Serendipitous North residency at Timespan Museum and arts centre
‘in my view, what continues to distinguish the crafts, to make them highly visible , is the care with which they have been made , the fact that they have been made by one human being for another , the individual take , the use of materials and the thoughtfulness of their design: design with attitude. And yes, the patient mastery of technique until it becomes second nature. The crafts have become a wide range of possibilities, a spectrum and the more inclusive and varied and versatile the better’ Christopher Frayling. The power of Making. V& A Publishing and Crafts Council . Edited by Daniel Charney
Rather than focusing solely on craft as a studio practice , I am more interested in Making in everyday lives and in exploring the often hidden making that goes on, those activities which are often not considered creative or artistic. The m a p MAKING project celebrates all types of making and mending in Helmsdale and explores places of making from armchairs to kitchen tables, sheds and crofts. I have been spotting ‘making’ in the village and documenting objects made through photography. This provides a beautiful visual resource of the making activity of the village. In addition an Inventory of making has been created which lists making I have discovered over my time here. This will highlight just how much creative activity goes on in the village and provides an entertaining read listing everything from loom bands to jam to 3D printed sheep! Word of each discovery is also put out there in the making world through twitter @map_MAKING. This links Helsmdale to the wider Making community.
“All of us can make. It is one of the strongest of human impulses and one of the most significant means of human expression. To some, making is the fountain that releases creative ideas; to others, making is about participating in society as well as defining personal identity. To most of those who make, though, it is likely that they do not think of it as creative activity. It is their way of making a living- an absolute necessity. The power of making, from the height of luxurious freedom to the depth of deprivation, is that it is something that people do.
While for some people making is critical for survival , for others it is a way of learning . And maybe also a way of defying conventions, enjoying life or solving its problems. Making serves other needs too. It allows people to care for loved ones, worship, mourn, celebrate or demonstrate. It is a way of exercising free will.
Though intentions and conditions vary, all makers participate in the unique human experience that comes from being completely engrossed in creative activity. Being ‘in the zone’ is felt by a four- year- old as much as by a seasoned master”
Daniel Charney The power of Making. V& A Publishing and Crafts Council . Edited by Daniel Charney
Woodies and Knitwits
Over time I have been discovering all the fixing and making which goes on modestly behind closed doors. Spending time with established Making groups such as the Helmsdale Woodlanders and the Knitwits knitting group also have been inspiring. The ‘Woodies’ are ‘a group of highly motivated and, it has to be said, eccentric volunteers learning the arts of traditional woodland management and greenwood skills, meeting on a regular basis and having a laugh as well as doing some hard graft’. The knitwits area knitting club who meet each Tuesday to work on both individual and communal projects also. Some of the group are also working on the Diaspora Tapestry which links with other stitchers worldwide. There is much more to be discovered and my time on the residency is short but hopefully the project will provide a snapshot of how Helmsdale and many other villages are often undiscovered creative places.
Putting Helmsdale on the m a p
Exploring maps in the archive I came across a map from 1907 which had been adjusted (in biro pen ) to add later buildings to the town. I began to think of how villages grow and change over time and that maps only provide a static moment in time. I developed ideas around a community map tablecloth which could remain in the village long after my residency and could be adjusted or added to through stitch. This would provide a map which would evolve through time and making and something useful for a very active community.
I worked on the map digitally and this was printed at Centre for Advanced Textiles at Glasgow School of Art. Julia Jappy the local tailoress finished the edges beautifully to make a tablecloth. The tablecloth has been to Thyme and Plaice café, the community centre and P7 at the local school have even added a few herring and salmon to the waters of Helsmdale.
Have a look at the Inventory of MAKING in Helmsdale