Welcome to the first of three blogs about the Read:Code:Make programme, a collaboration between Surrey Library Service (Digital Department), artists and makers funded by Arts Council England. In this first blog, we’ll talk about how the project came together and introduce the artists and makers participating. Next blog will cover the creative (and coding and making!) process and on our final blog we’ll showcase the finish work and review the whole process.
The aim of Read:Code:Make from Surrey Libraries was to bring three established artists and two digital technology experts or 'makers' to develop artworks with a digital twist. The library and books from the library are starting points for artwork development which will then be interpreted into interactive art pieces to be displayed in Guildford library during the Surrey Artists' Open Studios (SAOS) summer programme and then toured around other Surrey libraries.
Let’s hear from the people involved. We started by asking asked Helen Leech, Surrey Libraries Digital Lead for the library service perspective about the project: “Surrey Library Service is delighted to be working in partnership with Surrey Arts and Surrey Artists’ Open Studios to host these book-themed installations. They bring together analogue and digital creativity, reflecting the way we all use books and information now: partly as we always have, increasingly online. They have brought together creative and innovative people, who spark off and learn from each other, in the spirit of the Guildford Makerspace. We hope you enjoy it!”
After a selection process, Helen and her team, with the support of Surrey Arts, choose three local artists: Helen Scalway, Louise and Russell Jakubowski and two makers: Matt Prior from the Surrey and Hampshire Makerspace and myself (Carlos Iszak) representing Artefacto to participate in this project.
We asked artists Helen, Louise and Russell, to tell us why were they interested participating in this programme:
Helen Scalway, who trained at Chelsea College of Art and has since then shown in Britain and internationally, with an increasing emphasis on making artists’ books said:
“I got involved in this project because I have loved libraries all my life and increasingly think they are great places to show work - art galleries can seem sterile compared to the fullness of a good library. The invitation to participate in this particular library intervention has offered a rich opportunity and hopefully will enhance the library experience for other people.
I chose to work on Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein because it is such a potent text for today with its concern for care and responsibility for lives that we create by artificial means, in a time when science can seem both exciting and arrogant.”
For more about Helen and her work please visit www.helenscalway.com.
Louise Scillitoe-Brown studied Fine Art at the University for the Creative Arts and has exhibited in London and Bath and in 2017 was Artist in Residence at Leith Hill Place.
When asked the same question she said:
“Because I’m very interested in extending my practice in new directions. Because by working with others and receiving critical feedback, it hones ideas and our work becomes stronger and more relevant. Because through my practice I discuss the impact that new technology has had on the way we communicate.Because the more we automate, the more it seems we lessen contact with other humans. And yet this project encourages people to come together to share expertise and to learn, to build community.”
Please visit Louise’s website www.louisesb.com to find out more about her work.
Russell Jakubowski took a Fine Art degree in Winchester, completed a PGCE and taught Design and Technology. He has exhibited in solo and group exhibitions and worked on numerous community art projects and public sculpture commissions. He told us:
“I think libraries are wonderful places and I am always interested in finding new ways of working. Reading is inspirational and computer code is a language. This project is a great opportunity to collaborate with people who are creative problem solvers but use a different tool kit. Being involved in Read-Code-Make is a way to bring words, materials, code and electronics together. Then, in the true spirit of creativity, combine them into something greater than the sum of parts.”
You can visit Russell’s website at www.russelljakubowski.com for more about of his work.
We also asked Matt a digital maker and director of the Surrey and Hampshire MakerSpace a community workshop based at The Boileroom in Guildford with a background in electronics and machine intelligence, why was he interested in participating. He said: "When I was approached to be part of this project I felt it was a great opportunity to bring some of the modern manufacturing technologies we use at the Makerspace, such as laser cutting, 3D printing and electronics, to a collaborative project.”
And finally, myself, representing Artefacto: a creative digital agency, jumped at the opportunity to take part in this project because I've been involved in the development of the Guildford Makerspace from the beginning and I see this project as a natural way of expanding the breadth and scope of the Guildford Makerspace activities. I also see this project as an ideal opportunity to engage the wider community by developing exciting andengaging installations, raising the profile of the makerspace and bringing to the attention of the general public Digital Making with creativity and technology!
Until next blog...