As we begin working on this year’s Croshare projects, we experience of one of the things that pops up again and again: the generosity of people we’ve never before met. Over the last year, we’ve received gifts of advice, contacts, connections, networking, promotion, goods and services from a significant number of people, all given with one aim: helping us advance our artistic and artisanal practices to achieve our goals.
The period just before and just after new year is a wonderful time to both look back on the accomplishments of the previous year, and to think about what may await you over the coming months. It’s a good way to make use of the peculiar ‘limbo’ between Christmas and the new year, during which time appears to stand still – but, that might just be a symptom of eating one too many mince pies. Who knows?
As we hold more Croshare sessions, I realise that the project is so much more than merely teaching and learning crochet skills. For the relatively brief duration of each session, we end up creating a small community of people. Often these people have never met before and their prior knowledge of crochet varies. Yet after a just a short time together, we find that we are sharing more than skills. Participants also share stories and life experiences. These are as varied as the crochet skills that they bring to the session. Holding the hook and yarn, participants relax and start to bond with each other.
Having trained to teach English as a second language, I am familiar with structured learning, and the typical relationships between a teacher and their students. I am familiar with the hierarchies present in most learning environments, and appropriate balances of formality and informality. These help, for the most part, create an appropriate environment in which learning and teaching, and all associated processes, take place. It’s interesting to have noted that all of this practically goes out the window when it comes to Croshare.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – SATURDAY 04 JUNE 2016
CROSHARE – PARTICIPATORY ART AND CRAFT AT ANTIUNIVERSITY NOW 2016
Part crochet workshop, part participatory art project, part good old-fashioned get together, Croshare heads to Aspex, a contemporary gallery in Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth, on Saturday 11 June as part of the nationwide programme of Antiuniversity Now 2016 events.
When someone asks me what kind of artist am I, I reply that I have a socially engaged practice. ‘What does that mean?’ Many ask with a confused look on their face. Most of my work can’t happen without some kind of engagement with one or more participants. Through my practice, I hope to facilitate dialogues between artist and participant, participant and participant, and artist, participant and the work. When one works in this socially engaged way, one never quite knows if an event is going to be successful. I try to say to myself, ‘that it is art and therefore cannot fail’. Yes, it is possible that an event might not turn out as I had hoped but it cannot ‘fail’. The worst that can happen is that no one turns up or that they don’t engage as I had hoped and so I learn and make adjustments for next time.
I love putting a hook and some yarn in the hands of a complete beginner. You can see this perfect balance of excitement and fear in their eyes as they wonder if they’ll ever be able to make something that resembles what they see in books or on the Internet. Picking up my own hook and yarn again for the second Croshare event since the project was conceived in 2013 made me feel as though I were learning how to be an artist again for the first time; I was excited and nervous in equal measure as each participant came through the door, and wondered what I would learn as I taught them how to crochet.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – WEDNESDAY 06 APRIL 2016
CROSHARE – PARTICIPATORY ART AND CRAFT AT SITE FESTIVAL 2016
Part crochet workshop, part participatory art project, part good old-fashioned get together, Croshare comes to 13a Bedford Street, Stroud on Saturday 23 April as part of Site Festival 2016.