What do you get when you combine a pile of sheetrock, a handful of glue guns and a selection of utility knives with 30 willing participants and artists from the Bruce High Quality Foundation (BHQF)? You get a New Holland Lecture Hall full of schoolroom furniture and a feeling of satisfaction from all that collaboration you just did.
Materials used for the master class
Hailing all the way from America, BHQF artists brought island guests the opportunity to interact with each other and the history of art through their master-class “Public Art and Collaboration,” which took place on the island on Monday 27th and Tuesday 28th August.
30 participants attended the master class, and worked in pairs to create schoolroom furniture
After watching a BHQF ‘pedagogical video’ called Isle of the Dead, where an island of “dead” people are reawakened by contemporary art (in much the same way as New Holland island has been brought back to life by contemporary art and culture), and hearing a bit about the BHQF project and the art of collaboration on Monday night, budding artists and other interested participants set to work making schoolroom furniture in an effort to reawaken arts education.
There were no rules, participants were free to choose what they wanted to create for the classroom and how
The task was not just to create schoolroom furniture using sheetrock, but to do it in a team alongside other participants. According to the BHQF artists, the benefit of this approach, and the reason collaboration is such an integral part of their Foundation, is that it encourages a dialogue bearing new ideas that have considerably more space to flourish and develop than is possible through individual artistic pursuit. And the dialogue doesn’t end person-to-person: it also extends to a dialogue between the contemporary artist and the history of art.
Collaboration is the key
There were no limits as to what people could create in the master-class; the only rule per se was that it should be an item of furniture fit for a schoolroom. Looking at the pieces the BHQF artists had already begun to create might have been daunting for some (it certainly was for the New Holland staff taking part) but the master-class participants rose to the challenge and set to work designing some truly original works of art.
A whole array of classroom furniture was made in all shapes and sizes
A tiny chair for tiny toddlers, a throne custom-made for a King, an entire school bench complete with desk: So much thought went into the design of every item and every step of the process. If the task proved difficult, the artists were on hand to help should anyone need guidance or just another person to bounce ideas off.
The youngest participant
Overall, the master-class was a great chance for visitors to the island to really get to grips with the process of contemporary art as a collective. The next step is that the furniture will be cast in aluminum and become a fully-fledged part of the island’s vibe so that this experience of creation through collaboration will last, and be one continually reproduced through the island’s effort to reawaken an appreciation of contemporary art here in St. Petersburg.