Inspiring AAS Projects Supporting Makers Shine at AGM

“Is there anything else we could do? What’s missing?” asked AAS chair Carol Sinclair at the recent AAS Annual General Meeting, and after her whirlwind review of current AAS projects and future plans it was not surprising there were no suggestions.

The purpose of AAS is to deliver tangible benefits to the maker community in Scotland and this aim shines through in all the work over the past year.

Developed by AAS Shared apprenticeships is a unique approach to introducing young people to making while helping makers build their businesses, and has led to several apprentices being employed with one now studying at art college. Supported with funding from Skills Development Scotland it has been praised as an innovative scheme and is now being evaluated through funding from Creative Scotland with plans to share the findings at an event for other art organisations in autumn 2019.

As a partner in the British Council Crafting Futures programme AAS is developing a groundbreaking new digital toolkit for makers which will launch in 2019. This new free digital resource will provide practical support for makers seeking to start or expand their craft business with makers in Thailand and Scotland sharing stories.

Through this work in Thailand AAS is now also developing a project in Mexico offering a potentially life changing opportunity for a Scottish maker to visit and work in Mexico for a month long residency in February 2019. As part of Crafting Futures AAS can also nominate makers for other projects and through this furniture designer Isabelle Moore is visiting Chile.

Pamela Conacher, who has now joined the board of AAS, introduced Shift, a collaborative exchange between makers in Iceland and the Highlands of Scotland, which gave them opportunities to experience new environments often experimenting with new materials. Similar initiatives with other countries are now being developed.

Ring Composition in Fair Trade gold and recycled silver by Stefanie Cheong

Alongside these projects future AAS activities for members include a programme of Critical Feedback sessions, exclusive guided tours of the National Museums Collection Centre at Granton in Edinburgh and development of an event in association with Interface on material innovation.

The meeting voted to introduce a new level of membership, AAS Associate membership, which will launch in early 2019, and two new members were appointed to the board, jeweller Stefanie Cheong and Aberdeen based woven textile designer Lynne Mennie who joins as Vice-Chair.

The second part of the day was an opportunity for members to experience the Critical Feedback process which enables a maker to get feedback on specific work in a controlled peer environment and was described by one participant as “Really, really useful, really insightful and really nice”.

Top image: “Make this moment last forever” by Lynne Mennie, woven between piano strings to a design based on a spectrogram from children singing. Exhibited as part of Aberdeen Artists Society’s “experimental use of space”. 

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