I was recently drawn to the wonderful Freelands Foundation in Northwest London to visit their recent exhibition ‘Make’, all about thinking through making.
‘Make’ started life as a 2-week residency for a group of 10 artist-teachers with the aim of exploring new ways of making. As the Freelands Foundation posits:
“Human beings are makers. Through working with our hands, we shape and understand the world around us. Making things and engaging with materials changes the way we think. Making is a cognitive process”
Their approach was to “begin without an idea and, instead, to see what happens when you start with materials and explore what they can do.”
They prioritised process over outcomes and emphasised thinking through making.
The messy, exploratory and expansive nature of their approach was humming in the air as I looked around their work – quite an achievement given it was on display in a white box!
From the participants’ reflections on the residency, it also seems there was almost a meditative challenge to stay present and in the moment – to fight off ‘demands of ideas for possible works’.
I definitely recognise this in my own practice, that I may start off in quite a playful manner, but then get drawn into more ‘thought’ ideas. It’s a good question to pose, to ask myself where could my work go if I staved off my thinking brain for longer?
The photos below certainly give lots of inspiration and encouragement to pursue this way of making.
I somehow missed the individual attributions of these works, in my defence, I think because they felt very much to be the output of a shared collective energy and effort.
Overall these works were by: Rosemary Cronin, Kathryn Devine, Lisa-Marie Dickinson, Lily Hudson, Anya Mustoo, Paul Raymond, Keda Richards, Michael Sacco, Molly Skinner and Fan Yeung.
The residency was facilitated by: Aaron Angell, Andy Ash, Joseph Critchley, Holly Hendry, Henry Ward and Tamsin Wildy.