5 Ways Collaboration can be Transformative

Collaboration sits at the heart of AAS’s previous and current international exchange project enabling makers to expand the scope of their practice, experience new cultures and get fresh inspiration.

The projects bring together Scottish makers with their counterparts in Mexico, Thailand and Canada in a series of residencies to create new works on the themes of identity and sustainability for an exhibition, Meet Make Collaborate, and international craft symposium.

The first stage of these residencies took place before the Covid-19 Pandemic, when makers met in person. They are now adapting to the current circumstances and developing new ways to continue their collaborations digitally. Many participants have told us that their collaborations have been a lifeline during these challenging times and have provided comfort, support, focus, creative inspiration and reinforced the joy and sense of connection brought about through making. Additionally, the lockdown situation they are all sharing, whatever country they live in, has made them all consider the project themes of identity and sustainability from new perspectives.

AAS is facilitating conversations between participants about collaborative processes. Over the next few months we will publish a series of commissioned Meet Make Collaborate guest blogs by participating Scottish makers sharing their experiences and giving an insight into the new work in progress.

As an introduction to these, here are 5 ways collaboration can be transformative for makers.

1 New Perspectives
It allows makers to gain a renewed perspective on their practice and how they approach their work. They are challenged to consider ideas from a new point of view. They can share time together with no comparison and competition or expectation.

2 Exchanging Ideas
It enables stimulating discussions and conversations about identities, sustainability, materials, skills and traditions and an exchange of interests, influences, experiences, environments and ideas.

3 Pushes Their Practice
It allows makers to explore their practices, what they have in common and where they differ. They can find parallels in work, materials and concept, experiment with new materials and making techniques and expand their knowledge and skill base.

4 Different Cultures
Communication through making processes overcomes language barriers and brings people with very different cultural backgrounds and identities together to co-operate, exchange and share skills and ideas. There are shared concerns about preserving and updating traditional craft skills, sustainability, the environment and communities, as a well a simple shared joy in the act of making.

5 Inspiration
All of these transformations create renewed inspiration and act as catalysts for new ideas, new ways of thinking, new processes and expanded approaches to making.

The Meet Make Collaborate exhibition is part of an international project by Applied Arts Scotland SCIO in partnership with the British Council Crafting Futures programme including the British Council Mexico and British Council Thailand, the British Council ScotlandHigh Life HighlandMuseums Galleries Scotland and Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and funded by Creative ScotlandEdinburgh College of Art and Highlands and Islands Enterprise.   

Image: Shift Canada residency in Halifax, Nova Scotia

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