The first thing Jane Matthews (Exhibition Manager) and I (Amy Gear) did with the groups of artists from each school was to introduce them to the Art World as we currently know it in Shetland.
The first thing most artists do when inspired to make an artwork is to research their chosen subject and so we researched the art world inside the gallery. Bussed to Bonhoga in the dark morning light of winter, each school took their turn to look at David Mach’s collages, illuminated brightly by the gallery’s spotlights. Some of the young artists had been to a gallery before, some hadn’t. Everybody’s understanding of what art is is different and this will make for a great variety of artwork in the final show.
Each workshop, each day, the cold had made its way inside the old mill, where D.C. Thomson’s illustrated war stories had been torn into new narratives by David Mach. The first collaboration we made as a group was a simple one – the mass of our bodies, and Bonhoga’s lights worked together in heating the gallery space. Together, the current art world and us heated the room to a comfortable temperature within 5 minutes.
We all studied Mach’s work, moving around the room: Why did he do this? What is his work about? Is this memorable? What makes art memorable? What is he saying to us? Jane was there to tell us about hanging the show, and about Mach. But how did he get from making huge sculptures made of tyres, to making tiny detailed collages…?
Artists do research and along the way gather more and more materials, and more and more subject matters, like a snowball gathering momentum and scale as it rolls down a hill. To demonstrate this we played a game of word association. In this game you say the first thing that comes to your head, influenced by the word said by the person next to you. For Example:
WORLD – MOON – CHEESE – COW – MILK – WATER – WINE – GRAPES – BERRY – BIRD – BEE – FLOWER – LEAVES – PHOTOSYNTHESIS – SUN – STARS – NIGHT – MORNING – BREAKFAST – TOAST – BREAD – FULL – STOMACH – HUNGRY – FOOD – DRINK – GLASS – GLASSES – SEE – LOOK – FIND – SHELL – BEACH – SEAL
Starting at WORLD we ended up at SEAL – this is a metaphor for the entire project, for the Art World. We will start off in one place, and end up being influenced by each other, and the world around us, and end up somewhere completely different – like a giant game of art world consequences. I have no idea what the finished item will look like and that is the most exciting part of this project.