Arts based research
"What creative methods encourage collaboration between individuals in a community group"
'Memories and materials' 2014, was a research project which explored collaboration between myself and three female participants within the local community of Blackheath, London. The research took place in the studio at the Reminiscence Arts Centre, with eleven sessions running once a week. The art making allowed an opportunity for participants within a shared locality, to contribute their memories and narratives, to inform personal and collective art making. The work created a connection between four women, of different generations in the sharing of past experiences, tales and anecdotes.
The sensitive nature of reminiscence based art opened doors to new ways of working as a collaborative group, intuition allowed a shift in the approach to working with personal memories. By using photography, participants were able to revisit, collaborate and create responses which related to memories that had been created during our sessions. Time allowed a familiarity to understand personal boundaries and individuality, over time this understanding created a supportive environment. Participants were able to offer advice and guidance enriched by the experiences understood in the previous sessions, creating a connection and supportive environment between participants in the group.
The experimentation of art materials acted as a guide to the process of collaboration and through the use of materials such as ink, printmaking and photography participants could explore new artistic techniques end in doing so find ways of working with the material.
Space became integral to the collaboration, in both the physical and conceptual aspects. The indoor space of the studio provided a safe place to return to each week, a sense of stability and familiarity and an opportunity for project ideas to develop through experimentation and exploration. The outdoor environment furthered the collective experience; it offered reflection, calm and insight and provided direction to the collaboration, allowing the project to take shape and move forward. It a lowed space to converse with ease, so participants were able to feel comfortable, yet engaged with one another's thoughts and ideas.
"The frame need not be physical, it can be conceptual emotional, experiential, social temporal. Furthermore it moves."
Kay Larson from ‘Buddha mind in contemporary art.
Collage became recognised as part of the method of collaboration. Collage was used as a way to combine materials and ideas in to a collaborative response, it encapsulated the reconstruction of memory, experiences and narrative held individually which then developed through to the identity of the collaborative group. The collages created an opportunity to explore how alternative meaning can be reconstructed through the use of multiple imagery. It allowed participants to work in a responsive way together and offered an inclusive approach to collaboration.
Proximity became a collaborative method in the research project, sharing close physical proximity created a sensitive way to work with others, it allowed opportunity to communicate non-verbally and in doing so created an environment whereby the visual response became the strongest form of communication. Reaching this comfort in proximity was made passible within the process of time.
Throughout the project, reflection took form in many ways, this included conversation, observation and writing. Through these alternative processes communication was reciprocated and a collaborative experience developed. It allowed an opportunity for the identity of the group to take form and in this way strengthen connections. Reflection created opportunities to be aware and conscious of the unfolding of moments within the research.
"This awareness is what moves beyond the known for the self, for the viewer and potentially for the society or culture at large " Mary Jane Jacob
"We started doing patterns and drawings. We all got together, we did one thing we wanted to do. We all followed suit and we all came together" Participant feedback"