All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
– a collaborative micro project with Simon Johnsen & Ella Rivett
Working to a tight time scale with collaborators each in full time employment is, unsurprisingly, a demanding challenge. I entered into this work knowing that my own routine commitments for Week 4 were heavy, so my proposed Micro Project “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” was one that would work well within the constraints of a school environment. By Monday evening Simon had joined the project and after a few teething problems with the Groups area, it was time to start. We used Canvas to discuss ideas and focussed on the concept of using black & white images to illustrate the ‘work’ component and colour to depict ‘play’. Taking the proverb literally, we focussed on boys as the subject matter.
Tuesday saw the welcome addition of a third collaborator, Ella, who was quick to contribute positive ideas and suggestions to the group. By Wednesday we had each contributed a selection of images allowing an interim review and discussion on where to go next (including some thoughts on how the work should be presented… a process that dew collective shrugs of shoulders!).
Simon made the astute observation that the collaboration was also bringing together a sense of time flow through the images: play being the driving motivation as a pre-school youngster, with more of a work-play balance as they get older and an ever-increasing workload as they move through the teen years and beyond.
Ultimately we settled on selection of ten images presented as a straightforward PDF of uncaptioned images, with an written overview of the work by way of an appendix.
The Sunday morning webinar was a first for me – met with a mixture of anxiety and trepidation, but it was reassuring to know that both Simon and Ella would be joining me. Not being one to impose myself on others, I have never been great at articulating the reasons behind my work, but in a process pleasingly less painful that orthodontics without analgesics, Gary McLeod extracted appropriate information from each of us, allowing a full picture of the work to be painted. Gary clearly has a penchant for asking involved questions that would themselves benefit from captions and subtitles, but he kept us all amused and on our toes throughout. The feedback was both positive and informative, but limited to the combined wisdom of Gary and Gem Toes-Crichton.
It was wonderful to hear the detail behind the Micro-collaboration of Michael-Jay Smith and Gem Toes-Crichton, albeit in the absence of MJ. Their theme was Growth, following the Sandra King quote: “The tiny seed knew that in order to grow, it needed to be dropped in dirt, covered with darkness, and struggle to reach the light.” In contrast to our project, Gem and MJ agreed upon the theme and then worked without further discussion on their compositions. The results were surprisingly similar, with MJ producing a thought-provoking series of personal memories from early childhood through to his teenage years, tied to trees. Gem contributed two macro images of plants ( a lichen and a pennywort) growing in their natural habitats on the North Cornwall coast. To this was added a third image of an ‘honorary’ local from Boscastle – the background to this image resonated well in me, having lived my teenaged years in a South Cornwall fishing village, where, no matter how long you had lived there you were not considered a local unless you had been born there! The well-composed image captured a man who clearly had a long and varied history, but highlighted Gem’s personal growth in approaching and photographing a stranger – something I would find challenging. Gem spoke well in her description and explanation of the collaboration, and despite the communicative difficulties during the project, it seemed abundantly clear that this was a most successful pairing.