Making is first and foremost action. All makers have their own ways of making and approaching their material that are suited to the outcomes they want to achieve. Within my own practice, there is a difference between 'making as construction' and making (I have resisted using an M) as thinking, where ideas, instincts, thoughts and emotions converse with material and form. For me, an example of making as construction might be a simple, intentionally functional piece where I am overtly in charge, directing idea and material to a preconceived end. Whereas, in making as thinking, a piece emerges from the exploration of a notion where I use different methods and different materials to interrogate my ideas, my thoughts and myself. This process becomes an iterative conversation with material and form, rather than an instruction to it.
In Making, Tim Ingold calls this 'thinking through making' (Ingold,2013), or allowing knowledge to grow from our experience of and engagement with the things around us, using the physical to entice our subconscious to speak out. In thinking through making, the key for me is action: doing something with a material, not thinking about it too deeply but working instinctively and reacting to things as they unfold. This, more than anything else is what results in creative raw material that can be reflected on and learnt from at a later date. Reflection is an essential step in making, but for me it is something that happens separately from doing.
My experience of the act of making is that it enables a dialogue and forms a bridge between my internal thoughts and ideas and the external physical world. The act of making takes place on the threshold, within the liminal space between our internal and external worlds. It weaves together the intangible and tangible aspects of our experience and creates a space in which the demands of each can converse. It enables a sense of balance, like standing on the middle of a see-saw, with a foot on either side. Making creates, in effect, a whole new space – a liminal, in-between space, a threshold across and on which ideas can form, be formed and be reformed. It gives me the freedom to think and interrogate ideas as broadly and imaginatively as I can, but also tethers these wanderings in the physical world, grounding them in material.
Images by Nicola Tree and courtesy of The Goldsmiths' Company.
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