More Than Sum Parts: Exhibition News! - The Open College of the Arts
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More Than Sum Parts: Exhibition News!

Kym (Coratin) Walker and Steve Meyfroidt are delighted their work ‘fragile power’ is currently on display in the RE:FORM Exhibition at Florence Arts Centre, North Cumbria. 

Fig.1. fragile power hanging on Florence Arts Centre gallery wall and accompanying text (2021)

Kym and Steve share some thoughts on their collaborative experience:

Steve: For me, this collaboration began simultaneously in two places: a call to collaborate in a local crit group, and connecting with Kym and the newly-formed OCA ArtScientific Collective.. One of the North Cumbria Crit Group artists had suggested a collaboration based on her earlier work, Found Constellations, that explored Cumbria’s industrial and railway heritage, so we were all handed a geometric shape – one of the Constellations – to respond to. I started with pen and paper which became a drawing I sensed could turn into an algorithm to make some generative work.

At this point the ArtScientific Collective asked for a response to the word ‘allele’, which led down a path of mutating the shape-drawing algorithm in response to Kym’s poetic role-play of Mother Nature. It was a journey into the unknown: we came together to collaborate but had no fixed idea where it would take us. We spent weeks going with the flow, evolving our ecosystem of poetry and drawing between Cumbria and London, responding both to Found Constellations and to Allele, generation after generation of work becoming more and more baroque, before cycling back to a contemplative tone.

We had enough material to consider turning our words and images into a book. Then the Cumbria crit group came into the picture again with the idea of holding an exhibition of the work we’d all produced. A book format might not work for an exhibition, so we changed direction, gradually iterating towards the idea of our poetry/drawing banners that eventually became “about” the state of Mother Nature, as well as being a living demonstration of the mechanisms of evolution that encouraged viewers to look very closely at the work.

The collaboration, unexpected and long-lived, had a wonderful life of its own. It will no doubt continue in the future and we may even make the book that we envisioned at one point along our journey!

Link to short video of the exhibition:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tRGlxUKY2KE .

Kym: May 2021. A chance connection between a drawing and a painting student. On the Discuss Forum I said: ‘Anyone interested in Art and Science?’ Yes, Steve said. Connection led to connections, creativity sparked creativity. The ArtScientific Collaborative was born and work began. Who’d have guessed that 7 months later our ‘allele’ project has evolved into fragile power, a machine-drawn prose-poetry artwork displayed on the walls of a public gallery?! How would I describe this amazing process?: challenging, fun, hard work, eye-opening, sometimes frustrating, always stimulating, some blood/sweat and tears, tons of laughing, a bit of swearing (me) and tearing hair out (Steve, metaphorically) – and reams of emails and masses of text messages, not to mention a fair few phone calls. Oh yes, and 9th hour cock-ups: Steve’s machine-pen wearing out through over-work, my mis-spelling an ant’s antenna blotting the beautiful landscape of the last remaining sheet of Khadi paper…

The process pushed me out of my comfort zone, allowed me to reconnect with my artist-writer self, enabled me to connect with an artist I would never have connected with, discovering that artists who might seem polar opposites can combine their creative energies to create something previously unimaginable. It is only on reflection that I fully understand this marvellous process, appreciate the commitment, skills learned through working honestly and respectfully with another artist.One of the most amazing things to come out of the collaboration is how the ‘result’ – the banners/the drawings/the poetry has become meaningful and relevant to real concerns in this real world: how we – us human beings, not just artists and scientist, owe it to this wonderful beautiful threatened fragile planet to do something to save it. What this collaborative process demonstrates, indeed, confirms, is not merely the lovely benefits of collaboration, but, in a wider sense, the necessity.

List of Illustrations:

  • Fig.1. Meyfroidt, S., (Coratin) Walker, K.  (2021) fragile power hanging on Florence Arts Centre gallery wall and accompanying text [In possession of: the authors: Cumbria, London.

By Steve Meyfroidt and Kym (Coratin) Walker

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Posted by author: Kym Walker
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5 thoughts on “More Than Sum Parts: Exhibition News!

  • Thanks for your story, Kym and Steve. It’s encouraging to see the way your collaboration worked across disciplines and locations!

  • There are several interesting peer led collectives, crit groups and reading groups in the painting and drawing departments and I am sure across OCA. The art science collective has been a pioneer and it is great to see two of its leading lights collaborating curatorially. x

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