Fibre Transformed (1997)
What was the project?
Fibre Transformed was a partnership project with Norton Priory Museum, Runcorn. The project, funded by the national lottery, aimed to attract new audiences, and to challenge some of the beliefs people hold around art. Start acted as part of the commissioning team, as well as making work for the final exhibition.
The commissioning team invited professional and community-based artists to make art that would interact with, and change in response to, accidental damage caused by weather and wildlife. Around 100 works of art were created and displayed as part of an art trail that ranged right through the Priory grounds. Through a hard winter, the work decayed, changed or vanished completely, watched by the Priory’s many visitors and recorded by its staff.
Why did Start take on this unusual project?
The premise of Fibre Transformed challenged basic assumptions about art by creating works with self-destruction ‘built in’. The Start team thought this lateral approach to creating exhibition-art would be interesting and exciting, allowing students (service users) to experience fresh and surprising techniques and ideas as part of their artistic development.
Thinking outside the usual parameters is important in the arts, but flexible thinking skills are increasingly being valued in a broader context. Studies are now showing that these creative thought-patterns can be helpful in building wellbeing and confidence, and in developing resilience to stress. For recovery services such as Start, helping people to develop these skills is central to our work, so Fibre Transformed was an excellent project for us.
What did we make?
Start students explored unusual techniques, short-life materials, conceptual ideas and the work of other contemporary artists. We made and displayed over 40 experimental works of art including sculptures created from paper clay, hand-made paper and dissolvable fabric, paper and fabric hangings, and photographic pieces.
Start Lead Artist Wendy Teall explains:
“Start’s work, as part of this programme, echoed professional standards and methods found across the project, exploring and embracing innovative ideas. Artists and students alike, we thoroughly enjoyed this creative challenge.”
“It was full of the unexpected – I never thought of art being temporary before.”
“It’s changed some of the things I thought I knew about art and that’s been interesting.”
“Thinking about the damaging effects of vandalism, of accidents of weather and wildlife as something to relish is quite liberating – we found that the more the work fell to bits the more the gallery liked it – very different to anything I have done before.”