Coulson & Tennant
Recent work by Ruxanda Lupu
30 October 2019
We announce the projects selected for the Crafting Futures Grant 2019. Discover the projects, people and international collaborations exploring new ideas to support the future of craft.
Working in collaboration with the Crafts Council, the British Council invited proposals for the 2019 Crafting Futures Grant Scheme; one of the projects in our Crafting Futures programme which is now active in over 20 countries.
With over 100 applications for this year's open call, we have awarded eight research grants, with a value of up to £5,000 each, for UK-based practitioners, researchers, or anyone interested in craft, to travel overseas and undertake projects with local communities or practitioners which explore ideas or questions supporting the future of craft. These projects will take place between November 2019 and April 2020 in the following locations:
• Tbilisi, Georgia
• Sisimiut, Greenland
• Yupukari, North Rupununi, Guyana
• West Java, Indonesia
• Catania, Sicily, Italy
• Condega, Nicaragua
• Michoacán, Mexico
• Tonahuixtla, Pebula, Mexico
“This year has been exciting for the Crafting Futures Grant Scheme. We had a 150% increase in applications from last year’s round with proposals from all kinds of practices – print-making, ceramics, earth-building, fashion, basketry and more. The number of applications demonstrates the significance of the craft sector in the UK, and the desire to come together to collaborate and exchange. Whether the applicants were students, teachers, makers, designers, business managers, schools or small organisations, there was an overwhelming theme amongst applications around how craft could be pivotal in addressing global challenges, such as climate change, social inclusion, the reduction of inequalities or peace-building. It paints a really exciting future, where craft and making are integral in shaping the world.”
Kendall Robbins, Senior Programme Manager – Crafting Futures
About the Grantees
Jay Mistry: Yupukari, North Rupununi, Guyana
Jay Mistry is an activist ceramic artist and researcher with a focus on supporting local livelihoods and promoting ecological sustainability and social justice. In addition to her work as a potter, she is the Professor of Environmental Geography at Royal Holloway University of London.
Through Crafting Futures, Jay will collaborate with Caiman House in the village Yupukari, North Rupununi, Guyana to explore how the ceramic practice of indigenous potters can be enhanced to promote collective identity, self-worth and economic development. Through the collaboration with the local potters from the Makushi and Wapishana people, a digital and print sketchbook will be produced for discussion on the value of craft and identity with other indigenous groups, governments and international organisations.
Lesley Millar and Simon Olding - Crafts Study Centre and International Textile Research Centre, University for the Creative Arts: Tbilisi, Georgia
Professor Lesley Millar MBE is Professor of Textile Culture and Director of the International Textile Research Centre at the University for the Creative Arts (UCA) working with Professor Simon Olding, Director of the Crafts Study Centre (CSC) at UCA, the university museum of modern craft. Through their Crafting Futures project, they will develop a partnership with the Georgian Arts and Craft Centre and the Tbilisi State Academy in order to address how historic textiles from Georgia could be re-imagined through contemporary analysis, fabrication and reworking by two contemporary textile artists: one from the UK and one from Georgia. Using this international collaboration as a case study, they will look at how this approach could offer a new model of working to bring a traditional textile practice into a contemporary light and shed meaning on its cultural identities.
West Java West Yorkshire Cooperative Movement (Pavilion/ Jatiwangi Art Factory): West Java, Indonesia
Established in 2018, West Java West Yorkshire Cooperative Movement (WJWYCM) is a framework to enable creative dialogue between the regions of West Yorkshire in the UK, and West Java in Indonesia. Established in 2018 by Pavilion (UK), Jatiwangi Art Factory (ID) and artist George Clark, WJWYCM aims to facilitate cultural and social exchange between people and communities in West Java and West Yorkshire through recognition and investigation of our shared past, present and potential future.
WJWYCM will support a female UK ceramic artist/practitioner to produce a new collaborative project with two established collectives of young women in Jatiwangi and Leeds (aged 13–25). The Leeds group, known as the Art School for Rebel Girls; ten young women who have been working together since 2017. They are supported by Pavilion through an annual programme of creative workshops and mentoring. Inspired by Art School for Rebel Girls, an equivalent group of young women formed in Jatiwangi in 2018. The project will explore what type of ceramic objects could be created by women aged 13 – 25 to confront social, cultural and economic challenges with the potential for creating new craft traditions in the face of globalisation.
Ione Maria Rojas: Michoacán, Mexico
Ione Maria Rojas is a British-Mexican ecological and social artist based in rural Devon working with printmaking, horticulture, land-based work, therapeutic facilitation, writing and community engagement.
Ione will investigate how clay can catalyse a reconnection with soil, earth and environment through a collaboration with Mexican potter Gustavo Bernal and the Guapamacátaro Center for Art and Ecology; a site-based and community-oriented initiative where artists from different disciplines, scientists, educators and activists converge in Michoacán, Mexico to foster culture, collaboration and sustainable development. They will ask how the experience of turning soil into craft can spark a curiosity towards self-sufficiency, sustainability and sacredness.
Helen Shears and Bee Rowan: Condega, Nicaragua
Helen Shears and Bee Rowan will travel to Nicaragua to work with the Asociación Mujeres Constructoras de Condega (AMCC) – Association of Women Builders of Condega; an autonomous organisation with extensive experience in technical training and women’s rights. Helen Shears has recently returned to the UK, having dedicated the last thirty years to focusing on the empowerment of women and young people through learning and working in different technical skills and trades, including alternative energy technologies and natural building techniques. Bee Rowan is Director of Strawbuild and has more than twenty years’ experience of working in sustainable construction materials, inspiring and teaching others to be able to work successfully in the field.
The collaborative proposal aims to contribute to global work on heritage-at-risk through a bespoke piece of research that explores and presents work with women in the revival of earth building in their communities. They will address how young women, when they acquire traditional building skills and have the right opportunities and conditions, are able to create positive change in their immediate surroundings.
Saskia Coulson and Colin Tennant: Sisimiut, Greenland
Dr Saskia Coulson and Colin Tennant are award-winning photographers and filmmakers based in Scotland. They use visual narratives to tell stories about the lives of people, communities, the environment, social challenges and other contemporary issues. Through their project they will collaborate with the Sisimiut & Kangerlussuaq Museums in Greenland to understand how craft can lead environmental sustainability and government environmental policy through the example of craft makers in Greenland – considering their use of local materials and how climate change is literally shifting the landscape of their creative practices. Through visual storytelling, they will explore how the field research can act as a catalyst for discussions across the Arctic and Sub-Arctic, including in Scotland through a collaboration with Upland.
Ruxandra Lupu: Catania, Sicily, Italy
Ruxandra is a visual artist and currently a PhD candidate at the University of Leeds, exploring novel forms of presentation and representation of the Sicilian audio-visual heritage. In parallel to her PhD project she is leading the WEAR-ABOUTS initiative, an innovative project funded by the WORTH Partnership project and focusing on interactive clothes for children that operate at the crossroads between illustration, fashion, tourism and cultural heritage.
Working with the Academy of Fine Arts Catania and Fablab Catania in Sicily, the project will question how we can use printmaking to encourage new and sustainable collaborative structures, able to generate more responsible production and consumption models inside the fashion industry. The project calls for design-driven solutions that are able to use printmaking as a lens for building new paradigms for the production and distribution of fashion products.
Giuliana Mazzetta: Tonahuixtla, Pebula, Mexico
Giuliana Mazzetta is a London-based consultant and business designer. Her project will look at how craft ventures can be empowered to understand and navigate the commercial market through business design. The project will be delivered in collaboration with Mexican designer Fernando Laposse and Totomoxtle, an initiative working with the indigenous Mixte people in Tonahuixtla, a community previously vulnerable to unemployment due to industrialised farming. Totomoxtle is a new textile created using the husks of heirloom corn which are usually wasted. Giuliana will assess the system design of the initiative and, through a co-created approach with the Mixte community, create a new set of tools and a framework specifically for craft businesses seeking social impact and environmental sustainability.
To find out more about the Crafting Futures Programme, click here.