Working with groups of university students (including London School of Architecture, Clay College, University for the Creative Arts, University of the Arts Camberwell, and Central Saint Martins) we have delivered several Useful Parallels events.
Useful Parallels exists as a day of cross disciplinary workshops, demonstrations and discussions lead by members of the Art Workers’ Guild, exploring disciplines such as stone-carving, wallpaper design, weaving, mosaic, wood-carving and paper sculpture, to name but a few.
It is designed to open up ideas and skills that students might not otherwise encounter, and to offer a chance to hear from different creative practitioners about how they have developed their work and how they make their living. Just as foreign travel expands the understanding of home, so an insight into other disciplines can enhance makers’ understanding of their own practice.
Students spend a day at the Guild, where Guild members set up demonstration ‘stations’ with tools, equipment, and materials. In the morning, students are free to move from station to station, talking to the demonstrators, handling tools and having a go. Students then sign up for one particular discipline in the afternoon session, to experience it in greater depth, and to discuss and discover parallels, differences and comparable problems, in a two-hour workshop.
An additional goal for the event is to encourage professional networking between students at different colleges, raising awareness of the interconnectedness of various crafts as well as the student’s own career progression.
Feedback from participants:
I thought the ‘surgical’ approach to embroidery was really interesting, and helpful for a different way of thinking in 3 dimensions.
Working directly with various materials leads to a clearer structural understanding.
Experts are still learning, learning with hands / through making.
I saw knitting and crochet as a very technical, pattern-based practice. Today I was introduced to a more organic approach to these materials and techniques that is closer to drawing. This will inform my practice for ever!
Hannah Staber UCA Farnham Textiles/Knit
The atmosphere was wonderfully intense but relaxed provoking an enormous amount of food for thought...principles that give coherence to all these activities - beyond speech or writing
Gunter Kress University College London/Institute of Education
Working with Rachael Matthews was a real revelation...learning about crochet & the creative possibilities of shape...I was amazed by the technique…
Nicky O’Donnell CSM Textiles/Crochet