Friday, October 15, 2010

Guest post: Collaboration in art and crafts

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by Shauna Busto Gilligan and Annemiek Hamelink Part 1 of 3

Annemiek and Shauna met each other in Ireland over ten years ago. At the time they both worked in desk jobs. Since then Shauna has returned to writing and Annemiek felt the urge to create with her hands and found clay, glass and silver very satisfying. Similarly, Shauna's husband Xuan left the corporate world to return to his first career as a photographer. Photographs which Xuan took formed the basis of the inspiration for some short stories, they produced a book together and sent Annemiek a copy as a present. She read the stories and some inspired her. Xuan's pictures bear no relation to the creations Annemiek made in any way, but Shauna's writing brings the two creative outputs together.

In this series of blogs we track how Shauna as a writer and Annemiek as a crafter have found the "accidental" collaboration of photograph-story-bowl in terms of artistic process and tangible outcomes. Currently we are using this experience to formalise further collaboration using Annemiek's "story bowls" as the starting point.

Step 1: Photograph to Story – Shauna, the writer
Xuan’s took the photograph of the lighthouse (above) at an open day run by the Irish Landmark Trust which gave open access to the public. As a writer, I found myself interested in what was within the lighthouse while Xuan as a photographer, looked outward beyond the lighthouse. It was the domestic details which captured me like the a chair or a towel on a rail. The idea of a winding road, seen as disjointed vertical lines in the photograph led me to thoughts of journeys and why one makes these journeys. It was the going away from something that made me create a character who is seated on the chair in the photograph, anticipating the journey her man is going to make in his new car, waiting to glimpse the shine of the metal in the sun – like the lucky horseshoe on the car – at a distance on the winding road. Read the story.

Step 2: Story to Bowl – Annemiek, the crafter
Reading the story I got clear images and flashbacks in my mind, the winding roads and the rolling hills of Ireland. I did not know the picture was taken in Ireland. Some stories will not have the same film-like effect on ones mind and the images stay kind of blurry, but this came through clear. I could see the man in a shiny open sports car with long wavy hair flowing in the wind while driving; the winding road, the wife looking out for him. The scenery something like this:

Now to capture this in a bowl I had to boil it down to the essentials for me, so I kept it in my head and let it mature. What came out was the lone oldtimer-type sports car in typical red on a winding road. I choose the dark clay as it feels right, if I had choosen crisp white porcelain, the feel would be different entirely.

Conclusions: Shauna’s thoughts on the tangible creation
It was interesting for me to see what image Annemiek had picked to hone in on when she created the bowl. While the car was indeed one of the main images in the story, it was more of the texture of the car, silver, reflection of the metal off the sun that was the strongest for me. The change in colour from silver to red was interesting but in practial terms works much better on the dark clay than a silver one would have worked. Annemiek had picked up on the notion of speed and movement in the story and what better image than a red sports car to portray that.

In this “accidental” collaboration the end product is something which can be used. I now use Annemiek’s bowl with the red car in it to keep silver paperclips which hold drafts of my stories together....