Research Topics and Speculation about Art and Public Space by Scottish artist Matt Baker

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

A healthy life and death cycle at eca

Last week I had a life enhancing few days at the Edinburgh College of Art (eca) - I was asked by my good friend Rachel Simmonds to help out with tutoring an Innovation Week was a delightfully easy gig - Rachel had done all the graft of thinking up the idea and getting the materials, students and risk assessments together - all I had to do was join in.

Innovation Week is a week for special one-off projects that involve the collaboration of students across different disciplines. Rachel's project involved students from Animation, Performance Costume, Interior Design, Graphic Design, Fashion, Product Design, Jewellry and Illustration.

These were first year students, across the different disciplines they did not know each other....they were put in teams with no two students from any one discipline.

The project was called the Risk Wall - students attended a series of talks about boundaries, barriers, walls and subversive strategies - they then set out to explore Edinburgh's Flodden Wall - built in the 16th Century to defend the city against English invasion.

Amed with this research and their creativity they were asked to construct a series of customised cardboard boxes that could be built into a new Risk Wall in the eca Sculpture Court at the end of the workshop. Students were asked to think about risks that they, society and the Edinburgh might face today and how a 'wall' might manage these.

The pallet of flatpacked cardboard boxes that were the materials for the Risk Wall
Students under the RiskWall - eca Sculpture Court
Complete Risk Wall and students spelling words for the timelapse camera

An Opening for the whole college
Joyful destruction #1
Joyful destruction #2
Thats it....there is no more
For me this project demonstrated everything that is wonderful about creativity.......collaboration, conceptual thinking, hands-on making and improvisation, a coming together of people and ideas, a reflection, frenzied madness, clearing away and recycling.

In other words a cycle of birth, life and death - all carried out cleanly, creatively and in celebration of life. 

There is a lot of talk at the moment of the role of the creativity in society and the part it could play in helping society to be more healthy in the widest sense of the word.....there is also talk of different forms of 'engagement' and in particular of sharing of 'process' rather than 'product' (eg - here).........The Risk Wall, for me, was an example of a creativity in action which gave a possible clue for how creativity could be part of a wider participative process for wellbeing across our society.

Many thanks to Rachel Simmonds, Ed Hollis and all the students of Year 1 Design School for having me over to play