Tuesday, 4 December 2012

SOAPBOX at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Arts

We were recently invited to deliver a talk at Baltic as part of the programme for The Encampment of Eternal Hope, which is a major new sculptural installation by Zoë Walker & Neil Bromwich. The exhibition 'extends their enquiry into the role of art as an active agent for transformation in society.  Taking apocalyptic predictions for 21 December 2012, the end date for the Mayan Calendar, as an imaginative catalyst, the project envisages a post-apocalyptic utopian community, a kind of ‘garden of earthly delights’.

Our talk was part of Soapbox events where 'diggers, dreamers, survivalists, optimists, pessimists, slackers, thinkers, doers, creatives, philosophisers, alternative life stylers, environmentalists, freeganers..... could step up on The Encampment of Eternal Hope Soap Box and help shape a better world.' People could voice their opinions, demonstrate a survival skill, create an event, speak, sing, perform or meditate to show how can we live in a better way with our environment and our fellow beings.

SO... we decided to talk about the Transporter project and invited people to answer questions to contribute to our research. We also had a discussion with the audience after our presentation which was really interesting and covered subjects which ranged from; guerrilla gardening, the disconnection of man and nature and specifically the waste which artists create when making work and whether pieces/materials should be reused/remade in an effort to be more sustainable. We also discussed up-cycling waste materials and whether it is more interesting to try and recreate something which disguises the materials' former use (such as creating something using plastic bottles which doesn't scream 'plastic bottle sculpture') and also the boundary between a functional object, craft and art.

Here is a copy of our soapbox script! We'd also invite you to comment on the blog post with your answers to the questions at the end...

'We are here today, not because we know much about Mayan culture or that we believe the world will end on the 21st December but that we are interested in the Encampment project and how it is highlighting different, creative ways of living and questioning how connected we feel to the world, Mother Nature and the environment. The idea of being more ‘in tune’ with the world around us and being more resourceful is something that appeals to us and connects to our philosophies we have currently been developing within our own art work.

In 2010 we had a discussion about the fact that, although we called ourselves artists, and sculptors, we hadn’t crafted or made anything with our hands for a very long time. We decided that we wanted to learn more about making, working with materials and being more resourceful. We wanted to learn and improve as artists and share these skills and knowledge with others- the way it used to be in cultures when stories, skills and crafts were passed from one generation to the next. It is this interest in getting back to basics, valuing tradition, learned art forms, being resourceful by working with the environment around us that has led to the development of our TRANSPORTER project.

TRANSPORTER is a multi cultural creative project and involves the exchanging and transporting of creative skills, ideas and crafts. It aims to highlight the idea of sustainable arts practise, looking at people’s relationship to their environment and the value of cultural heritage. As part of our research in 2011 we worked at an eco village in Northern Peru and learn traditional craft and building skills. In 2012 we worked in an art waste resource centre in Berlin and made art using only scrap materials.
At this stage, the Transporter project is covering broad subject matter of sustainability, the environment and traditional skills and knowledge which will be further defined and explored as the project and the artist’s interests develop. Transporter has its own blog and flickr websites as a Knowledge Bank to document the skills, crafts and ideas discovered by the project so far- anyone can access this. Sessions are delivered with universities, groups and other artists as a way to pass on knowledge and skills learnt whilst developing the artists. 

As further research for Transporter we’d like to ask you some questions which will help us gain insight into your point of view on creativity, resourcefulness and waste. It would be great if you could take part by answering the questions on the wall. Maybe the 21st December could mark the beginning of a more sustainable, thoughtful and resourceful era rather than the end of the world!'

How resourceful do you think you are on a scale 1-6?
What have you reused/up-cycled recently instead of throwing out - and what was its new function? What was the last thing you made with your hands and your imagination?
What do you throw away the most of?

Thursday, 18 October 2012



As part of the TRANSPORTER project, artists and curators Suzanne Hutton and Sam Taylor will be facilitating a second skill sharing and making workshop on Saturday 3rd November 2012, 10-4pm which explores how contemporary art can be developed from traditional skills and craft and through the reusing of waste or discarded materials, looking at the theme of sustainability.

Sam and Suzanne will talk about the Transporter project, highlighting their recent artist residency at Kunst Stoffe in Berlin, an arts resource centre dedicated to an artistic, aesthetic and sociological exploration of reusing waste and discarded materials and presenting their current practice as a result of this residency.

Participants will share their own skills and develop new work in the peaceful surroundings of Highgreen. We encourage you to bring your own waste materials and something to the session so that we can learn from you too! This could be an idea or a material you are currently working with or a piece of work to show others. The aim of the session is to develop your own creative practice by working with new materials or pushing your current ideas about craft and art.

Note: Some materials will be provided. Refreshments will be provided but please bring lunch.
Car share is available from Newcastle/Gateshead –please just ask!

FREE but booking essential TO BOOK: Email suzanne.hutton@gmail.com or call Suzanne on 07900 147628 or call Janet (VARC) on 01434 240822
TRANSPORTER was devised by artists Suzanne Hutton and Sam Taylor as a way to learn and improve as artists whilst sharing skills and knowledge with others- it looks across wide subject areas such as sustainability, the environment, craft/skills and how these differ and compare across cultures. The project will develop as the artists develop. Transporter has its own blog and flickr websites which document the skills, crafts and ideas discovered by the project so far: www.transporterproject.blogspot.com | www.flickr.com/photos/67813410@N05/sets/

The Transporter project is supported by Arts Council England.
This workshop is held in association with VARC (Visual Arts in Rural Communities) and with thanks also to Highgreen Estate for providing the venue.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Invitation/Press Release to our Exhibition opening as part of the Kunst Stoffe AiR programme...

Waste and Habits
Thursday | 20 September 2012 | 7pm
Opening hours 21-25th September, 11am-6pm
Museum Lichtenberg in the Town House - Victorian Kitchen Gallery | Türrschmidtstr. 24 | 10317 Berlin | S Nöldnerplatz

Kunst Stoffe presents the third exhibition of this year's artists-in-residence programme
The two artists Samantha Taylor and Suzanne Hutton from the UK to explore the potential of reuse, revise and re-presentation of everyday materials. They create models and prototypes, exclusively using materials from the Kunst Stoffe materials warehouse. Their resulting prototypes for urban landscapes, shelters, seating and contemplative spaces aim to investigate the possible and impossible harmony between the natural and the man-environment.

For more information see Kunst Stoffe website and see exhibition images here

Friday, 31 August 2012

Our first week in Berlin....

We have been in residence at Kunst Stoffe for a week now and already feel inspired by the urban landscape, history of the different districts and the general relaxed attitude to life here. We are staying in Prenzlauer Berg and so far have visited the Bauhaus Museum, East Side Gallery (Berlin Wall), taken part in various workshops relating to reusing materials and preserving our environment as well as spending time taking in architecture and public art by bicycle.


When not exploring the city, we have been in the studio creating models and prototypes for various ideas which make links between Berlin and Peru. We are creating a large dome shaped sculpture out of discarded plastic, woven posters and billboard papers and an accompanying sound piece  The piece could be transported to different urban spaces where the viewer can take time out of the city underneath its canopy and listen to the orchestral sounds from the diverse nature in Peru. It is very exciting for us to realise ideas during this residency in Kunst Stoffe for sculptures and installation which were originally conceived in Peru. The interesting aspect is that the piece will (hopefully) have resonance and meaning for both places but for different reasons.

 Our artwork is all being created using the material supplied by Kunst Stoffe#s waste centre and its many rooms filled with everything from plastic toy parts and old jigsaws, to huge reams of paper, wood/metal/cloth and tile rooms filled to the brim and an abundance of electrical and domestic items. The centre is open to the public to purchase materials which are privately donated or received from large companies locally.

 We are exploring the link between nature and the urban environment and the point at which these two co-exist and will be looking to the architecture of Berlin, and its unusually high amount of green spaces (for an urban centre) and creating artwork that reflects this. We are interested in the idea of valuing the handmade, tactile approach to art making and being resourceful in order to highlight ideas around sustainability and what it means to be ‘connected’ to your environment.

Recycling is a normal part of daily life in Berlin rather than an afterthought or a 'chore' and the city has a feeling of resourcefulness and creativity that you don't necessarily see elsewhere; quirky cafes using hay bails as seating, large scale graffiti that are regarded as artwork rather than spoiling the landscape or beach cafes on top of buildings.  This could be due to the high quantity of artists, as there are disused buildings full of studios in abundance and it feels like everyone is always doing something or there is always events/festivals happening not too far away.


Wednesday, 25 July 2012


We had a great group of artists attend our Creative Exchange session (see flyer below). 
The morning was spent discussing our various interests and practices along with a presentation of our Transporter project so far and ideas linked to our residency in Peru. Topics covered; the connection we have to nature, the teaching of skills and crafts down generations and subverting crafts techniques to create contemporary art to comment on modern living. We had an interesting range of artists attend the session including text based, environmental and a felt artist. The afternoon was filled with creative activity and making; some collaborated to make spontaneous works outside, many working with materials or techniques not previously tried. It has been encouraging for us to discover the strong interest in sustainable arts practices and meet other artists who are already exploring this area in their work. The time flew by and as often with sessions such as this, it would have been great to have longer but here are some images to give a taster of what happened....(to see more go to our FlickR site)

'It was so nice to have uninterrupted time to listen and talk with creative people. I came away feeling very inspired by the people and  the wonderful setting...'
As part of the TRANSPORTER project, we will be facilitating a skill sharing and making workshop on Saturday 18th August, 10-4pm which explores how contemporary art can be developed from traditional skills and craft and through the reusing of waste or discarded materials, looking at the theme of sustainability.
We will talk about the Transporter project, highlighting research gathered so far on crafts and heritage from the UK, China, Guyana, Kenya and Peru and showcase some of their artwork. The rest of the day will allow participants to share their own skills and develop new work in the peaceful surroundings of Highgreen. We encourage you to bring something to the session so that we can learn from you too! This could be an idea or a material you are currently working with or a piece of work to show others. The aim of the session is to develop your own creative practice by working with new materials or pushing your current ideas about craft and art.
Note: Some materials will be provided such as clay, weaving materials and scrap. Refreshments will be provided but please bring lunch. Car share is available from Newcastle/Gateshead –please just ask!
FREE but booking essential TO BOOK: Email suzanne.hutton@gmail.com or call Suzanne on 07900 147628 or call Janet (VARC) on 01434 240822
This workshop is funded by Arts Council England and held in association with VARC (Visual Arts in Rural Communities) and with thanks also to Highgreen Estate for providing the venue.

Friday, 1 June 2012

June 2012

Phase 1 - update:


Well we have been hard at work since our last blog update making artwork and developing the project further. Due to various reasons we have not yet managed to organise our exhibition but we are looking to hold this towards the end of 2012 at a venue tbc.....we have one in mind but not yet confirmed so we shall keep you posted!!

The main themes of the exhibition will be -

Sustainable arts practices from around the world and what this means to artists
Our relationship to the environment and how it compares across the world
Looking back at our heritage and craft and presenting it in a contemporary way
Crossing cultures and skills sharing 

Below are some artists who will feature in the exhibition:

Jaime Miranda – Jaime is a sculptor and photographer whom we met during our 
residency at Sachaqa Arts Centre, Peru - http://www.jaimemiranda.com/

LEO – Leo lives and works between Berlin and London and is currently Artist in Resident
at VARC – Visual Arts in Rural Communities in Tarset, Northumberland
(www.varc.org.uk). Leo is interested in the current nature of environmental art and
public art. - www.cskx.org/leo
    Trina Brammah – Trina is a painter and founder of Sachaqa Arts Centre .Trina works by collecting natural pigments from local river sources in the Peruvian jungle - http://www.trinabrammah777.blog.com/

Testing out ideas at VARC (Visual Arts in Rural Communities)
In April – May 2012 we spent time with LEO in Tarset, Northumberland as part of his artists workshop programme. A group of us with various interests came together to make artwork inspired by the landscape. It was quite a short time scale but great to get stuck into creating something outside with the challenge of such a tight deadline. The images show what we were working on. The 'cuffed' treetrunks was an experiment with sightlines and viewpoints (and gold leaf!). The area of woodland we worked in was full of verticle lines and I wanted to cut across this with something- i also like the idea of 'ringing' the trees, to set them apart from the rest, if i'd had more time i was going ring all of the trees in that sightline. We've also been collecting platic strapping and plastic bags and creating smale scale experiments with proggy matting and weaving - with an aim that these would lead to a large scale installation. To see more images of our time at VARC visit our Flickr site.

International Skype exchange project with Lima and Newcastle University:
This is progressing well and we are looking to hold a skype session between Fine Arts Students from Lima University and Newcastle University in collaboration with David Butler in Oct/Nov 2012.

This online exchange will allow the students to discuss the theme of sustainability within their own practices and look at the differences between their work, culture, heritage, traditional skills and crafts and even the differences between their fine art courses.
This online exchange will form part of a larger project with Newcastle University students where they will be exploring the above themes through their own individual art practices in preparation for exhibiting the resulting art work as part of our exhibition in Dec 2012.
Transporter Interim Phase (Berlin):     
We have just received funding from Arts Council England
to deliver an interim phase of the Transporter project (Hooray!) which will allow us to spend time at Kunst Stoffe in Berlin for 5 weeks in September 2012, deliver another series of workshops in the North East and develop a larger Phase 2 programme for next year.
Kunst Stoffe is an arts organisation that looks at the creative re-examination and re-use of recycled materials.
In Berlin we will spend a focussed amount of time resolving ideas, evaluating our experiences so far and realising artworks that epitomise Transporter in a visual way . We will create collaborative work inspired by Berlin and our travels so far in Peru, exploring how they could have resonance and meaning in both places. There will be a 5 day exhibition at the end of the residency to showcase our new work and as always during this residency we will post regular blogs about the artists we are meeting and the new skills we are learning.

During our residency we want to explore the idea of habitual waste in Berlin making artwork that responds to this and comparing it to the waste habits in Peru and England. We are interested in the social aspects of this topic and what we can learn about different cultures from their daily lives. We are keen to explore the functionality of waste – taking the material and creating something new and useful in a fun way i.e. weaving raincatchers from discarded bottles or strips of plastic, creating fantastical new landscapes from discarded images of Berlin or installations from recycled paper/cardboard to develop our skills in paper engineering and origami creating places to sit and reflect.

Here are some of our initial ideas......


Transporter Phase 2 -
As mentioned previously, we are currently developing Phase 2 of Transporter and hope to create a programme that will allow further exchanges and discussions to be made between the local, national and international links that we have made so far during the project. We hope to develop a wider discussion around the theme of sustainable arts such as ideas on the re-presenting of traditional craft and re-examining of waste materials.
As part of our interim phase funding we talking to a variety of organisations and artists who have similar interests and can widen our knowledge bank. We can then add this information and any skills to our blog and flickr site. We hope to develop a touring exhibition and develop a live exchange between artists and organisations from different countries.
Some of the organisations we are currently talking to are –
As ever, we will update our blog as we go along and will post videos and images on our Flickr site.

If you think you have a project or an idea that would link to Transporter then do get in touch.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Update since our return to the UK & the next phase of Transporter...

Spending time at Sachaqa Centro De Arte and our experiences in San Roque de Cumbaza, Tarapoto, Chazuta and Lamas has allowed us to take a fresh approach to our art making, giving us time and space to learn to just relax and not force creativity! Being away from anything familiar really made you think about yourself as a person, who you are and who you want to be- something we didn’t expect! The peaceful and undisturbed surroundings were AMAZING and the way Trina and Daniel have set up the centre in a very relaxed and informal manner means you are free to work as and when you please. We were so inspired by the beauty of the place as well as the sounds and movement from the river, weather, trees and wildlife. There was thunder and lightning like we’d never experienced before, frogs as loud as horns, the biggest cockroaches we've ever seen, an orchestra from nature every night and the most beautiful coffee, pineapple and chocolate we’ve ever tasted!

Since leaving Peru we have been developing new work from ideas inspired by our time there which we did not have time to realise whilst we were there. We are currently looking at creating sculptural work from handmade paper we made whilst working with local artisans in Lamas – looking into the techniques of paper engineering and origami. We are also developing a sound and film piece made from the footage and recordings that we took as we travelled around Peru and during our daily walks around San Roque de Cumbaza where we were based. This new work will form the basis of the exhibition we are hoping to deliver in March 2012 (date and place tbc). We will post more information about this exhibition as soon as we have it!

Since our last posting we have been in contact with Lima University’s sculpture department and Axis Arte (www.blog.pucp.edu.pe/blog/axisarte ) whom we met just before our return to the UK. We are organising an online exchange between students from Lima University and Newcastle University and will be using the theme of sustainability within traditional art forms as a starting point from which to develop a relationship. The students will share ideas and thoughts around this subject and also discuss the differences and similarities between how art courses are taught in the UK and Peru.

Our next stop on the Transporter journey is to Berlin in August 2012 where we will be artists in residence in Kunst-Stoffe, an arts organisation that looks at the creative re-examination and re-use of recycled materials. While we are there we will make work inspired by our travels so far and immerse ourselves in their culture.

We will add more info to our blog as we develop this project so keep checking in with us and remember our Flickr account (http://www.flickr.com/photos/67813410%40N05/ ) where we have recently added some video footage of local artisans singing about their passion for the work that they do!!

Our Artwork/ New ideas - how has this developed our arts practice?

It was quite a struggle to spend lots of focused time on making artwork when there was so much to take in and adjust to in Peru. We were out of the studio for 1 week in Chazuta and also spent a lot of time organising the Lamas event, updating the blog etc. That said, the inspirational surroundings and unique culture of the place meant that you couldn’t help but want to respond creatively to it.
Land Art/Natural Sculpture: We experimented with our first land art pieces which was exciting. There was a real sense of connection between the people and the environment where we stayed and this definitely rubbed off and made you think of how disconnected we are to our plants and animals in UK. We tracked a dried up channel from the main river near our studio and installed a pink line of petals from the Palmarosa tree along where the river use to run- the contrast of the bright pink petals against the mossy green rocks looked amazing. Weirdly, 4 days before we left there was a terrible storm and the river broke its banks filling the dried up river bed and washed away our Palmarosa line. The locals said the last time the river had done this was 11yrs ago and then again 100 yrs before that!

Film/Sound work: We also captured a massive amount of film and sound footage. The jungle was so filled with life and the staggered noises of frogs, crickets, bats, dogs and cockerels created a sound piece every night! Ants and butterflies were great to try and capture too- we are going to use our footage to develop an installation which will attempt to recreate our experience.
Ceramics: The potential of ceramics is also something which became clear when we worked with the ceramicists in Chazuta. It was so refreshing to be hands on with the material and we began making casts of the local environment. We want to continue this in the UK and any other travels to build up a giant clay picture of different places. We also want to explore the idea of the boundary between practical pottery or craft and when it can become art - thinking about pushing the material to its limits or creating a pot which doesn’t function as a pot etc. We are looking at sourcing clay in the UK and if there are places to collect and prepare it ourselves as the ceramicists in Chazuta do. We also used the process of making wishing pots in the plaza to interact with the local community in the village- this was an interesting experience and something the local children found intriguing!

We met someone in the village who wove with discarded plastic sourced from the nearby town who had ingeniously taught himself to make baskets. Chumbie weaving (colourful belts hand woven from cotton) is also a beautiful and skilful indigenous craft and both methods have inspired many ideas in us to do with weaving different materials to create vessels of some kind. We had visions of creating a giant water catcher installation.

Natural pigments: We collected lots of stones from the river which we have crushed to create painting pigments and plan to test these out back in the UK and see what we can find locally which can be used in the same way.
Paper Making: Having made our very own paper in Chazuta we are now looking to sculpt with the sheets in some way, the paper is so thick and has such a tactile quality that we are going to experiment in 3D with it to see how far we can push the material

As well as the skills and crafts we were also inspired by the people we met and worked alongside. Sachaqa Arts Centre allowed us to work alongside a variety of artists, all unique in their artforms, experiences and ideas and all of whom made our time in Peru the fantastic journey that it was.
Lena Huber is a photographer and writer from Switzerland. Lena really inspired us by her refreshing approach to life, a free spirit and one of those rare people in life that can truly be inspired and interested in anything that she comes across. http://www.sachaqacentrodearte.com/page3.php
Jaime Miranda a sculptor from Lima, Peru. Jaime recently studied at Chelsea College of Art, London and has an amazing talent as a sculptor. Jaime was a great person to talk to about anything and everything and put us in touch with some fantastic people in Lima. We really hope to work with Jaime again in the future. www.jaimemiranda.com/index.htm
Trina Brahman, painter and founder of Sachaqa Centro de Arte, originally from Bradford, England Trina was very inspirational to spend time with and allowed us to see and understand different ideas on life. Trina paints visions that she experiences using natural pigments and attributes these experiences to living in the jungle, feeling a close connection to nature is important to her work. Trina has a unique approach to painting and really believes in her art, the centre and the life she is building in the highlands of Peru with her husband Daniel Lerner and baby Jacob. http://www.sachaqacentrodearte.com/page3.php