Four years of Art in Manufacturing pairings has seen incredible and diverse creative works unfold across the mediums and methods of each artist and the choice of manufacturing narrative they choose to portray. Each year these outcomes are exhibited at The National Festival of Making.
Season Four saw an unexpected turn in this commissioning programme. In 2020 Covid Restrictions prevented artists from visiting factory floors, manufacturers were faced with new challenges in their capacities and the National Festival of Making could not open its doors and create a platform to exhibit these commissions. Despite the limitations of this extraordinary year, artists have been building relationships and developing research in new, different and unexpected ways. They now continue to develop these works to present at the festival in 2022 with digital records created throughout 2021.
Artists Tim Denton, Raisa Kabir, Hannah Leighton-Boyce, Liz Wilson and Chris Gilmor have been exploring the lines between creative and technical; in departments from the design studio to the mechanised production line. We see the return of two manufacturing partners from previous iterations of the programme; choosing to join us again and invite artists into residency for a second year. We also welcome three new partners as we extend our programming to include factories from further afield than previously seen, in Mersyside, Kent and North Lancashire. Season Four takes us behind the scenes and onto the factory floors working with clay, cardboard, textiles, construction fabrication, robotics and steel.
Raisa Kabir works in an interdisciplinary practice with particular attention to textiles, sound and performance and the processes, movements and materials of global production. Through this, she expresses notions and complexities of colonial residues and socio-politics left by labour, indenture, cultivation of borders and violence. She is a graduate of Chelsea College of Art and Design and has exhibited in The Whitworth, The Textile Arts Center NYC, Center for Craft, Creativity, and Design, U.S, Ford Foundation Gallery NYC, Glasgow International, Center for Contemporary Art Glasgow, and Indian Art Fair.
John Spencer is part of a long tradition of textiles manufacturing in Pennine Lancashire, weaving textiles for a wide breadth of industries from fashion to automotive sector; and purposes from military uniforms to parachutes. A family business that is committed to the preservation of traditional crafts and skills and producing fabrics that are ‘Made in Britain’ and is custom-made to their clients designs and specifications.
To see the connections between craft work and industrial textile production in action, has bolstered my practice and fed into the commission to explore these tensions and correlations in weaving and weaving history in the area. It has been a joy to meet the many people behind the Burnley manufacturer and witness the strong collective identity and history of the brand being woven into every aspect of the company – Raisa Kabir
Liz Wilson’s multimedia work encompasses visuals, whether static or moving, as well as explorations into sound. A graduate from the Royal College of Art, her practice explores the relationships between industrialisation, technologies and print. In recent months she was awarded seven-month residency at Coachworks, Ashford (co-commissioned by Turner Works & Ashford Borough Council) where she developed a body of work in partnership Hitachi Rail Ltd. Recent exhibitions include Taoxichuan Museum of Art, China; OGA, Rome; Parc de la Villette, Paris
Owned by a husband and wife team – Jason and Madina Barker, Liverpool based manufacturer, CNC Robotics offers the security of a global company and the innovation of an independent one. Designing solutions for efficient, precision manufacturing production lines incorporating CNC turning, milling and 3D printing that demonstrate an exciting array of automated technologies that are at play behind the doors of our factories. Quality products, services and unrivalled support infrastructure are at the core of the companies values.
Manufacturing can inspire us to engage with the act of transformation through the lens of technology and automation – Liz Wilson
Chris Gilmour has dedicated over 20 years to creating hyper-realistic sculptures using nothing but cardboard and glue. These life-size representations of everyday items subvert the use of this simple packing material, creating a short-circuit between the fragility of the material and the powerful presence of the objects. He has exhibited around the world, including the Museum of Arts and Design (New York) and the Lyon Museum of Contemporary Art. He has been awarded art prizes including the Premio Cairo (2006) and Premio Michetti (2012).
A consistent supporter of the National Festival of Making, Cardboard Box Company make an art out of cardboard packaging design and production. With an on-site team, the factory delivers from design through to completion for industrial and retail packaging solutions created in corrugated board. Their creations range from the humble cardboard box, to point of sale displays, to the Lego-themed soap-box car driven by the companies own employees in the annual Red Bull race. Whilst working with over 25,000 solutions for customers, they remain an inventive, creative and people-centric company, committed to the local area.
I usually make all my sculptures by hand, so working with Cardboard Box Factory is a great opportunity to see things from an industrial perspective and explore a different way of working. It’s fantastic to find such an enthusiastic group of people, get a chance to share ideas and see how other designers work with cardboard – I’m very excited to see how things turn out – Chris Gilmour
Tim Denton works from his design and build studio in Manchester, creating and constructing structural works both experimental and functional. His practice delivers bespoke furniture, temporary spaces and structures through intelligent construction presented with an effortless aesthetic. He is a graduate of Contemporary Furniture Design from Buckingham Chilterns University College.
OEP design, manufacture and install precision made bespoke components to construction projects. Pioneers in the early development of the prefabricated bathroom ‘pod,’ the company developed a more efficient model of working on large scale construction sites; by taking the detailed finishing of bathrooms off-site and completing them on the factory floor; ready for delivery as a completed functional room to multi-story buildings.
For me, the design process itself should be an open-ended thing. Something that is truly surprising for all parties, including myself. I like taking each step, not knowing or controlling where the process is taking you. This project is truly representative of that way of working – Tim Denton
Hannah Leighton-Boyce‘s work ranges from site-specific and durational sculpture to drawing, sound, and installation. Ideas are drawn from historic and present-day narratives surrounding a place, personal experience, and process-led investigation to explore material, environmental and sensory relations, and the politics of labour, through invisible processes, such as the transmission of energy, the passing of time, accumulative and reductive forces. Hannah studied at Winchester School of Art and Manchester School of Art, completing her MA in Textiles in 2012. In recent years she has exhibited in the PAPER Pavilion at Palazzo Mora, Venice Biennale, Bury Sculpture Centre, The Turnpike, Glasgow Women’s Library, Castlefield Gallery, and Touchstones Museum & Art Gallery.
Working with skill and artistic expertise since the end of the 19th Century, Darwen Terracotta has a storied heritage and a modern manufacturing story about change and evolution at its heart. Using the knowledge and expertise of generations of artisans, the manufacturer produces visually stunning terracotta and faience. Their incredible work can be seen in Grayson Perry’s ‘A House for Essex’, and locations as prestigious as The Royal Albert Hall, The London Coliseum and Battersea Power Station.
It’s a wonderful experience to spend an extended length of time within another world of making. I often move around at a different pace to the factory, I like to arrive at different times as the factory really changes through the day – Hannah Leighton-Boyce