Leeds Creative Labs

Collaborations for Academics & Creative Innovators

Category: DARE Edition 2015

Closing the DARE Edition (2015)

Earlier this the cohort for the DARE Edition of Leeds Creative Labs gathered to present their journeys over the course of the last month.

The lab team’s motivation for the DARE Edition was to understand if the labs model could be as effective a catalyst for innovation in areas such as the arts, culture and performance. That this notion made us uncomfortable also helped us understand that it was a risk worth exploring. Indeed, the DARE Edition has already helped innovate the labs overall; our terminology for curated participants was previously ‘technologists’ but now we think of them as ‘creative innovators’. Continue reading

The Power of Play: Launching the DARE Edition 2015

The potential of academics and artists to share knowledge and practice in a way that sparks new thinking, new debate, and new ways of doing things, could be considered to be under-exploited – under-celebrated.  It is often more one-way; an academic seeks a vehicle to communicate specific research; an artist seek knowledge that informs a project.

So it was exciting to be in the presence of talented researchers and arts practitioners in the arts at the launch of the DARE edition of Leeds Creative Labs, when we all readily admitted that we don’t have specific goals, or know what the result of our collective conversations might be.  As project manager for the programme, it felt a bit odd not to have a target to aim for other than to ‘see what happens’.  Felt a bit naughty.  It felt like we were embarking on a real adventure when technologist Imran Ali and academic  Simon Popple described their own Leeds Creative Lab experience as a two year journey which started with a chance connection and a caffeine fuelled conversation, and is now a Connecting Communities funded technology framework with national reach and the potential to change the way our stories are archived and shared.

The Labs give us permission to remove the shackles of objectives and targets, to breathe and think freely.

I was interested to hear why DARE Lab team members wanted in, and I’m particularly keen to see how the relationships develop.  Brad from Cap-a-Pie’s description of their first Lab encounter with Dr Lou Harvey as kicking off with a ‘hiss and a roar’, makes me really look forward to learning how their combined experience and spirit of adventure approaches a topic so relevant to contemporary society – how struggling with a language influences a person’s connection with a different  culture.

Never having worked with academics, Keranjeet from SAA-uk, who is committed to enabling audiences to experience meaningful engagement with South Asian Arts, is curious to learn how research and academic expertise might influence her practice.  Cue Doctors Joslyn McKinney and Anna Fenamore, who are interested in experimenting with research methods that explore how an audience makes sense of what’s on stage – how we experience a performance as a spectator.

It was refreshing to hear Katie Brown, Social Innovator and artist, speak about her Hepworth Lab experience – how by simply ‘hanging out’, researchers and artists can find the synergies and conflicts that make for the most creative conversations – that can change the way we think, and enable us to understand our own practice better.  I love the idea of ‘collisions’ of conversations – a few ripples can be a good thing.

So, what happens when the driver is simply curiosity?  When there isn’t an objective or target?  An expected measurable outcome or definition of success?

I have no idea.

Watch this space!

A Hiss And A Roar

After the launch event on Tuesday, the very next day Cap-a-Pie and Dr Lou Harvey started off with a hiss and a roar at the Cap-a-Pie office at the Ouseburn Farm in Newcastle.

We’d both expressed an interest in carrying on our collaboration beyond Creative Labs and were seeing the event on the 6th of July as an opportunity to show something that we’d created in the manner of a ‘scratch’ performance or work-in-progress.  So with that in mind we set to work.

One of the great things about Lou’s research is that it’s instantly relatable for almost anyone.  At the core it’s about people learning English and coming to Britain and struggling with the language for one reason or another.  But its ideas can be applied to experiences of English-speakers learning other languages or anyone going to another country or simply just coming into contact with another culture.

But the crux of it is about (as put succinctly by Lou at one point):

“the assumption that you understand what’s going on around you, but then you realise that you don’t actually know the rules”.

So for the morning we just spent a few hours talking about the research, drawing on our own experiences and putting forward some raw ideas for what we can do at the event in July based on the above quote.  And we felt like we were moving towards something that was interesting for us and useful and spoke to the research.

In the afternoon we changed tack a little a bit.  In the morning we felt that we had created an interesting form but felt it might be good to think about content.  We did a small version of a ‘Creative Inquiry‘, a Cap-a-Pie method developed years ago that mixes creativity and Philosophy for Children (but is suitable for any age or ability).

It basically involves starting with a stimulus (in this case, a piece of verbatim text from Lou’s research), extracting themes from that stimulus, responding creatively to those themes (which could be through creative writing, poetry, drawing, drama, sculpture – anything really) and then formulating philosophical questions.  One of these questions is chosen as the one to focus on.

The question we chose to explore for our content is:  “how do we decide what ambitions are acceptable?”  It’s a question that links well to the research and has a lot of artistic possibilities.

And for the last half hour we set about creating some characters, stories and scenes from scratch as something to potentially draw from in the future.

All in all we felt it was a super productive day.  We now have a few weeks to let the ideas marinade before re-convening back in Newcastle at the end of June.

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