ART & INNOVATION PROJECT
Art & Innovation was a partnership project by the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts and InCrops Enterprise Hub part of University of East Anglia, Norwich, Norfolk and local busineses
'The idea behind the project was for a range of local artists to engage with selected InCrops-supported businesses to design and create artworks using the bio-based materials produced by the companies. All parties would benefit from this project: InCrops and its clients would be able to raise awareness of new markets within the creative sector for the producers of sustainable bio-based materials, and the SCVA would have the opportunity to develop relations with artists interested in working with new, sustainable materials, which would in turn inform its ongoing project Culture of the Countryside (CotC).
The project was to culminate with a seminar where the artists would showcase their work and discuss how they found the experience. With help from SCVA in sourcing the artists, focusing on those with a previous interest and experience in local environmental projects, InCrops contacted clients indicating the potential exploitation of their product for a new market. The companies selected ranged from small businesses distributing and developing linseed oil-based paints, natural plant pigments and essential oils to research companies developing plant-based resins and manufacturers of packaging materials and large government organisations such as the Forestry Commission.
The outcome of this first phase of the project was extremely successful, with the artists producing a variety of unexpected outcomes and innovative solutions to the materials they were given, each completely different to the next. Given this success, and the positive feedback from both artists and businesses, InCrops and the SCVA agreed to extend the project, selecting artists Jacqui Jones, Marcela Tršová and Mark Haywood to continue their research on the basis of their interest in working in this area. To mark the final phase of this project, all artists and InCrops staff were invited to the Culture of the Countryside project’s closing conference which celebrated the success of CotC and enabled the artists, InCrops, and SCVA affiliates to network and promote the Art and Innovation project and its benefits.'
INCROPS ENTERPRISE HUB
Questions for InCrops artists - Answers by Marcela Tršová
How would you describe your style or focus in your creative work?
My main interest lies in exploring the subtle and intuitive part of life. Those things we all feel, go through and see all around us, often without giving them much notice, attention or importance.
Who and what are your influences?
Travelling and my response to the events happening in the world around me as well as everyday experience. I often draw on my own feelings, emotions and intuition. Big influence on my work is also the culture of the country where I was born and grew up in (Czech Republic).
There are many artists and writers I feel inspired by and whose work affected me. The following are those who have had biggest influence on my work. Frida Kahlo for her intensity of colour and emotions, Olafur Elliason for his use natural elements, Chris Drury for his symbolic use of materials, Kiki Smith for the subtleness and unashamed femininity, Marina Abramovic and Ana Mendieta for their raw and immediate performances. I also feel inspired by the work of novelist Paolo Coelho and critical writer Suzi Gablik.
Do the materials you use influence the outcome or the processes?
When I start on a new piece of work I often have a concept or an idea I want to express. This is followed by a choice of appropriate materials. In my work the materials I choose often say more than one can see at the first sight. I carry out an extensive research into the use of the materials their symbolic meanings and uses in culture. The combinations of materials I use are also carefully selected and matched in terms of symbolic associations.
The materials definitely influence the outcome and the processes, because it doesn’t always behave the way one would expect. If that happens I have to bow to the material and adjust my initial concept and ideas. This can be both incredibly frustrating and exciting. There have been many happy accidents in my practice...
What were your initial perceptions about the InCrops and Culture of the Countryside research opportunity with local businesses?
Having grown up in the countryside myself I was very excited at the opportunity to be able to take part in the project. Rural rituals, traditions and customs have always been a great interest to me personally as well as creatively.
Although I was using indigo dye in my work prior my involvement with the project, working with Woad Inc has been very interesting as I had the opportunity to learn everything about the product and how it’s produced from seed to the dye.
Did the experience influence or change the way you practice?
I have always had an interest in natural products that can be used in creative processes. The experience has been great for me not just in terms of getting to know one product very well but also seeing the other products being experimented with by the other artists. Therefore I feel I gained an inside knowledge to many other materials I didn’t know before. And I am very excited at the prospect of using them in my work.
Has your increased knowledge of materials created inspiration?
My practice is very much based on concept and materials. Learning about new materials and their innovative uses has opened a whole new window of possibilities for me.
Do you think the science and business based organisations have benefited from the artists’ research?
I feel that at this stage the artists have probably benefited from the project more than the business. In order for the business to benefit from the research it very much depends how the artists’ research results are used.
I think artists have a different approach to materials then scientists and businesses. They are innovative in their use of materials and tempt to go beyond the obvious and rational uses in order to create their artwork. I have certainly had a lot of fun doing so and discovered some amazing things.
Have you idea about future developments and opportunities?
I am definitely going to explore using woad to dye wood. I would also like to experiment with other dyes such madder and weld. For the second phase of the project I would like to combine some other natural materials (produced by companies InCrops are working with) such as hemp and flax fibres that can be dyed and perhaps moulded to create different shapes.
I am also very interested to carry more extensive research in the history of the use of Woad as a dye and explore the deep symbolism and magic attached to the process of gaining and using it. I am also going to look the colour Blue in general and its association used in culture, religion, rituals and magic