Shift is an exchange residency project that was developed by Pamela Conacher and Emergents. In the project’s initial phase, from 2015-2018, makers and designers from the Scottish Highlands & Islands and Iceland collaborated. In it’s current phase, Shift has ‘shifted’ to Canada, and began in 2019 with a residency in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Iceland

An initial scoping visit made to Iceland in 2015 resulted in a partnership with the craft organisation Handverk og hönnun, continued with an exhibition of Scottish and Icelandic makers existing work in 2017 and culminated in an exhibition of new work by Scottish and Icelandic participants as part of both Design March in Reykjavik and XpoNorth 2018 at Inverness Museum and Art Gallery. Over the course of the project, eight Scottish makers took part. Eileen Gatt (jewellery and silversmithing) and Hilary Grant (knitted textiles) exhibited existing work. Diggory Brown (kiltmaker), Julia Smith (ceramics), Yellow Broom (lighting and products), Jen Deschenes (textiles) and Lucy Woodley all developed new work for 2018.

This film details the project in 2018 as makers and designers were preparing works for the final exhibition.

Work by Scottish makers and designers participating in Shift, 2017/2019

Two years on, the benefits to the Highland makers who participated in Shift are still accruing.

  • Yellow Broom’s ‘Reykjavic’ lighting, inspired by the architecture of Iceland’s capital, were selected for the Visual Arts Scotland 2019 exhibition in which they won the prestigious Inches Carr Mentoring Award
  • Lucy Woodley’s new work is currently being exhibited throughout the Highlands and Islands and the tour will continue into 2021
  • Netty Sopata of Diggory Brown has been invited to join the Circumpolar Crafters Network travelling to work with the Sami people in north Norway, and the Crafting Futures Mexico project to meet makers in Oaxaca.  Netty has also joined the AAS Board so that she can work to create valuable international opportunities for other makers, and is the lead on our Crafting Futures projects in Afghanistan and India
‘Reykjavic’ lighting, Yellow Broom, supported by the Inches Carr Mentoring Award

Canada

Shift entered a new phase as an AAS project in 2019, managed by Pamela as an AAS Board member. We are delighted to be working with our new 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). Juliette is leading on the academic strand of the project and has brokered the relationship with NSCAD, our Canadian project partners. We are also delighted to have the support of Creative Scotland to make this project possible. Our other funders and supporters are Highlands and Islands Enterprise, High Life Highland and Museums Galleries Scotland.

The Canadian iteration of Shift brings five Scottish and five Canadian makers together for a residency at three points:

  1. Residencies in Nova Scotia, Canada – October 2019
    These took place over 10 days in Halifax
  2. Residencies in the Scottish Highlands – spring 2020
    Due to the Covid-19 pandemic the exchange residencies had to be cancelled. However, the makers embraced the challenge and moved their contact online with very positive results
  3. At the Old stories, new narratives: identity, sustainability and collaboration international craft symposium and the ‘Meet Make Collaborate’ exhibition – postponed to 2021
    The new work from the Shift Residencies will be shown in 2021 (Covid restrictions permitting) as part of Meet, Make Collaborate, an exhibition that brings together work created as a result of AAS international residencies, including Shift Canada and the British Council Crafting Futures projects in Thailand, Mexico and Scotland.
Material development in Halifax Photo: Jennifer Green

The participating Scottish makers are artist Louise Barrington (Orkney), weaver Cally Booker (Dundee), ceramicist Susan O’Byrne (Glasgow) and basketmaker Sarah Paramor. They are collaborating respectively with Canadian makers from Nova Scotia jeweller Kiersten Holden-Ada, visual artist Andrea Tsang Jackson, jeweller Mengnan Qu and weaver Jennifer Green. A ‘bonus’ collaboration came out of the Canadian residency when Carol Sinclair (AAS Chair and ceramist) met with Rebecca Hannon (Shift Canada project manager and jeweller) and decided to collaborate too.

Scottish makers’ experiences of their collaborative residencies, taking place remotely due to geographical distance and the Covid-19 pandemic, are available in the AAS blog.