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Celebrating CoLAB

Community CoLab Assistant Curator Molly Stock-Duerdoth tells us more about CoLAB

This summer, the Clore Learning Studio at Kettle’s Yard transformed into a creative research lab and everyone was invited to take part.

CoLAB, this summer’s community programme at Kettle’s Yard, has come to an end. During July and August, artist Kaitlin Ferguson transformed the Clore Learning Studio at Kettle’s Yard into a creative lab, where she hosted a series of discussions, workshops, open days, and displays. Together with members of our local community and researchers at the University of Cambridge, Kaitlin used this space to explore how we can use art and creativity to better care for each other and the planet.

Photo by My Linh Le
Photo by My Linh Le

CoLAB’s themes were inspired by the research of Dr Louise Hickman at the Minderoo Centre for Technology and Democracy. Louise investigates how people with a diverse range of needs physically access arts and culture in the city and how this data can inform the future of work. By exploring this topic creatively and with local voices, CoLAB has produced a new archive of lived experiences and perspectives.

Before CoLAB opened, Kaitlin met with a with a group of community collaborators. Working together, they designed the space, content and creative activities that would help make CoLAB welcoming and inclusive. These creative conversations were had around activities including block printing, plaster casting, and drawing. They began the discussions of care, tech, and access that ran throughout CoLAB. Community collaborator Megan commented:

I really enjoyed how it felt like a collaboration, and our opinions and ideas mattered and counted.

Once CoLAB opened, Kaitlin welcomed people to continue these conversations in a series of open days, displays, and themed workshops. On open days, people dropped into the Clore Learning Studio to talk over a cup of tea and take part in a creative activity. A visitor to an open day commented:

I love coming here! It’s such a safe space to discuss ideas that are so vital in our society and community.

There was a Studio Sunday special and workshops for adults and children on 3D printing and tech in art. Kaitlin met with staff at Kettle’s Yard to gather their perspectives on access and care. Students Artists and staff from Rowan came to share their perspectives and make paper from the tea leaves used over the project. CoLAB concluded with a weekend-long display of the artworks that were made together.

Kaitlin is currently developing a final artistic output for CoLAB. This artwork will take the form of a ‘Living Archive’ and will be shaped by the experiences and perspectives collected during the project. Later this year, the Living Archive and the conversations had at CoLAB will be shared back to project partners and go on to inform future research at the Minderoo Centre for Technology and Democracy.

Photo by My Linh Le