Travelling to Japan for such a period of time was a significant undertaking and one I am very proud of doing as a Churchill Fellow. I saw and experienced so much that it is very hard to put it all down on paper (screen!)
I found my trip extremely rewarding and learnt so much. I am creating a body of work next to explore some of the techniques that i’ve learnt in Japan and to express some of the ideas I learnt about. My studio work will be forever changed I think, with the subtle shifts that I have made since my trip.
My work is as an artist and so the changes that will take place will come through my work and my teaching first which is already happening. What was very strange for me was to have all these new experiences whilst I was away but to not have a space to work and think with my hands very much. I think through materials and so coming back to my studio now is almost the second phase of my research trip – to put the thinking into action. I am dedicating this next year to cementing my thinking and new skills in the studio and am looking forward to where this will take me.
This heightened appreciation for sharing craft skills has lead me to develop a Metal Club in the uk; a space where people can come together and learn various techniques of metalworking. I have worked as a metalworker for over 20yrs (from Jeweller’s apprentice right through to now as an artist and educator) and would like to share those skills outside of higher education.
The Factory Festival was I really exciting experience, I think we have a lot we could learn from this in the UK. I am working with some external people to look at how these ideas could be implemented.
Something like the factory festival could work really well in the UK, but it is the regional identities that make it work here so well. To mark a region as ‘x’ being the capital of ‘x’ in the UK would be really helpful in establishing this thinking.
In the UK, historically, we had regional characteristics lots stemming from the industrial revolution; Nottingham is famous for lace, Sheffield is the steel city, Northamtonshire is the ‘Shoe making capital of the world’ Welsh lamb is world famous, as is Scottish whisky. But now these are single items rather than regional identities. What would it be like if we cultivated stronger regional identities in terms of manufacturing? Can the market for certain goods be boosted by regional identities, build and nurtured to support these business endeavours?