Elena Mary Harris is a Glasgow-based participatory artist, working across a variety of media to promote a socially engaged art practice. Graduated from the Glasgow School of Art in 2015, Elena focuses on the idea of skills exchange to create partnership-working relationships with community groups in the city in which she resides. This focus is shaped by The Gift by Lewis Hyde, a text that outlines the importance of gift exchange in the building of communities. Elena understands ‘the gift’ not just as an object, but also as skills and conversations. Fuelled by her work with independent advocacy for under-represented groups, the artist endeavours to find new channels of communication for these interactions, whether this be visual or through practical making.
Currently, Elena is coordinating and facilitating a community heritage art project, supported by the O2 ThinkBig Fund, to reconnect the area of South West Glasgow with it’s roots in international industry. The project endeavours to create links between existing organisations and communities to create collaborative workshops, which pass skills and ownership of work back to the participants. These aims carry over from previous projects and residencies including: Freed Market: How do we feed ourselves?, Aberdeen 2015, a residency project supported by Scottish Sculpture Workshop and Aberdeen City Council to encourage the citizens of Aberdeen to consider the cultural implications of food within the city, Glasgow Fort Knitting Club, Glasgow 2015, a durational project exploring the ideal of skills exchange as a means of building relationships and La Distesa Sconfinata Della Argilla, Basilicata 2014, a residency supported by the Luciana Film Festival to facilitate the construction and use of a ceramics kiln within a community centre.