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Tessa Lynch, sculptor: 'You meet interesting people in Glasgow who make you want to up your game'


Tessa Lynch works in a small room in the Glasgow Sculpture Studios, a prestigious collection of artists who have banded together to share overheads and facilities for fabrication. Until recently the studio was in a shabby inner-city building, but they have now moved to the capacious – if somewhat impersonal – concrete cube, a former whisky warehouse just on the outskirts of the city.

Lynch was awarded the Gordon Foundation MFA Graduate Fellowship, which entitles her to a small studio and a solo show in the gallery at the end of the year. The building has many occupants but she admits they don't socialise much. She was, therefore, lucky to start out by working in the bar serving coffee, where she got to know many of the other occupants by face – and how they liked their coffee, at least.

Her appointment was fortuitous as she was to receive a commission by Generation, Scotland (a series of exhibitions celebrating 25 years of Scottish art) for Raising, a work to be shown at Jupiter Artland, the bespoke sculpture park near Edinburgh.

Lynch says that the sculpture studio workshops were great, helping her to fabricate the large modular pieces that would form her performance piece at Jupiter. Every two weeks during the course of the summer, volunteers participate in a "house raising", discussing all the issues of self-build, as close to a real building project as possible, down to reflective vests and hard hats. The resulting structure, different each time, "is kept up for two weeks and then dismantled; it is like the ever-changing city. It looks like it is at the beginning, but also looks like it is at the end of its life."

Lynch says: "Nicky and Robert [Wilson, the owners of Jupiter Artland] are taking a big risk with me. At the first performance, Nicky looked out of her window and saw a house being raised on her land." Lynch based her design on Modernism meets Charles Rennie Mackintosh and British Tudor. The first performance led to much discussion, as the volunteers took on the roles of both building and design choices. This is a piece to challenge the idea of cooperative self-build and land-share – hopefully, it will lead to more discussion among participants.

Jupiter Artland's long list of distinguished residents includes Antony Gormley, Anish Kapoor, Ian Hamilton Finlay, Andy Goldsworthy and Cornelia Parker, with younger Scottish artists including Jim Lambie and Nathan Coley. Lynch does not seem to be intimidated by her august company. Born in Epsom in 1984, she studied at Edinburgh College of Art's tapestry department before moving to Glasgow to do an MFA at the Glasgow School of Art. She has participated in the recent GIA festival (Glasgow International Arts Festival), although she admits, "I have never sold a work."

When I ask if she will stay on after her fellowship or move back to Edinburgh or to England, her response is, "It is easier to make work here in Glasgow, more space and cheaper rent. You meet interesting people who make you want to up your game."

Tessa Lynch: Raising at Jupiter Artland, Edinburgh (www.jupiterartland.org) performances on weekends until 28 September