My involvement with Collective all began with an informal challenge I was set by a visiting artist during my course at college. This challenge involved finding an opportunity driven by your own interests, and pretty much just going for it, in the sense of building for yourself a network of experience. This of course, I took seriously and stumbled upon a voluntary position with Collective’s offsite project at Meadowbank Stadium – Game Changer, part of the All Sided Games. Collective was always a gallery I had visited when spending time researching for projects and going to gallery visits in Edinburgh – there was always something about that wee gallery up Cockburn Street that was so different and exciting.
The role involved looking after the exhibition, and welcoming visitors to the space in which the exhibition was held, which in fact was a games room. The majority of the visitors (most of whom poked their heads around the door, essentially being nosey!) were individuals from sports backgrounds, hanging around the area waiting for a fitness class to start, or collecting their children from sports clubs. This was the perfect opportunity to discuss with such a variety of people, their understanding and interpretation of the works, as each of the works related to the context of sport, as well as art, in a very different way. Additionally to this, other tasks involved keeping count of the number of visitors, handing out leaflets and informing visitors of Collective’s recent move to Calton Hill.
A month down the line, summer was over and I had just started my 3rd year degree in Contemporary Art Practice. I was excited to be introduced to a module called Industry Related Learning, in which each student had to complete a work placement relating to our own interests. Who else to contact but Collective? Wonderfully, Collective agreed to host my placement and gave me the opportunity to see for myself what goes on in such a well-known organisation.
Following my first day of induction, health and safety, and agreements with Collective, it was discussed that as well as participating in day-to-day jobs, including front of house tasks, I would be part of the All Sided Games team. This role included working closely with James Bell (ASG Project Worker) and Catherine Sadler (ASG Project Producer), assisting them with research and evaluation tasks from previous, current and forthcoming projects with the six artists to be involved in All Sided Games. This was a role that I was excited about getting my teeth into – working with various artists seemed ideal to me, as I knew it would give me inspiration and encouragement in my own practice. Just before I began the placement, Jacob Dahlgren’s project finished with the All Sided Games, yet I was warmly included in the evaluation process. Being able to see the main aim of All Sided Games to “connect artists and communities, and draw people together to make work of mutual interest” as working successfully, was really promising. I could clearly see that Jacob Dahlgren connected with this aim, and collaborated well with communities and families in Edinburgh.
As well as being involved in All Sided Games, I also had the opportunity to experience front of house tasks, both invigilating Karen Cunningham’s video installation and Goldin+Senneby’s performance work Anti-VWAP. Learning and experiencing the process that Collective go through when inviting artists to exhibit was quite an eye-opener. I have learned to appreciate this process, which certainly is not a one-man job – each and every staff member plays a different key role throughout the transition between exhibitions.
My most enjoyable experience has definitely been the chance to meet, and observe the progress of the work by Glasgow artist, Mitch Miller. He collaborates with communities in specific places to create large-scale drawings, bringing together people’s stories and memories. For the All Sided Games he collaborated with people from Piershill Community Flat. The process he goes through from start to finish is something quite heart-warming, the way he builds close relationships with the people he works with, gaining a sense of trust to allow people to share their personal stories and memories. Mitch Miller was such an inspirational artist to have been involved with – from being kind enough to let myself, and the people of Piershill Community Flat visit his studio space in Glasgow,” the place where it all happens”, was something quite unique. Mitch, and the people from Piershill Community flat were so welcoming and pleasant (I even got invited to their Christmas Party!). They involved me greatly in their discussions of Mitch’s drawings, and it was so gratifying seeing each and every one their responses of the final result of Mitch’s drawing of their home.
My experience as a whole with Collective has been both exciting and interesting. Working within a workplace that I am not used to, proved to be challenging, yet I loved every second of it. Collective is definitely such a supportive organisation to be involved in, especially when still in education. I will always remember Collective as an experience which improved my understanding of arts organisations, in the sense that it has helped me meet a lot of new, and different types of people, from the staff, to artists, to members of the community who involve themselves within the art world, and make projects happen.