Enough is Enough – Exploring data gaps in the creative industries

In our Voices of Makers blog AAS Member Amy Dunnachie of Amy Finds shares her experience of taking part in a mini residency on her home isle of Jura to consider what is enough for creative practices and the ways policy makers utilise data on the creative industries.

Being a creative practitioner carries with it different weights of meaning, responsibility, values, time, narratives, success, failure, privilege, discrimination, pain, gain… much like many other occupations. Many of us feel like there is a tightrope between earning enough to live, and meeting our values day to day. Earning enough to live, and imprinting our truth on the world we inhabit. Earning enough to live, and feeding your belly fire enough to get up and do it all again the next day/week/month.

Exploring the tensions that align with my experience of living and working stem from finding and collecting objects from the coast that have had some sort of story before my handling of it. Typically having been discarded by another person or environment, these objects range from marine debris to relics of human living and play, to natural, cultural and historical materials.

Funded by Creative Informatics Creative Horizon 4 project and working towards a group exhibition at the end of September 2022, I had the pleasure of sharing my practice with in a mini artist residency on my home Isle of Jura over three full days (and four nights) in August 2022, collaborating with fellow makers and AAS Members Lynne Hocking of Lynne’s Loom and Lorna Brown of Blessed Unrest/ Ink on Mesh. We are looking at the stories that data can tell, and the stories that it can’t, working together to express the information that goes into our decision making processes for our creative businesses and practices. Specifically, what is “enough” for us? Enough of what? How does this feed into the way that policymakers utilise data about the creative industries?

Our experience of collaborating together on Jura was a joyous, melt in the mouth fusion of honesty, flow, making, talking, arranging and documenting, connecting and sharing. I’m reminded about how meaningful conversation – digging for the discovery of nuances in the earth of words – builds community and trust, and, more personally, a way for us to reclaim our most fundamental human values (ref: Turkle, S. (2015) Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age. London: Penguin
Press). Through weave, print, cyanotype, mark making, play with found objects and social interaction with people outside of our company, we found ways to communicate ideas, or ‘data’, about our experiences.

We worked together in the village hall, right in the heart of the main settlement of Craighouse, with the doors and windows wide open. Over the years, I’ve shared many conversations in this space, danced many dances, laughed many laughs, cried, sustained some injuries, united in some battles, kissed… with this in mind, using the space as artist studio to question ideas around what data can’t tell about the creative experience feels like an entire universe to me, particularly as a practitioner who works with people and connection. But playfully and purely practicing my creativity through acts of making in collaboration in a place that I wear many other hats, amongst people who have known me for a very long time (or in more ‘practical’ senses) interrupted my familiar dance with people and place in such a way that I feel a little bit different. Like walking in a fancy new pair of shoes, or suddenly realising that olives are in fact delicious and addictive.

You can catch our exhibition at Inspace Gallery between the 30 September and 2 October 2022 as part of “There Be Dragons: Navigating the uncharted data territories of creative practice”.

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