Thursday, 3 May 2012
I ran a workshop last week alongside artist Gemma Lacey.
We've worked together for a number of years now. I've forgotten how many. We started working together when we were individually invited to take part in an exhibition, and I wrote a poem in response to one of Gemma's beautiful prints (on the top left in the photograph).
From there, I'm not sure how we ended up engaging in a series of collaborations that seem to evolve slowly over time, with no end goal only a wish to have a creative dialogue between us, and wanting to play with words and visual art.
This photograph is a collection of some of our work. We laid these photographs, prints, drawings, poems, books, objects out on a table so that the workshop participants could see if they wanted and because we wanted to encourage other people to explore their own collaborations.
I think it's the first time I've seen all this work in the same place. Some of it lives with me and some of it lives with Gemma. Most of our work has been postal projects - sending each other responses through the post, sometimes with huge gaps in time and not knowing what is going to arrive through our letterboxes. We have days together, where we go out and talk and get inspiration. We have joint play days. I call them Gemma days, and she calls them Annie days. And we eat food and sometimes walk. We draw and print and collage, and photograph and make, and write and type on old typewriters and use old printing sets, and I always feel as if Gemma's work is inspiring and beautiful and feel very lucky to work with her.
So, it felt exciting to bring some of this together at a workshop, and share our experience with a small group of other artists, writers and interested people. We invited them to explore the gallery space and the current exhibition Inside. They responded with words and images and shared them with each other, and everything was about working together, as a group and in pairs to create new work - not individual but shared work.
It was interesting to see the work that came out of these exercises. And we had some fascinating conversations about collaborations. We were asked questions about our work together, and I realised that mostly it has been unspoken, our work together, it has evolved quietly, without us setting goals, without us making decisions about 'where it will go' and even without us agreeing on a direction. No rules. And this is why it works so well, no expectations, no end point, no agenda, no pressure on each other or time constraints.
I love it.
And I loved seeing all our work together.
Of course, we are still evolving and working on a new project and I'm not sure how long this one will continue or exactly what work we will have in the end. I know that without planning to we have started to explore similar themes and issues and a body of work is developing that we know is heading towards a limited edition box called keepsafes that will contain words and art objects.
And I'm really hoping that maybe we can do more workshops together to encourage other people to find collaborators, creative mates, partners to explore and inspire and make and play and share creativity with, because it's great fun, and find things that might never be discovered inside us individually....