A craft exhibition and symposium marks the culmination of an international exchanges project comprising three international residency programmes bringing together makers from Mexico, Canada, Thailand and Scotland. All residencies explored the themes of identity, sustainability and collaboration, and investigated the strengths of craft as cultural production. Makers collaborate to explore one another’s identity, environment, skills, materials and techniques through discussion, mentorship and experimentation.

Shift Canada began in October 2019 when five makers from Scotland travelled to meet five makers in Nova Scotia. During an initial ten-day period of meetings, creative exploration and critical review, five collaborative pairings emerged, plus an unexpected sixth pairing. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Canadian counterparts’ reciprocal visit to the Scottish Highlands in Spring 2020 was cancelled. However, makers embraced the challenge and moved their contact online to collaborate with very positive results.

Scottish and Canadian makers (left to right: Carol Sinclair, Cally Booker, Pamela Conacher, Keirsten Holden, Mengnan Qu and Louise Barrington) reviewing their work in Halifax, Nova Scotia at their first meeting during the SHIFT international exchange residency.

Crafting Futures Mexico ran in two parts. In February 2019, one maker from Scotland travelled to Oaxaca to create work with a group of artisan rug weavers, alongside a designer from Mexico who was working with artisan basket weavers. In September 2019, three Mexican participants in the February 2019 residency travelled to Scotland to meet with two new makers based in Scotland. Both parts of the residency included cultural immersion activities, facilitated discussion, and collaborative development of work. Work for the first part was designed and created during the month-long period of the residency. For the second part, makers continued discussions, explorations and creation of work at distance for 18 months (extended due to the Covid-19 pandemic) after their ten-day residency. 

A group of 5 females from Scotland and Mexico in a walled garden looking at and picking plants.
Makers and designers on the Mexico Scotland residency discuss plant-based dyes while at The Barn, Banchory, photographer: Northern Collective

Crafting Futures Thailand brought together two makers from Scotland with two craft-based designers from Thailand for a ten-day residency at Cove Park, Scotland in February 2020. During this residency, makers shared experiences, skills and processes; and created materials to work with beyond the residency. Makers continued to work with these materials and create work for 12-months afterwards (extended due to the Covid-19 pandemic).

Two people crossing a wooden suspension footbridge in a landscape of grass, ferns and trees that have shed their leaves.
Kawisara Anansaringkarn (Poon) and Prach Niyomka (Mann) taking in the landscape at Cove Park, photographer: Stefanie Cheong

Makers taking part in collaborative international residencies have inspired one another through innovative methods of idea development, experimented with new and traditional materials and shared the skills of their craft, all done in the spirit of adventure and the drive to learn from other making cultures.

‘Meet Make Collaborate’ Exhibition

Meet Make Collaborate, a touring exhibition of new works created by international makers opens at Inverness Museum and Art Gallery (IMAG) on Wednesday 28 April, until Saturday 19 June 2021.

Booking to visit the exhibition is advisable but not essential. There is a maximum capacity, so to ensure you can visit at the time you want, please make a booking on IMAG’s website.

Exhibition installation of craft objects and sculptural works displayed on neutral plinths and walls
Meet Make Collaborate exhibition at Inverness Museum and Art Gallery, photographer Ewen Weatherspoon

The exhibition presents new works in response to one or several of the international project’s themes of identity, sustainability and collaboration. Exhibited works cover a range of disciplines including textiles, weaving, ceramics, jewellery and basketry. 

Exhibited works, whether independent or collaborative, have been created by makers participating in the international residency programmes. 

Shift Canada
Artist Louise Barrington (Orkney), weaver Cally Booker (Dundee), ceramicist Susan O’Byrne (Glasgow) and basketmaker Sarah Paramor (Applecross) and ceramist Carol Sinclair (Forfar), collaborating with Canadian makers from Nova Scotia jeweller Kiersten Holden-Ada, visual artist Andrea Tsang Jackson, jeweller Mengnan Qu, weaver Jennifer Green and jeweller Rebecca Hannon respectively.

Wings, detail, Carol Sinclair & Rebecca Hannon Photo: Carol Sinclair

Crafting Futures Mexico
Weaver Lynne Hocking-Mennie (Aberdeen) collaborating with the Bii Dauu Collective and design graduate Dalila Cruz from Mexico, with work by weavers Fermina Ruiz, Ana Ruiz and Procoro Ruiz; and, textile artist Fiona Hall (Aberdeen) of Camban Studio collaborating with weaver Solidad Ruizz Mendoza and designer Dalila Cruz.

Handwoven long thin rug, rolled up at one end, in greens and yellows.
Mi hija contando del 1 al 10 en Zapoteco (My daughter counting to ten in Zapotec), Fermina Ruiz (Bii Dauu Collective), Lynne Hocking-Mennie and Dalila Cruz.

Creating Futures Thailand
Jeweller Stefanie Cheong (Glasgow) and weaver Lynne Hocking-Mennie (Aberdeen), collaborating with Thai designers Kawisara Anansaringkarn (Poon) of Coth Studio and Prach Niyomkar (mann) of Mann Craft respectively.

Inside of an umbrella, the vintage frame is covered in handwoven, highly textured cotton and linen fabric in creams and blues.
Umbrella maquette (inside), Lynne Hocking-Mennie

An insight into the experiences of the participating and exhibiting makers and the inspiration behind their new works can be found in a series of blogs written by the Scottish makers.

We will share images and a film of the works installed in the exhibition in late-May 2021. 

‘Old Stories, New Narratives’ Symposium

Old Stories, New Narratives invites makers from all fields of craft practice, plus curators, historians, theorists and researchers to think about the future of making practices and process through sharing new ideas about craft practice, research-in-progress and case studies concerning both maker-led and theoretical strategies and what these might have to offer in a global context. All content will investigate one or several of the international project’s themes of identity, sustainability and collaboration and draw on the international maker collaborations and works exhibited in Meet Make Collaborate.

Weaving, photographer Ana Paula Fuentes

With our partners, we will take the Old Stories, New Narratives symposium panels, skills sharing workshops online later in 2021, which provides an opportunity for us to deliver additional content, for our broad international audience.

We are delighted to be working with our partner in Scotland, Dr Juliette MacDonald Senior Lecturer at Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) and Distinguished Research Fellow at Nova Scotia College of Art & Design (NSCAD), our Canadian project partner, on the academic strand of the symposium. 

The Meet Make Collaborate exhibition and Old Stories, New Narratives symposium 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