Art in Manufacturing, a collaboration between the National Festival of Making and Super Slow Way, is a commissioning programme at the heart of this festival that places artists in residence with industry. To date, we’ve commissioned 25 artists whose work has gained international press coverage and created unforgettable moments that tens of thousands of people have enjoyed.
In Season Three, five artists were paired with five brand new manufacturers whose work in textiles, paper and engineering have links to international making industries. During our visits to factories, we were astounded by the connections created by artists working in industry – the residencies provide a platform not just for the making of new work, but for sharing experiences and connecting across boundaries. The programme offers an incomparable space for artists to make new work, having access to industrial making practices, machinery and techniques with the scope to investigate outcomes that would often be impossible in the confines of an artist studio.
Art in Manufacturing allows collaboration with 100s of members of the workforce who share their time, knowledge and creativity to make artworks from sound pieces to sculptures. Manufacturers reflect that the learning is shared – that working with an artist may influence thinking and ‘new ways of doing things’ – in an already innovative space the opportunity for experiment and inquiry between artist and industry is limitless.
For Season Three – Liz Wilson created a multi-channel video installation that transforms animations and sounds found in the factory and in the artist’s voice, into a digital crescendo; Daksha Patel’s collaborative residency led her to explore the colour mixing lab and Blackburn’s global textile links; Dan Edwards suggested ‘we can do more’, as he encouraged everyday acts of activism; Anna Ray was inspired by offcuts from an industrial tufting process and Amy Pennington’s work took the mass-produced from macro to micro, towards a series of sensitive and humorous human interactions. Nicola Ellis’ 2018 Art in Manufacturing commission with Darwen’s steel fabricators Ritherdon, led to an extended, two-year residency in which the sculptor explored collaborative making and creative thinking in industry – a demonstration of the impact of the commissioning programmes intervention with the regions industry.
Season Three also saw the addition of a new exhibition of artists who explore the Art in Manufacturing narratives in their existing work, curated by Alex Zawadzki in Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery in ‘Industrialised: Art in Manufacturing in the Gallery’.