Tonight I’m reflecting on the last twenty-four hours and the nature of working with other artists and creative practitioners. I’ve had a day of not really getting on with my intended plan, distracted as I was by creative people and their stories, but sometimes I find I just have to go with the flow. Last night Gallery TS1 hosted an informal seminar and discussion about shared arts practice. Sara Cooper and I are very different artists, but we both applied for the same pot of funding to explore working in local museums, and the similarities in our applications promoted the panel to suggest we work together.
So over a glass of Pimms (a fruity work of art in itself, thank you Gail,) drawings were revealed, ceramics were handled and discussions were had. One of the questions asked of us was ‘would you have done this if you hadn’t been funded?’
Good question. As it happens, we have both always collaborated with other artists of one kind or another, but it’s unlikely that we would have picked each other out to explore working practice together. However, I have this unshakeable belief that we are presented with opportunities all the time, and if we are awake, and have a clear intent, then the right opportunities arrive from unexpected places. We always have choices – either one of us could have said no. We were each quite clear about what we wanted, me to explore working in Preston Park, Sarah to work in the Dorman Museum. But as we both have professional education in our backgrounds, we were probably more likely to agree than not, and often the unexpected door that opens is the one that leads us where we didn’t know we wanted to go.
Artists and teachers are brokers of curiosity – and although curiosity killed the cat, presumably the cat had nine glorious lives full of exploration before it got to its demise. Some artists’ curiosity leads them to introspective places, some of us thrive on company and exchange; Sara and I learned a lot over a short series of workshop exchanges and discussions, she learned more about approaches using ceramics, I learned more about my own relationship to drawing. We gained different perspectives, and we find ourselves planning to continue collaborating.
Furthermore, I now find myself working with two museums – but more of that later!
Gallery TS1 is a collective of artists who have in common that they are artists, and they live in the Tees Valley. Beyond that, a wider range of creative people you would be hard pushed to meet, between us we use everything from felt to furniture polish to create our work. Some are ambitious career artists, some have whole other jobs and creativity is their escape. We have painters and jewellers, textile artists and photographers, wood turners and illustrators; it makes for lively debate – there have been journeys made and waters charted, decisions made and overturned.
And to ensure survival in this challenging economic climate, the gallery is undergoing another transition and collaboration of its own as The Secret Artists’ Company takes on a strategic role in the programming, marketing and professional development support of around twenty-five resident creative businesses.
What unexpected doors will open next? I’m curious to know..