Observations: The trebuchet: the best way to get in touch with the past


The artist Matt Baker and partner TS Beall have devised one of the most attention-grabbing events in this year's Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art. Today, an afternoon community experiment entitled "Nothing about Us without Us Is for Us" will see various local groups and organisations attempt to communicate from one side of the river to the other using medieval methods.

"The way that both of us work is in a very public, process-led, site-specific way," Baker says. "It's not about us going off and dreaming great dreams to plonk on somebody. We talk to people, we grow our project from the situation we find ourselves in."

Among the methods of communication being created and devised include miniature St Kilda mail boats, groups of flash-mob choristers, an Occupy-style human megaphone and – most exciting of all – a working trebuchet.

"Govan has had two great eras," Baker says of the depressed community on the south bank of the Clyde, which is the focus of the event, "the first being its early-medieval history, when Strathclyde was a kingdom which stretched all the way from the Clyde to the Solway Firth, and the second being the shipbuilding years."

The hope is for good weather, but either way the intention seems to be to highlight the way signals might be scrambled within and outwith a struggling area in times of economic hardship, and to emphasise how hard work and community organisation might yet pull through.

'Nothing about Us without Us Is for Us', near Govan Ferry pontoon and the Riverside Museum, Glasgow, today (glasgowinternational.org)