The Happenstance: Dispatch 11

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Scotland + Venice: Dispatch 11 of 12

The Happenstance: a Lively Scottish-Venetian freespace: Phineas Harper

In this dispatch, critic and curator, Phineas Harper sets the scene of the Biennale by looking at how it is indeed far from the theme of a Freespace itself. He asks what the role of the Biennale is and how little engagement it has with Venetians. In contrast, he writes, rather than a fixed exhibition to be experienced as a static work, The Happenstance was a multi-faceted armature built to host an ongoing festival of play, performance and making, freely open to all. The usually neglected Venetians took the project to heart – news of it was spread by word of mouth.

The Happenstance / Scotland + Venice: Scotland’s critically acclaimed contribution to the 16th International Architecture exhibition at La Biennale di Venezia 2018. Curated by WAVEparticle.


The image shows young piper Andrew Bell leading a group of people where bright costumes to the local Sagra Festival. Mr Gobby – the inflatable mouth by Pester and Rossi – hangs above the door inviting people into The Happenstance.

Image credit: Brian Hartley

Posted 16 September 2020.

The Happenstance: Dispatch 1

Introduction: Morag Bain. First in a series of twelve publications or ‘dispatches’, exploring the themes of, and learning from The Happenstance.

The Happenstance: Dispatch 2

Venice Reflective: Lee Ivett. A successful public space is one that suggests possibility and opportunity rather than dictates and instructs behaviour.

The Happenstance: Dispatch 3

Into the Mouth of the Wolf: Peter McCaughey. A day in the life of The Happenstance and the chance encounters and the coincidences in the garden.

The Happenstance: Dispatch 4

My Experience as a Fellow at The Happenstance: Theo Shack. Immersive education, and the possibilities that might not otherwise happen.

The Happenstance: Dispatch 5

Venice / Local Context: Alberto Lago. How the memory of The Happenstance is still alive today in the minds of the Venetian people.

The Happenstance: Dispatch 6

Play: Brian Hartley. Play as a spontaneous and creative process, and how it opens vital conversations and actions.

The Happenstance: Dispatch 7

Tools of the Trade: Peter McCaughey. A focus on five principal tools, of the many tools and tactics used.

The Happenstance: Dispatch 8

One A to Z of Making Connections: Peter McCaughey. Exploring the variety of ways connections were made between individuals and organisations.

The Happenstance: Dispatch 9

Participatory Practice: Ian Gilzean. How participation and community empowerment inspires people to realise their creativity and sense of ownership.

The Happenstance: Dispatch 10

A Conversation, a Workshop and Afterwards: Elizabeth Murphy and Emily Speed. Teams are able to make something much bigger, layered and profound.

The Happenstance: Dispatch 12

The Ongoing Legacy: Morag Bain and Peter McCaughey. It continues through events, tools shared, the friendships and connections being made.

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