Make Works Tour in Inverness #thisismakeworks

This morning I got out and about to attend the Make Works Tour and Creative Industries Information Day at Cowan House in Inverness.

The day was hosted by HIE and emergents, and led by the lovely Fi and Vana from Make Works.  Fi Scott founded Make Works during her final year studying product design at Glasgow School of Art, after an internship in Brooklyn Fi returned with a realisation that it’s not that easy to find the practical means  to get things made here. She found after talking to a number of designers, makers, artists, craftspeople, architects, creative practices and manufactures in Scotland, they also expressed a need to be more closely connected with industry, machines, materials and the whole design to production process.  And Make Works was born.

Make Works Tour in Inverness

Make Works Tour in Inverness

The organisation itself is independent and design-led, it aims to celebrate and debate making, manufacture and materials, while connecting design with local industry. Their big project is the Make Works directory. The goal is to create a digital platform providing practical and relevant information about how to get things made in Scotland – from prototype to wholesale manufacture, this would be a directory for makers, manufacturers, factories, specific machinery, material suppliers and workshop or studio space.

Fi and Vana spoke very passionately about their vision to see Scotland’s craft and design industry, whether small cottage industries to large-scale manufacturing plants, showcased, documented and utilised by skilled designers and makers up and down the country.

I myself have come across a number of maker’s in the past who are looking to outsource or have products manufactured for them and simply can’t find, with ease, the right factories or companies in Scotland with the tools and know-how to do what they require. In one instance a maker ended up using an Indian based company despite her best efforts to want to use a Scottish company.

In some ways the Make Works directory will become our very own product design and producing online dating service. We want to be able, as makers and designer, to know who to approach, how to approach them and how to strike deals with manufacturers or people with the tools/skills we need to realise our design dreams.

Bashing out ideas for Make Works

Bashing out ideas for Make Works

What make’s the Make Works directory unique is its approach to collecting and displaying the data they are gathering at the moment while on their tour of Scotland. Instead of your bog standard name and contact details, Fi and Vana are visiting and meeting with the people who run these businesses, interviewing them, and producing short 90 second videos to accompany each entry into the database so we, the users of said directory, can actually see who the business is, what they do and how they do it.

The session today at HIE was looking at what our experiences are with production in Scotland and how we might want to use a directory like this. One of the things which was very much supported by all designers, makers and other interested parties at the session, was that we want to be able to say that our products are ‘Made in Scotland’ – completely. Not just that the company is  based in Scotland, that the materials might be from Scotland, but that the whole production process and therefore the making of the products are 100% Scottish.

Encouragingly Fi and Vana said they have been surprised and delighted by the number of creative businesses and manufacturers out there, and that there really isn’t any obvious gaps in the market. Which is fantastic for us makers, it’s just a matter of connecting the two together and making some beautiful work together.

The Make Works tour is currently under way, as Fi and Vana travel around the whole of Scotland in their Tartan VW camper called Rhubarb – you can follow the tour on their website and by following #makeworkstour

The aim is to launch the directory next April – so watch their space!

New Favourite Thing: Infographics

Information graphics or infographics are visual representations of information, data or knowledge designed to present information quickly and clearly. Although infographics have been around for many years the recent proliferation of easy-to-use, free tools, have made the creation of infographics available to anyone.

What is an infographic?

an infographic is

Infographic to explain what an Infographic is by Hot Butter Studio

According to Inforgaphics Archive the history of infographics data back to early prehistory, where humans created graphics through cave paintings and later maps. One of the earliest maps to be recorded is the map at Catalhoyuk  which dates back to 7500 BCE. In 3000 BC ancient Egyptians used heiroglyphic symbols to tell stories depicting their lives, work and religion and perhaps one of the most recognisable infographic in the UK is the 1st tube map of London in 1933 showing only the lines of transit routes and stations.

First London tube map 1933

First London tube map 1933

In the 2000s and 2010s we now have access to web based infographic creators such as:

I’ve been experimenting with easel.ly for the last couple of months, it’s currently a beta site, but it is really easy to use and I can see the long term potential. The main downside to this site and I would imagine others is the database of  graphics and visuals you have available to you. Easel.ly is limited but as a beta site this is understandable. There is  the ability  to upload your own graphics or images, however these are imported as a solid block image, so if you want to overlay your own graphics without a white background onto your carefully selected infographic background this can be difficult. However with a bit of creativity you can work around the limitations to produce some pretty cool inforgraphics of your own.

Before the doors closed on the organisation I previously worked for I was able to pull together three infographics of the projects I was involved with. These were not only great at demonstrating to collegeues and potential business contacts what it is that I have done over the last four years, but it provided me with a real sense of achievement when I saw four years of hard work laid out in a easily understood pictorial.

HI-Arts Audience Development

HI-Arts Audience Development: Marketing, Research and Audience Development support for the cultural, creative and heritage sector

HI-Arts Craft Development

HI-Arts Craft Development Programmes for Craft Makers and Designers in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland

Growing Audiences North East Infographic

Growing Audiences North East: Audience Development for the Cultural Sector in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire

If you are interested in designing your own infographic I would definitely recommend easel.ly and here are a couple of tips to get you going:

  • The Purpose; what do you want your infographic to depict? What is the point of it?  And who do you envisage reading it?
  • The Data; you need a good assortment of data and information to be able to present and to make it interesting. Look at your diary, your accounting, your social media, your website stats, the number of people you have worked with  or met, the places you have visited… the data you choose will depend on the reason you are creating the infographic in the first place.
  • The Theme; when picking your background or theme (colour scheme, background image, the graphics)  think about how these relate to the data you are trying to represent graphically. If your going to depict the number of miles you’ve travelled say, then you might want to use a graphic of a car or public transport.
  • It’s not always about the percentages; I will admit that I can overdose on percentages, they’re neat and tidy, but over use of a percentage can be a bit uninteresting, so try to mix it up. So if you know 25%  of the people who visit your website also visit your blog then why not express it as 1 in 4 people visit your blog.
  • Less is more; it can be tempting to fit in as much information as you can, but sometimes less definitely is more, especially if you are trying to get across a particular point. With the infographics I designed I started out with twice as much data as I ended up displaying.
  • Get someone else to check it makes sense; because we understand our data and know what it means to us doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone else will too. It’s good then to get someone who is not as closely related to the information to read it over and see if they come to the conclusions or understand your graphic the way you intended.

If you are interested in having your own infographic made for you then do get in touch with me by leaving a comment below.

Inverness Castle and Ness River

New Beginnings

As of June HI-Arts, the cultural development agency for the Highlands and Islands, closed its doors after 20 years of providing support to the cultural and creative sectors of the Highlands, Islands, North East and beyond. I was privileged enough to work there for four years, where I was able to hone my skills, develop my knowledge and work with a talented group of individuals across Scotland.

This month I have set out on my own, as a freelancer based in Inverness, I aim to continue to work with the cultural and creative sector, as well as the tourism sector and with small businesses or all persuasions. My focus will be on marketing, promotion and audience (or customer) development, and after working so closely with numerous small businesses in the creative field on making the most of the digital and online world, there will be a slant towards taking advantage of the world wide web.

I’ve since started a 9 month contract with Strathpeffer Pavilion, a beautiful 19th century spa building in the lovely little village of Strathepeffer, about 30 minutes away from Inverness. The Pavilion is the UK’s most northerly Spa and now runs as a multi-purpose venue for the community, the Ross and Cromarty area, Inverness and beyond. The Pavilion puts on live music events, theatre, classical concerts, craft and food, arts and photography fairs, weddings and conferences. In the last couple of months it has doubled it’s staff members and has an eye to becoming the provider of choice for all types of entertainment and events in the Highlands.

I’ve been brought on board with Kris Reid to assist the team in developing and improving their branding, marketing and promotion, press and media relations, programming, sales and income generation, audience development, sponsorship and friends schemes – so quite a bit to do.

I’ll also be continuing to work with Pamela Conacher and Avril Souter on their crafts development programme, which has now joined with Peter Urpeth’s writing programme to form a new organisation; emergents. I am delighted to be able to continue to provide marketing and development support and advice to the many makers on the Making Progress and Made to Measure schemes over the next year.

To top all this off, I’m going to continue to work with HIE on their IT Engagement Programme, as a specialist advisor and trainer, specifically in social media. In the last year I’ve delivered workshops in Dornoch, Orkney, Oban and Caithness.

Over the next couple of months I’m also working on setting up a social media marketing  business – so watch this space!

If anyone is interested in finding out more about the services I can offer please do get in touch sian.jamieson@gmail.com

The Source Project

The Source

The Source

   THE SOURCE PROJECT FORUMS: INVITATION 
   


The Source Project Team would like to invite you to join them at one of three upcoming forums taking place in Glasgow, Perth and Edinburgh. The Source project is now is in its 2nd year, working with 42 arts organisations across Scotland. The Source is a collaborative project between the Federation of Scottish Theatre, Culture Sparks and The Audience Business. Since its inception, the project has provided participating organisations with audience data reports, training and development. 


The Source works closely with Experian to deliver Mosaic Scotland audience data analysis to arts organisations participating in the project. At the upcoming forums, Experian will discuss ways in which other sectors have used Mosaic profiling to their benefit – so that we in the arts and cultural sector can benefit from their knowledge! The forums are open to anyone operating in the arts and cultural sector in Scotland, not just those involved in the Source project. 

In addition, the Source project team will present the Scottish arts attendance benchmark to date, so you as a practitioner can gain valuable insight and intelligence about arts attenders both nationally and regionally. 


DATES FOR THE DIARY: The Source Forums, July/Aug ’10, RSVP
West:     27th July ’10      Venue TBC, Glasgow, 10:30am – 12:30pm 

North:     28th July ’10      Horsecross Arts, Perth, 2 – 4pm 

East:      24th Aug ’10      Venue TBC, Edinburgh, 10am – 12noon 

Please RSVP with your choice of forum to Nina Honeyman 

e: nina@culturesparks.co.uk  


Look forward to seeing you there! Best wishes, The Source Project Team 

This is it. This is Craft.

Made It! Exhibition 2010

Made It! Exhibition 2010

 Intellectual, physical, unique, challenging, beautiful, useful, tactile, extraordinary, cutting-edge, innovative, aesthetic, visual, thought-provoking, handmade, multi-disciplined, cultural, designed, artefacts, visual, sensitive…is this contemporary craft?

In recent years contemporary craft makers have been challenging our perceptions of what craft is, pushing the boundaries of traditional craftsmanship and emerging to represent a new, innovative and exciting art form. Jenny Deschenes, Laura West, Lucy Woodley and Daniel Kavanagh, four makers from across the Highlands and Islands, demonstrate in their joint exhibition Made It! the ingenuity, passion and creativity that contemporary craft is today.

The Highlands and Islands have long been a natural home for craft, its inspiring landscapes, rich mythology and wealth of natural materials, have contributed to the rise in interest and desire to understand, see and own Scottish craft, from both the traditional and contemporary sides of the spectrum. Craft is an integral part of the economic, social and cultural life of the Highlands and Islands, and its diversity combined with the increasing professionalism of the sector has opened up greater opportunities for growth, both for makers and for craft audiences. 

In order to sustain, grow and advance such a culturally rich and engaging art form, contemporary craft has been the focus of a number of initiatives set up and delivered by the HI-Arts Craft Development team. To support the emerging professional contemporary crafts makers in the Highlands and Islands HI-Arts launched the Making Progress programme back in November 2009. The mentoring and business support scheme was designed to support mid-career makers, demonstrating exceptional potential in their chosen field, and enable them to develop new work, be supported by talented and established Highland makers through mentorship, to exhibit their work, and develop their understanding of curating, marketing and management. 

Ceramics, textiles, wood and jewellery are the dominant disciplines for the Scottish craft scene; however the four makers selected for the Making Progress programme represent the diversity of contemporary craft today.

Jenny Deschenes A Chair

Made It! Jenny Deschenes

 Drawing together vintage fabrics with textile design, Jenny Deschenes’ work highlights how a maker can bring the old and the modern together with style and exciting flair. “I am interested in the intimacy of old fabric, to keep the character of old cloth but yet to infuse it with a new modernity and style.”

Laura West has reinvented the way bookbinding can be infused with art and craft. West has created her own signature range of unique artefact books which take inspiration from historical and multi-cultural book structures, “they are unique and contemporary artefacts meant to inspire the user and enhance them or their surroundings.”  

Daniel Kavanagh works with fine art ceramics which demonstrate both a classical and contemporary style, and is developing a fusion of bronze and ceramics to create unique and inspirational sculptural forms. 

Working from her studio in Tain, Lucy Woodley takes inspiration from her local environment, the sea and its many creatures finding itself as Woodley’s muse. Woodley’s jewellery brings together silver, gold, slate and sandblasted glass to create the sense of the flotsam and jetsam of the ocean. 

Made It! Spotlight Show Laura West

Made It! Spotlight Show Laura West

I was able to catch up with two of the Maker’s; Daniel Kavanagh and Laura West, to talk about their experience of the Mentoring Programme. The programme was designed to give these maker’s the freedom and support to explore their full potential, as West explains; “the mentoring process was like being given ‘permission’ to explore new materials and ways of working in order to come up with a whole new collection of work”. 

As maker’s based and working in the more remote and rural areas of Scotland it was important that through the mentoring programme there was a greater sense of community around their own artistic craftsmanship. Kavanagh felt he had really benefited from the experience as the “opportunity to be part of a collective group of makers has been a new experience … and one that has provided a lot of insight and reflection, just being able to share ideas about your work and the practical parts of exhibiting and applying to shows as well as the more humanistic opportunity to talk about the stresses and positives that being a maker can present has provided support and guidance that has allowed me to feel less isolated and more informed”. 

Made It! Mentors and Mentees

Made It! Mentors and Mentees

If anything the mentorship programme not only enabled these maker’s the time and space to focus on their craft and develop beyond their comfort zones, but gave them the confidence to face the future as a professional craft maker. “I feel excited by the future and what I have learnt on the programme and believe that this is a valuable experience for any maker at any stage of their career, it is easy to get bogged down by the day-to-day commitments and to have an opportunity to work in a structured way has allowed me to view both my work and my development in a new light”, Kavanagh explains. West echo’s this sentiment, admitting that the pieces she created for her Spotlight show “opened up a whole new range of possibilities in my work…No binder that I know of has attempted to move into the world of fashion in the way that I am attempting”. 

But the experience also had a profound affect on the mentors involved; Gilly Langton and Eileen Gatt. Gatt worked with Jenny Desenches and Lucy Woodley who felt the mentoring programme ‘has been a very rewarding experience, seeing [Lucy and Jenny] develop and become clearer about their career path. The mentoring process has been a very positive experience for everyone involved and it has proven to be a two way process, as I have gained a lot in terms of networking opportunities and the exchange of ideas and contacts has been valuable”. 

The theme of the exchange of ideas is a prevalent one across the Made It! Exhibition, with works on display, courtesy of the Craft Council, from notable maker’s such as Rupert Spira and Tord Boontje, the four maker’s were able to draw on collection items which have inspired their own practice, to exhibit alongside their work. 

Immersive Recordings

Immersive Recordings

Another exchange of ideas culminates in what might be perceived to be a video installation, but on closer inspection are videos of each of the maker’s and their mentors working from their own studios on their craft. HI-Arts partnered with Distance Lab to create these immersive and extraordinary insights into the world of the craft maker. Distance lab is a creative research institute bringing together digital media technology, design and the arts to redefine and overcome the issues and problems of distance. This collaboration required each maker to wear immersive recording devices (HD bullet cameras) around their chests, to have the freedom to move around and work in their studios. The overall effect is one of feeling very much a part of the craft and artistic work which you are viewing, rather than simply being a passive viewer. These recordings bring a totally unique and innovative insight into the world of the maker, their talent, skills and creativity, enabling you to appreciate the incredible works on display. 

The Made It! exhibition is a showcase of  four talented Highland and Island makers and works which have inspired their craft and runs until the of July 2010 at the Inverness Museum and Art Gallery.

Saving Our Woodlands Promoting Our Art

Let's go for a walk

Let's go for a walk

On Friday afternoon I was invited up to Milton, near Alness, to attend a joint networking meeting of the Woodlands Community Association, Voluntary Arts Scotland and a variety of artists.

The networking event itself was held to discuss the concept of bringing together Arts and Nature, how the Artistic and Cultural sector can support the growth and sustainability of Scottish Woodlands, through Arts Projects based within Woodland Communities.

The Community Woodlands Association, established in 2003, was set up “to help community woodland groups across Scotland. It provides advice, assistance and information, facilitates networking and training, and represents and promotes the benefits of community woodlands, both in the political arena and wider world” (CWA, 2010).

At present there are 150 member groups with 15,000 participating members across the country, but the future survival of these woodland communities are under threat. Whether it is from the modernisation of the world or apathy towards saving our environment, CWA recognise that this is a time in which action to engage wider audiences and therefore members is necessary to support all the hard work of the few devoted individuals who work, live and protect their communities woodland areas.

Voluntary Arts Scotland (VAS) on the other hand offers support, advice and information to groups and individuals who take part in the voluntary arts and crafts. This partnership between the CWA and VAS may well ensure a future relationship between socially motivated Artists and the woodland communities, towards providing socially engaged artistic projects right in the heart of the Woodland areas across Scotland.

The concept of ‘Community Arts’ has always been a tricky one in my mind. I have had the most amazing opportunities in the past to work alongside community art projects, and see the impacts and benefits that communities have from engaging the arts and an Artist to deliver something unique and special to these groups. Community arts projects definitely have an important role to play in fostering participation, partnership and greater respect for local communities or for arts in general.

However, I have struggled with the idea of a ‘community artist’. Does this really exist? A community arts project by definition involved local community members, it is a collaborative project between the artist, the community and the local area. Many socially motivated projects require specific and measurable ‘outcomes’, what will the legacy of this project be, what skills will the local community have learned. It is vitally important to define your goals, have an idea of what you hope to achieve, to leave a legacy for the local community. But how much of this infringes on the creativity of the Artist? Especially if the socially motivate outcomes are already predetermined by either the local community or organisation(s) involved? Where does ‘community art’ stop being about Outcomes and more about Artistic practice?

Govan Beacon

Govan Beacon

It is afterall a balancing act, and there are so many incredibly talented and inspirational artists who work with community arts projects across the country, one such artist I met on Friday Tara Beall, who had worked on the Govan Graving Beacon project in Glasgow for the Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art.

The Graving Beacon is an automated light placed on the Govan Graving Docks which flashes messages in Morse Code. People are encouraged to send their messages to the Beacon via text message, and wait to see their message translated into Morse code and flashed out across the docklands, and then wait for a reply. So see more check out the beaconcam at www.astonesthrowaway.co.uk.

The meeting on Friday was designed to give both parties an opportunity to talk through their needs and requirements to make sure this partnership has a successful future, and I believe much ground was made in the few hours we had.

This is early days still for the partnership, and I’ll be sure to keep you all up to date on all the developments.

Milton Community Woodland Trust: http://www.mcwt.org.uk/