The aim of this blog is to share my experiences of collaboration and over the coming weeks, I am going to use it to think through issues that have come up during various attempts at collaboration and share them with you. I hope you find my comments useful…
The collaborative nature of my practice can be divided into two distinct camps. Firstly, there are the direct collaborations – the most recent of these is with composer and playwright Ailis ni Riain; but I have also worked with a poet, an electronic musician and a gallery collections officer amongst others; then there is also a long-standing collaboration with my Rogue Studios (Manchester) colleague, Cherry Tenneson.
Each collaboration has taught me (and continues to teach me) an enormous amount, perhaps most importantly I have discovered that the end result of collaboration is work that would never, ever have come to fruition otherwise… Just imagine those millions of possible artworks wafting about in the ether waiting to emerge during a shared studio session, or conversation, or email exchange: it takes more than the will and imagination of one person alone to make them come to life.
For simplicity’s sake, I am going to call the other type of collaboration I undertake indirect collaboration. This is basically the way in which I try to incorporate what I learn from other cultural practitioners (artists, designers, film-makers, authors, musiciansetc.) into my own work. This is not just about appropriation (though I am drawn to that activity), but more about trying to think about how each artwork I makes fits into the general art-historical conversation going on all around. Last year, I began to formulate a set of rules to follow in the creation of new pieces, the fifth of which, “Acknowledge your heroes and pay your debts”, basically sums up the notion of indirect collaboration… even when I am undertaking solo projects, I still feel like I am collaborating.