White Gold

White Gold

Sugar Sheds, Greenock

Loading article content

Mary Brennan


IN the stillness of a June evening, there's little to suggest that these mighty Sugar Sheds once thrummed with industry.

White Gold, the large-scale, community project that re-animated this A-listed relic blew the sugar-dust off local memories - but with an energy that kept mawkish nostalgia at bay, even when the locally-harvested reminiscences of war-time, hard times, the good times that came and went, were movingly spiked with mixed emotions.

Those who made this Culture 2014 event a proud reality involves a lengthy roll-call of high-end professionals - directors, designers, musicians, performers - allied to an up-for-it horde of local volunteers in greyed-out dungarees who became not just ghosts of the Sugar Sheds past, but living witnesses to the undaunted spirit of Greenock and Inverclyde.

Maybe the acoustic in this vast space didn't favour spoken text, but when the promenading audience stepped inside one of Becky Minto's white-shrouded "cubes", the meanings of each vignette were clearly conveyed in the visual imagery, the movement, the songs and the imaginative aerial work.

Despair and anger in a no-hope job interview, the whammy - delivered, literally, by body-slams against an airborne ceiling - of alcoholism, the raucous joie-de-vivre of family mealtimes where the 'white gold' put food on the table. As the space opened up, the war invaded.

Shadowy figures in great-coats battled invisible enemies, elsewhere the nurses folded sheets and wrote love letters to lads they hoped would come home. Episode after episode until finally White Gold became an anthem to the timelessly rolling billows of the river outside: the Clyde.

A remarkable effort, stirringly delivered.