barbican, London: for Axisweb at Kinning Park Complex; at the Scottish Parliament for the Cross Party Group on Culture; and at the Newbridge Project, Gateshead, for Newcastle University.

A recurring feature in my work is the use of playful and creative visual process to engage people in conversations about the social and economic landscape. I employ techniques such as printing blocks for mapping-making, performative and peripatetic work, sci-fi style future visioning exercises and games such as the Timebank Tombola, thinking of play as a means to radically re-imagine our collective future.

I am interested in the potential impact, use and subversion of new and emerging tech within feminist and community economies. In particular, I want to know how we could use these technologies to disrupt established power structures.