The Art of Collaboration

A few weeks ago I published a post about a collaborative art workshop I’d been to, at the end of which I asked for anyone interested in beginning a collaborative project with me to get in touch. I had two responses. The first from someone I’ve yet to meet who lives some distance from me; we worked out how to start via Messenger, and yesterday I sent the first ‘call’ to her in the mail: four photographs and a letter. It took me some time to decide what to send, it was much harder than I expected, a bit like trying to steel myself to walk through town wearing nothing but a pair of baffies. Suddenly nothing I had ever made was good enough. But I finally made it to the ‘fuck it’ moment, stuffed an envelope, and sent it off. Now all I have to do is sit back and wait for her response.

Red post box in the village of Stanton in the Peak, Derbyshire Credit: ©VisitBritain / Daniel Bosworth

The second was from long term blogging pal Scarlet who said in a comment on the post:

I’m in, if you want me…. I did Critical Fine Art Practice at college…. one of my favourite ever pieces I made was in response to a piece of text written by a fellow student. How it worked was that she wrote a text about a favourite object – describing it; saying how it made her feel; relating memories associated with it, but never saying what the object was. It was great fun and I made an installation from it.
So, without further ado, here is my object:

It’s the white of good vanilla ice-cream, about 20cm long, and 6 at its widest, but tapers to less than half in places. It has an egg shaped hole about two thirds of the way down its flank which I’m rather fond of running my finger round at odd moments. I also like to peer through it and frame small parts of my workspace. Isolate a postcard sitting on a shelf, or a pot of pencils, or a hastily scribbled note  (‘where butterflies perch on teeth’*).  What it looks like depends on the angle from which you view it: from one it reminds me of the Elephant Man lying down to die; from another it’s a hammer-head shark. It appears to twist, but doesn’t. Alexander McQueen might have used it as a pendant. It looks smooth and cool as milk, but when you look closely you find it to be as textured as a fine silk rug, and at its broken edges, for it is not whole but a fragment, you find it’s full of tiny holes, like fossilised mousse, or a crisp net underskirt. On one side it has a deep impression that neatly fits my thumb, which likes very much to sit in it while I’m thinking. Though for some reason this inverse notch reminds me of a dentist’s chair. There’s something of a lady’s fan about it; it’s light, and fragile, and real. It reminds me of the south-east English coast close to where I grew up; of beaches, and fossils, and sea-foam. Of holidays and day-trips, running to the water’s edge in a hand-me-down swimming costume. Flask-tea, and sandwiches of fish paste specked with sand. I don’t know where it came from, it seems I’ve had it here beside me at my desk for years, but it’s likely The Mr. brought it home. He knows how much I like such things. Which makes me like them even more, its presence makes me feel understood, it’s a shared experience. 

There we are, then, anyone else who feels inspired to try and make something from that feel free.


*This is scrawled on my desk diary, and comes from Bob Dylan’s Nobel Lecture.

4 thoughts on “The Art of Collaboration

    1. Excellent! Don’t worry about deadlines, unless a deadline would help you get it done in which case make it the last day of September. For this one I thought it would be good to do it all through our blogs, so you could, if you liked, post your progress/process as things begin to take shape. Or, you could just post the finished piece, entirely up to you. Whichever you choose, I’ll link to your blog as and when you post (probably not immediately, but when time allows). I’m working it out as I go!


  1. Oh, that’s a lovely piece of writing! I’ll see what I can do. I have been holed up doing a calligraphy exchange and had to disconnect to get it done in time, but I shall ponder your words properly next week.


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