Sharing through making:TAKING PART
CARE stands for ‘community asset-based research and enterprise’. It is a project based in Cornwall and Birmingham, which aims to test and develop different ways that groups and individuals can share craft skills and knowledge through making and story-telling; reflect on how and why they make and the value and meaning of making in their lives. Phase One of the CARE project has three elements; Making Stories, Making Boxes, and Making Buddies.
We began this project by identifying our creative practitioners: people from our communities who were skilled in crafts, as a hobby – knitting, crochet, embroidery, woodworking, metalwork, quilting, lacemaking, basket making, tatting, beadwork, model making and weaving, for instance. Often these activities are undertaken voluntarily for pleasure and involve high levels of ingenuity, competence and creativity.
CARE hopes to help participants build on such skills and abilities through sharing their stories and their work. We hope this will lead onto other things. Participants might end up gaining new skills, mentoring others or even starting a new enterprise, or may simply continue their making activities but value them all the more having seen their work through someone else’s eyes.
In Cornwall the first part of the project, reflecting on the part craft has played in the participants’ lives, was filmed by Bryony Stokes. We asked some questions: We were interested in what kind of things people make, where and how they learnt their skills, how they use them now and how they might like to develop them in the future. We asked them to select two craft objects that had meaning for them: one something that they had made and the other made by someone else (a gift or an heirloom, for instance). These were the visual aids for the film that would help the participants tell us their personal ‘making stories’. We also asked:
● What do you make, and where and how did you learn your skills? Did you learn at school or from a relative, for instance?
● Have the things you make changed over the years, if so why do you think this is? Have you tried out different things at different times, or are there times when you made lots of things and others when you stopped, and why might that be?
● Could you tell us why you make things, do you get pleasure from the activity, is it a social thing, something you do for your family or is it connected to other aspects of your life? And what would you like to do with your skill in the future; are you happy with things as they are or do you have other aspirations?
We also asked to film/photograph the participants making something – demonstrating stitches, choosing fabric or thread, for instance. And we wanted to know more about where they make: the environment that they feel relaxed in and how they have decorated and/or organised it, and their making routines: cups of tea, working alone or together, with the radio or TV on or not etc.
These are the films of our creative practitioners from Cornwall: Barbara, Linda, Pippa and Jane.
Then we requested that along with the film/recording they also gave us a making box with some things/photos/writing/post cards in it that they had selected to represent themselves and their making stories. They were told they might also include a piece of unfinished work which their respondents could work on. We said would take great care of the boxes and all items in them will be returned; if they had something really precious we said we would ask our filmmakers to photograph it when they visited and add it to the box that way.
Once the recordings/films were made we showed them to a ‘buddy’ (creative respondent) who we selected for each creator. Each buddy was asked to create a piece of work in response to the recording/film/box, and to record their own processes of making and reflecting. Critically, for our reflections, the Birmingham buddies met in person when the boxes were passed over, whereas the Cornwall buddies did not – and were even asked to look at the boxes before they were shown the films of their buddies, to see if it made a difference to the making process to respond to a material object without the context of any information about the maker. (See knowledge sharing event under the “Events” heading for the responses to this.)
Here are the Birmingham buddy boxes being presented:
Myrtle and Dawn: https://vimeo.com/68654915
Elsie and Rosie: https://vimeo.com/68654912
And here are the Cornwall buddies meeting, and talking about their experiences of the “call and response” process. First we see our respondents – Hannah, Zoe, Mia and Kathleen – talking, and then they meet their buddy.
Hannah and Barbara: https://vimeo.com/68115857
Zoe and Linda: https://vimeo.com/68065713
Mia and Pippa: https://vimeo.com/68062474
Kathleen and Jane: https://vimeo.com/68059869
On Monday 20 May we hosted an exhibition and event that brought together all those involved in the project to celebrate, share stories and see what we had made. we will share the reflections about this – very soon.