RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2014

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107 Geographies of Making (3): Workshops
Affiliation Social and Cultural Geography Research Group
Convenor(s) Laura Price (Royal Holloway, University of London, UK)
Rob Mackinnon (Aberystwyth University, UK)
Stephen Saville (Flowering Elbow)
Chair(s) Rob Mackinnon (Aberystwyth University, UK)
Timetable Wednesday 27 August 2014, Session 3 (14:40 - 16:20)
Room Sherfield Building, Room 10
Session abstract The power and significance of creative material practices of ‘making’ has drawn increasing attention within and beyond geography (Sennett, 2008, Crawford, 2009, Charny, 2011, Institute of Making, UCL). Whether this is a critical engagement with craft and vernacular creativities, artistic practices or the extensive range of making practices studied under the banner of the creative economy. Scholarship not only acknowledges the social, economic, political and cultural potentials of these practices, but also increasingly doing so by way of in-depth studies of the material, practiced and embodied dimensions of making. This represents, we argue, a requirement that we revisit and re-negotiate the spaces and practices of production, and that we interrogate the politics therein.
Geographical research on the creative economy alongside cultural-social geographies of arts and creative practices give us the foundation for these studies of the geographies of creative making and crafts whether this be explorations of creative cities, clusters or networks, the intersections of creativity and place or making in the home, the studio, or at the scale of the notebook (Scott 2002; Pratt 2008; Bain, 2009; Edensor et al. 2009; Brace and Putra-Jones, 2010; Rogers, 2011; Sjoholm, 2012; Harvey et al, 2013). Alongside this research we find attention being turned to the multiple lives of things, reworking and extending biographies of objects via practices of, for example, mending, repairing, up-cycling or other ways of creatively re-working objects, including second-hand consumption practices (Gregson and Crewe, 2003; Gregson et al, 2012; De Silvey and Ryan, 2013). Long recognising the place-making possibilities of such forms of creative making, we now find a growing attention to the productive force of these material, embodied and skilled practices (Hawkins, 2010; 2013, Paton, 2013). This might concern thinking through the production of human subjects through their material relations with the world, or it might explore the broader social context of communities of makers and the growing appreciation that “making is connecting” (Gauntlett, 2011).
We seek to expand geographical engagements with making and explore and experience some of the ways that geographers can attend to the power of making. We are interested in both sustained research with, and participation in making and re-making practices and communities, but also wider theoretical reflections on the use of ‘making’ as a geographical tool to understand and conceptualize the world and to comprehend the social, cultural, political and material relationships therein.
Linked Sessions Geographies of Making (1): Place and Community
Geographies of Making (2): Materials and practice
Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details: AC2014@rgs.org
Thinking a community of practice with Cotswold Fleece and Norsk Spael Fleece
Sue Reed (University of Derby, UK)
Engagement in landscape, art and education, being influenced by phenomenological approaches, have conceived of it as a dynamic process, highlighting the active and unfolding nature of life's learning through time. I explore these ideas by walking, both alone and being accompanied in a creative journey which refers to biography, storied knowledge and the use of fleece. My serendipitous encounters in different geographies connect a Rudolf Steiner inspired specialist learning organisation, with Aurland Agricultural College, West Norway. My life experiences shape my considerations of how people, nature and material elements become visible in a process of aesthetics, sensory and mindful movement, practice and belief. I seek to appreciate how a creative journey involves an engagement with cultural activity, social enterprise, politics and spiritual impulse; and how these embodied aspects of life may have potential to contribute to our understanding of the aesthetics of a community of practice. This action inquiry was initiated 7 years ago through the practice of crafts and storytelling. A‘Textile Community Group' and 'Golden Fleece events' of 2012 and 2013 have rekindled the impulse of co-creating a community of practice through shared collaboration with Norway, a land based university ‘Field Centre’ which researches therapeutic practice, biodynamic ecology, education and social entrepreneurship, and Ruskin Mill Trust.

Thinking a community of practice with Cotswold Fleece and Norsk Spael Fleece

One of the first materials our students play with is fleece. How may we describe the aesthetics of our engagement with the material, our relationships and the place we meet? Do our feelings change as we create an art work in our meeting space through our engagement with the material?
Create & Connect: Wearable Stories Work
Maria Hanson (Sheffield Hallam University, UK)
Dorothea Meyer (Sheffield Hallam University, UK)
Melanie Levick-Parkin (Sheffield Hallam University, UK)
As we navigate through our lives we often collect and keep mementoes, souvenirs and found objects that remind us of significant moments, times, places and experiences. However for the vast majority of people, making and material knowledge is limited and a sense of agency with our ‘stuff’ is missing.
In his book ‘The case for working with your hands’ Matthew Crawford (2009) suggests that in order to be responsible for the world and our sense of being within it we need to feel that it is intelligible and the provenance of our things need to be brought closer to home.

In this workshop we will explore how different material objects can be used as cultural probes in order to articulate cultural identities and values. It will use contemporary studio jewellery as a device to engage participants in a dialogue about the everyday and will explore how sensory experiences with the material world define who we are.

Design thinking and craft knowledge will be combined in a practical co-creative workshop to interrogate the emotional connections between people, materials and body adornment. It will use life experiences, storytelling and narrative structures to inform the making of a wearable jewel.

It will focus on the following two questions:

• How can the intrinsic preciousness of ‘things’ often discarded (but kept) be re-appropriated through creative making?
• How can objects, fragments and materials be beautified and re-contextualised through design thinking and processes of craft (reclaiming, reworking, transforming and relocating)?
Climate change and imagaining futures through making
Samantha Saville (Aberystwyth University, UK)
Kelvin Mason (Para academic)
Scientists, government bodies and campaigning organisations have come to understand that providing information about climate change is not sufficient to stimulate action at a pace and scale which would match that of the problem: the ‘sit back and be told’ (Gauntlett 2011) model is not working. Those involved in addressing this issue are turning to ever-more diverse tactics in attempts to bridge the gap between the abstractions of climate science and what this means to everyday life (Jasanoff 2010). This workshop explores the possibilities of participative, hands and minds-on engagement with climate change through the creation of future visual landscapes in order to extend this process of meaning making. In a step back from the professionally produced apocalypse of the public sphere, we invite participants (as a group, groups or individuals) to create their own visions of climate-changed landscapes, places and worlds. Twenty minutes of intense drawing, doodling, cutting, sticking, hacking, graffiti, and freestyling is followed by a discussion of the creations and the exercise itself. The power of making and sharing these visions could offer a very tangible way of thinking about the future that enables a wide range of reflections. Having a physical representation of an imagined future, in which participants have invested of themselves, we argue, opens the way for an engagement with the uncertainty of climate change at an emotional level, which can be both therapeutic and challenging.
Thoughts through junk, or animating ourselves with the inanimate
Stephen John Saville (Flowering Elbow)
In this workshop we experiment with what it might mean to cross specific making competencies with each other and make tangible what we find significant in the process of making. That is, participants will try to mould thought and emotion through their hands and re-make something based on one or more of the papers or workshops in this session. Using a plethora of reclaimed and 'odd-bits' of various materials, and a hybrid mash-up of techniques, significance will be re-made through the process of making. In doing so my hope is that we will find new points of discussion and cultivate vulnerability towards the 'stuff' that will, in part, stimulate re-made thought.

Eking out enchantment and ideas from 'waste' materials and 'trying out' a re-configuration of thought into materials, demands new ways of making, expressing, and being with stuff. It may also open space for re-framing givens and refilling competency with doubt. This workshop invites participants to discuss, through re-making, what is, and has become, important to them about geographies of making.