From Plymouth to Santander, students collaborate for Impact 10 conference
Impact 10 is an international multidisciplinary printmaking conference, held biannually, initially in Bristol before moving to other cities around Europe and aimed at exploring the diversity of languages, cultures, techniques and different print disciplines.
Sponsored by Brittany Ferries and Japanese paper manufacturer Awagami, staff and students met their Spanish exchange partners in Santander at the Impact10 conference using their journey as inspiration for printmaking: to encounter each other’s culture through a dialogue with printmaking and developing the ideas of correspondence, gift and exchange. The project included community groups in the city and delegates from Impact 10 in a dialogue to raise awareness of the Global Challenges of food security, the issues of European Union borders and trade and the movement of populations across Europe.
2018’s conference took place in Santander, Spain, with the theme of ‘Encuentro’ which translates to Encounters. We caught up with Caroline Wilkins, MA Printmaking student, and Caitlin Lewis, BA (Hons) Painting, Drawing & Printmaking student, to hear more about their time in Santander…
Why did you want to get involved in Impact 10?
Caroline: I was first attracted to the project because it offered an opportunity to work collaboratively with staff and students across the painting, drawing and printmaking courses. We started to work together before we left for Spain and printed culinary utensils using the takuhon printing technique. We also worked to set up exchanges with students in Spain and sent each other prints before the trip.
Caitlin: Working collaboratively was a big thing for me too, in the second year of my degree I began to be a part of different collaborative projects like working with acclaimed printmaker Ciara Phillips on ‘We The People Are The Work’ and have even started to run workshops myself. I felt that I really connected with making work as part of a group and wanted this to be something I continued.
What did you achieve and experience while you were there?
Caroline: The main focus of the project was to make an exhibition and ‘potlach’ meal in a community centre. We went straight to our exhibition space from the 20-hour ferry crossing (with our printmaking trolley and suitcases in tow) on Monday and by Friday we had made a giant Takuhon tablecloth upon which we served our ‘Potlach’ meal to members of the local community, people we had exchanged with and conference delegates.
Caitlin: Our project actually began on the Ferry to Spain which we were on for 20 hours. Using the print process ‘Takuhon’ we were able to print on the go while getting the public involved. While we were in Spain our project was open to anyone who wanted to come in and give it a go. We had a range of visitors that got involved including children, locals, and others who had traveled internationally. As the theme this year was ‘encuentro’ we focused on exchange with all of our encounters whether this be a conversation, objects, food, etc. Our project took shape in the form of a very large tablecloth with other prints running along side. On the Friday we held a pot luck meal in which we prepared a lot of sangria and the most couscous you’ll ever see!
Caroline: As an MA Student I also ran a parallel project called ‘Catch of the Day’ for which I made an installation art piece in Redruth in Cornwall to show the importance of the pasty industry to our local economy. I made Cornish Pasties in Santander and served them at our meal.
What was your biggest highlight?
Caitlin: My highlight was at the pot luck meal. After a busy day of curating and finishing any last details it was really exciting to see people come and support our hard work. The range of people that turned up was really great, from other Impact 10 artists, to local families, to the group of Spanish woman who brought their cards to play, to a dog! It was a place of meeting people through food, conversation and art.
Caroline: Since returning to Plymouth I have felt that the experience has created a bond between us; we have formed a collective. This is special because it has built over time. We had an exhibition of the work produced in Project Space 1 in Plymouth and the tablecloth will be travelling to Redruth in Cornwall on the 15th of December where we will be delivering drop-in workshops. This links back to my ‘Catch of the Day’ project and will be an opportunity for us to gather together and discuss ‘what next’ for Allieurs 2’.
And the biggest challenge?
Caroline: Our week in Santander was extremely busy with many new demands to be met which meant that at times we were all tired and emotional. I think we rose to the challenge of such an intensive week (we all shared a big house as well as working together) and always found the energy to support each other.
Caitlin: I feel that our biggest challenge was trying to find good quality material for our table cloth in Santander. As a group we had to work together and adapt to the quality of table cloth and how we would go about working on it, especially with the length of it! We overcame this by trial and error and see what worked best with the Takuhon technique we were using.
What did you learn, that you hope will influence your practice in the future?
Caroline: I continue to see the idea of making ‘location’ as central to my socially engaged art practice, and I will be working with a public space in Redruth to deliver more site-specific art that engages with the local community.
Caitlin: I am very interested in socially engaged projects too, so for me it was really great to be part of this in a new place! I feel that having to go out and network with people and invite people to the pot luck meal and explaining our project gave me more confidence to do it again.
Why do you think these types of events are important for artists?
Caitlin: I think events like these are important as it is a chance to network and talk to other working artists. But what I really love is that it gives the people of the city a chance to get involved too, where maybe they wouldn’t usually visit galleries.
Caroline: True collaborations take time to build and the process can be demanding because the focus is on the group and not each individual element. A group of us are writing a proposal for the next Tate Exchange and how the art is in bringing together all our ideas so that something unexpected grows out of our collaboration.