Matt on Collaboration

We sat down with Matt Girling to ask him about his thoughts and experiences on the OutsiderXchangeS project. Exploring how it may have changed his work and how he  collaborates.

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How did you approach collaboration within the project and what difficulties did you discover, how did you overcome them and also what successes have you discovered in collaboration? 

 I started out in a way that, looking back on it now, seemed naïve. Even before we came to the first studio session I had big bundle of ideas that seemed to me, likely to result in interesting and exciting collaborations. Most of these ideas involved me inviting other artist to participate in what I was doing; I had the door to my art practice open and beckoned people in to try it out. On the whole, this approach fell pretty flat. Other artists were interested but understandably were more interested in getting on with there own work. At that early stage I wasn’t comfortable attempting to influence what anybody else was working on. It felt rude to break somebodies’ busy concentration and try and make a difference to artwork that in most cases doesn’t need to be changed at all.

So I decided to do the same and just get on with my own practice. Just doing the what I would have been doing regardless of the context of the residency. I was mainly drawing. I sit next to Lesley in the studio, He also draws a lot too, and generally with the same kind of equipment to me; he’s the only person I know with a bigger trail of dried out black fine liners in their wake than me. Working so closely in parallel with another artist with a similar process to mine has defiantly affected the way I make drawings in two ways, I have become more interested in making drawings that tell stories. I have adopted a more dogmatic determination to keep going without becoming distracted. The way Leslie is able to concentrate has made me pull my socks up and really get on with it.

After that initial handful of sessions collaborations started to form organically; small at first, using an action figure belonging to Leslie for a bit of animation or giving Barry an alternative kind of paper to do his writing on. Ever since I have just let stuff happen without planning ahead, often working with different artists from week to week. More recently I have been working a lot with David, we have been making some experimental animations using green screen, (or “the ghost town effect” a term coined by David because he had seen it used in the music video by the specials.) we still don’t really know what it is we are doing but we are both just enjoying process for the time being. Looking forward towards the end of the residency I plan to amass all the small chunks of collaborative video work made and into a kind of visual soup. But that might change.

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Will the way you work in collaboration change now moving forward – was there a particular way you approached collaboration before? How has the OutsiderXchangeS project changed your art work? 

I haven’t collaborated on many art projects in the past so I can’t be sure. I’m fairly sure it has in some way affected the way I will work both collaboratively and on my own in the future.

How has it been working with artists who have a learning disability? Is there a difference? If so what is that? 

The difference in the way any two people perceive the world is massive, with the learning disabled artist working on Outsiderxchanges that difference in perception is multiplied wildly. This has made the whole experience insightful, confusing, hilarious in equal measures.

 If there was one thing you felt proud the most about the OutsiderXchangeS project what is that?  – this could be a piece of work, a collaboration, the environment…

 I wouldn’t say I have felt proud for any one piece of work but I was very happy with the reaction the project received at the open studio we held in May. I think people were able to see that this project is about mutual growth, which is important. I am looking forward to pulling all the loose ends together to make something that I am proud of in the coming months.

Horace Reflections

We sat with Horace Lindzey, one of our OutsiderXchangeS artists to find out a little bit more about his work and his experiences on the OutsiderXchangeS project.

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Horace what have you been working on during the project?

“I’ve been working on a big book which shows a lot of things I’m interested in also the different types of people that interest me. One of the main things I’ve been making art around is my old school, a school called Cambrian school.

In my book I’ve brought together a collage of new and old pictures of different schools, but also showing different people’s schools as well. For example I’ve got pictures of Tanya’s school and my mum’s school which was Webster School near Denmark Road.

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Horace a lot of your work seems to focus on your school days and places. Is there any reason for this?

“My school days were good, I also went to Whitworth. This was back in 1977. I was really happy in school and I always think back to my time there. Especially the teachers who aren’t there now, but it is a long time ago.”

I see food and people celebrating features quite a lot as well?

“Seeing pictures of people out enjoying themselves I like very much, so I’ve collected them all in a collage. Food I really like because there are certain foods I’m unable to eat because of diabetes. So foods like Christmas and fruit cake and finding out if people eat them I like to find out. So I ask people questions about food as well. “

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So you’ve taken those questions to the next level working with Juliet and you’ve been conducting a number of interviews?

“Yes I’ve been interviewing lots of people. I’ve been asking them a lot of questions about their schools and weddings. Juliet has been recording them and then we’ve asked them to build their old school out of wooden sticks. That was good to watch.

Also working with Juliet and Sophie I’ve visited my old school and interviewed staff and I also made them both wait till a train came through the local railway bridge. It was very exciting

I’ve also been making art with Rosanne and we broke up old records and made bits of art with them. I quite like this piece of work because I love music and vinyl. Although it is strange, but felt good, to cut up old records.

I’ve enjoyed the work with Rosanne the most because it has included records but the work with Juliet and Sophie has really got me excited as well.”

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Going back to your artist book there looks like there’s a style developing there?

“There is an artist called Peter Blake who James introduced me to. I like the way he takes images and cuts out people and then turns this into his own art. So I’ve done the same. I’ve made art of Last of the Summer Wine, people with spectacles on, people from television history, comedy – like Eric Morecombe and soaps – I very much like Rudolph Walker (Patrick from Eastenders). Using these characters takes me right back to watching television when I was young. But I’ve also used complete strangers and shapes with abstract art, or flowers and body shapes. I’ve even started to use pictures from these workshops we all do on a Wednesday.

So my collaboration has brought about some good art but my little book is like a mini book exhibition about what I like and what work I’m doing now. I’ve curated what goes on each page.

The work I’m proud of the most includes the pictures we captured of the freight train near my old school, the work that’s come from the visits to my old school and of course my book. When we have exhibitions of the project I will feel proud to tell people “I made that”.

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Sophie Lee – Thoughts on Collaboration

This week we posed a number of questions to OutsiderXchangeS artist Sophie Lee focusing on her progress during the project as well as some thoughts on collaboration.

How did you approach collaboration within the project and what difficulties did you discover, how did you overcome them and also what successes have you discovered in collaboration?

I felt it was really important to get to know each other before approaching the collaboration. I spent the first few weeks observing the way others worked and having conversations, becoming familiar with one another and comfortable in the space. For a while I was concerned my pace was too slow, but on reflection this period was very important for me. It was challenging initially to see a way in to collaboration with the artists with learning disabilities as they were very focussed on their own work, it was quite difficult to engage them in an alternative idea. However, over time Horace has become very open to testing ideas with Juliet and myself. Perhaps this is through spending more time together or maybe because the project has quite a heavy focus on Horace’s interest in school. I think it was really beneficial for the three of us to go on a trip to Horace’s old school, he regularly reflects on this shared experience. I feel it brought us together and firmed up our connection to this project.


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Will the way you work in collaboration change now moving forward – was there a particular way you approached collaboration before?

When I’ve worked collaboratively in the past it has been very organic, coming together over a common interest or similarity in ways of working. It was a little overwhelming at first feeling pressure to find this in one another, but through conversation common ground was quickly established between Horace, Juliet and myself. It has been interesting to discuss our shared interest in schools, childhood and our relationship to architecture, but particularly exciting exploring our different approaches in how to communicate these ideas. Moving forward I see huge value in collaboration with artists working in different mediums and with different perspectives. This is really pushing my practice and stimulating my ideas.

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How has the OutsiderXchangeS project changed your art work?

Working on OutsiderXchanges has definitely encouraged me to become more playful in my practice. The focus being shifted on to the process rather than the outcome has helped with freeing me up, as well as working along side such a diverse group of artists.

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How has it been working with artists who have a learning disability? Is there a difference? If so what is that?

The artists with learning disabilities are uninhibited and unpretentious which is really refreshing. It may be quite challenging to discuss the development of projects together, I have found it is better to experiment and reflect on how we feel afterwards. James and Martin have been key in supporting us in this, using questionnaire style worksheets is very helpful in giving a structure to reflection and allowing the artists voice to be heard. Almost always conversations about our collaborative projects go off on a tangent, this is one of the reasons that the work is playful and it really encourages a continued enquiry.

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If there was one thing you felt proud the most about the OutsiderXchangeS project what is that?  – this could be a piece of work, a collaboration, the environment…

I am very proud of the studio environment we have built together, it’s a lovely place to come and work with a different atmosphere each week. Sometimes it’s really calming and others we are belly laughing all day. I’m happy to have met all of the artists and I’m excited to see what comes from our time together. Each artist is making engaging work that is authentic and honest, I am delighted to be showing work alongside them on some established platforms.

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Sarah – Buildings, Architecture and Fashion

During her time on the OutsiderXchangeS project three things have inspired Sarah: Architecture, Sketching and Fashion.

Sarah constantly sketches the world around her and has a huge passion for the buildings around us in the North West.

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“I like to take the tram or bus rides across the region to look at buildings. Recently Wythenshawe Hall had a large fire and I took the structure of the building as inspiration for a collection of clay sculptures. These included the roof, the fireplace and other parts of the building.”

Sarah begins her creative explorations by sketching these buildings or particular details of the buildings:

“I like buildings and like to draw parts of them. Sometimes I’m trying to find some unusal features in a building so I can capture that in a sketch. I’ve explored bridges in Altrincham, Errwood Hall and Wythenshawe Hall, buildings within central Manchester and lots of places that I come across on my journeys. I just sketch them in to my little blue book, to start with these are just little scribbles and what not and then I transpose them into more physical pieces of art, like the clay work I’ve done and currently as part of the leaf clothing on the model dress I’m making.”

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Alongside the clay sculptures Sarah has also been sketching and designing a dress full of artistic flare. The dress has a leaf design within its tailoring and Sarah came up with the idea to merge the two explorations of her work recently – her fashion designs and building sketching. Sarah has now begun to move her sketches of buildings onto tiny leaf fabric and adding them to the small model dress she is constructing. Resulting in each part of the dress being connected to a place and a history. Bringing sketching, architecture and fashion together as one.

David OutsiderXchangeS Reflections

We sat with David today to have a chat about his work and collaborations on the OutsiderXchangeS project. Here are his thoughts:

“I’m trying to make the original painting come alive more by putting bits on top of it.

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I’ve got socks from Southport which have lots of different designs, I picked them because they are colourful and different and they blend in with my painting. They also remind me of the animations I did with Matt early on in this project.

I’ve got some jewellery and beads which I’ve brought from home which a family friend passed on to me, I’m adding them to the picture as well because they are so different.

I like things being different, I like to do something different that no one else has done before. It is unique.

I’ve been looking at different established artists to add elements and how they work into my work and it has ended up looking nothing like their work, but has turned into something quite unique.

It is boring just being the same, it is more exciting to be different and unique.

Collaborating I’ve been working with Matt and animating figures with my work on top of them. This added to my work, because I started to add the shapes of characters into my work. When I’ve completed this it would be great to then go back with Matt and animate the dinosaurs and fishes in my work and to see how they look, I don’t know if that will be possible but that’s the fun of this work and collaboration.

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Today I also did some interesting work with Roseanne which included sound, she has a set up that picks up minute sounds of springs and pen scratches using special microphones that pick up tiny noises. It sounds really unique and unusual. I added and dragged a bead necklace on the microphones which was recorded. This made me think about bringing sound similar to this into my main work, creating abstract noises for the animals and their movement which may then add to the animation work I want to explore with Matt.

Working on this project has been great, the development of using different art, collaborating and my artwork improving as well.”

Open Studios: New Art Spaces Chorlton – 28th May

Coinciding with Chorlton Arts Festival, on the 28th of May OutsiderXchanges will be welcoming the public into their studios to meet the participating artists and gain a unique insight into studio practice and artwork in the development stages of this exciting collaboration. The first public event at Castlefield Gallery’s New Art Spaces Chorlton, join us to see new work by OusiderXchanges artists, locally-based contemporary artists, and enjoy guided tours and a set by a cappella group Vocal Harum.
Meet the artists and find out about New Art Spaces, Castlefield Gallery’s initiative making temporarily empty properties available to artists to develop and present new work.

Artists at New Arts Spaces Chorlton:
James Ackerley
Kamran Ali
Robin Broadley
Jo Clements
COLLAR
Matthew Denniss
Olivia Glasser
Susan Gunn
Elizabeth Kwant
Jane Lawson
LEGROOM
John Lynch
Monty
Lauren Sagar
Claire Tindale
OutsiderXchanges – Venture Arts

The Open Day is part of Chorlton Arts Festival http://www.chorltonartsfestival.com/