When Angharad Llewis opened a gallery space in the bottom of a high rise block in Maryhill she was surprised by others’ surprise.

“If the question is why am I doing this here, then my answer is: ‘Why not?’” says the artist from Timperley, Greater Manchester. “Something I find odd about this scenario is that it actually makes complete sense to me there would be a gallery here. I don’t even understand why that’s questioned because there’s a huge concentration of walls here and a real concentration of people.”

The 45 year old, who lives in Quarrier’s Village, Renfrewshire, has transformed a space in the bottom of Torridon Court, a 23-storey Glasgow high rise, which looms over the M8 in the north east of the city, into a multi-purpose art gallery and performance space.
Named Kitchen Sink, she threw the doors open in October with her own show, Messages, loosely based on her experience of visiting a fishmongers while out walking in the Renfrewshire countryside during the lockdowns of 2020 and 2021.

Messages – a play on the colloquial Scottish term for shopping, and Llewis’ perception of how local chit-chat is served up in small community’s shops – saw her turn the space into a mock fishmongers, complete with stuffed fish and fake ice, presided over by actor David A. Allan, playing the role of a fishmonger. Snippets of gossip from 80s TV shows hang on the walls. She has plans to mount another show inspired by her experiences of working in an Italian restaurant in a neighbouring village. The gallery is part of the ongoing uplift of the area, driven by Queen’s Cross Workspace, a regeneration organisation seeking to boost the area by attracting news business into the tower’s disused units

“We have similar ethics,” Llewis says. “They have great plans for here and they’re starting that over the next few months. We’re people coming from different places but we’re on the same mission. They want to get rid of snobbery, I think. It’s not about numbers on a whiteboard saying they’ve put a certain amount of people through a certain system. 
“It’s about normalising this place. I didn’t know what to expect but half the people here are either refugees or PhD students. There’s a real mix. It’s been really wonderful to have different types of people coming through every day.”

Llewis’ approach to selling art in the gallery is not one that involves price tags and discreet red stickers. The stuffed seafood from Messages – all of which she made herself, by hand – was on sale for the price of the average bag of messages. She says: “I’m trying to show you can make a living. You can do it by making stuff and selling it. I went to Glasgow School of Art, but I’m critical of the situation in these places. You create a group of people who aren’t tooled up to be able to do this without getting money from grants or competitions. There’s a toxic environment, a hierarchy, and nobody has the tools to make any money.

“I can’t say what I am producing is of such enormous cultural capital that it is worthy of receiving taxpayers’ cash. I don’t have the brass balls to pretend that, so I’m rocking my own dime. But everything I’ve made at Kitchen Sink, I’ve been selling. I think that’s why the community here has got behind us – the regular people, as opposed to the people who normally come to this sort of stuff. Because art is for them. It’s not about treacle-y essays and post-rationalisation which makes things exclusionary.  It’s not about that. It’s for everybody.

“I honestly don’t think this place is all that far removed from what most traditional notions of a gallery are. A lot of static wall stuff going on, more recognition than output.”
Llewis’ own output is heavily influenced by the DIY attitude of those she saw making it happen in Timperley, outside Manchester.  I ask if Kitchen Sink owes anything to a specific gallery elsewhere, that has formed her own artistic outlook.
“Claremont Lawn Tennis Club in Timperley,” she says. “It’s where Frank Sidebottom and his band used to practice sometimes. We used to break in when I was a little girl and it was just over the garden wall.”

She includes fellow Mancs such as Factory Records and hacienda nightclub boss Tony Wilson, and the Happy Mondays, among her inspirations.
“There was never a process where I thought: ‘I want to do that’. It’s what we’re just like. The Timperley Massive. There’s a weird culture of just getting on with stuff, even if you don’t really know what you’re doing. That is what people are like there. People there don’t make conscious decisions to be weird. I think we’re just born weird.”

Llewis has a year of projects planned for the space, including one called Mrs Shandy’s Wind Up Clock Shop, which owes some formative creative juice to Laurence Sterne’s 18th Century novel Tristram Shandy, and the 2005 Steve Coogan film, A Cock and Bull Story, it inspired.
Her studio is already filled with template designs of what that will involve.
“The place will be filled with fake clocks, and actors being horny on clocks,” she said. “I can’t wait for that one.”

The Herald:

She’s designing two art books for release in January, Hold Me Closer Private Browser and  I Mistook My Boyfriend for a Thumb.  Glasgow based synth-pop punk band Brenda are next in line at the Sink. The band, on the influential Last Night From Glasgow label are Apsi Witanam, Litty Highes and Flore de Hooge.  Taking their name from the “punk attitude” of a worker they encountered in a Glasgow DIY shop, they’re described as “somewhere between The B52s, The Belle Stars and The Gun Club.” The Timperley way of doing things appeals to their ethic, says synths player and co-vocalist de Hooge.

“Generally, it’s very easy to find yourself in some scene having the same people coming along,” she says. “The same faces at the same places all the time. We’ve played certain venues a lot and we see the same people, so it’s good to make things accessible not just to your own community, to get other people involved. There shouldn’t be any boundaries anywhere. It’s easy to compartmentalise art and this is a really nice way to open it up to everyone and anyone.”
Llewis, of course, will be making, and selling, art at the gig on February 3, while Brenda make, and sell, the music. 

Kitchen Sink Presents: Brenda, February 3, 2024, Torridon Court, Cedar Street, Glasgow. kitchensink.art