Conversations & Collaborations’
April 28 –May 27 2012
Museum in the Park



Images of new collaborative work with Jane Webb and David Gates


Alice Kettle November 2011

Pairings II Conversations and Collaborations is a simple thought; to celebrate uniqueness and togetherness. The intention is to celebrate making and makers and engage with another to learn and understand more.

This exhibition brings together partnerships of makers to discuss and share the experience of making. Collaboration raises questions about ownership, it tests recognised working methods and negotiates how voices resonate and sing together. It is the evidence of this dialogue between makers which has given birth to work and ideas that redefine the nature of the object and of craft. The subsequent artefact or collection of pieces, combine a marriage or parallel exploration of materials, of practices and creative identities.

The exhibition places makers and designers together in pairs or in threesomes. Each participant has a distinct and established area of their own practice which they have shared with another maker in order to have an experience of a different material, a new process and an exchange of ideas. The exhibition will show the evidence of these playful duets and trios and the in between conversations, where materials and methods are questioned or where different approaches are placed together in reflection or contradiction. The show will demonstrate intriguing combinations which challenge our notions of creative identity and ownership.

The participants come from a variety of material backgrounds. This newly commissioned exhibition by Stroud International Textile Festival develops new working  partnerships with at least one maker working with textiles. Other works are selected from the ‘Pairings’ collaborative project originally initiated in 2009 at Manchester Metropolitan University and the ‘Stitching and Thinking Group’ at University of the West of England.

Glass is pinned into felt, ceramics are stitched, and objects are woven. These cross fertilisations of voice and material may be a temporary shift of direction and a testing of other skills which can impact more permanently on individual practice. The courage of the makers to expose and expand their working methods must be acknowledged as they search for new territories which are joined and connected materially. With their companion they have talked and critiqued each other’s work with new understandings of common ground. Ismini Samanidiou and Sharon Blakey describe their experience as ‘like a whirlwind romance: a passionate affair of fleeting encounters and intense assignations.’ But one which,’ revealed a deeply rooted, mutual aesthetic in the impermanence and beauty of the everyday and evidence of the transitory.’ 1

Some have found possibilities in new technologies and in alternative processes and tools. They have applied these new discoveries to their own material. Stephen Dixon and Jessamy Kelly describe making new ‘treasures’.  Duncan Ayscough and Heather Belcher discovered a ‘shared passion for material, process and words’  and an ‘opportunity for me to step outside my own, focused, practice and to share my discipline whilst obtaining valuable and inspiring insights into a new material.’2

As Claire Curneen puts it: a simple thought can lead to, ‘a simple conversation with a like-minded stranger,’ which ‘ can produce some unexpected ideas.’3

1.              Gröppel-Wegener, A. (2010) Pairings: exploring collaborative creative practice. Manchester Metropolitan University: The Pairings Project/Blurb 2010. P58
2.              As above . P.94
3.              As above. P.10


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