Sam Eichblatt visits MakeSomething – A Collection of Collaboration, a group exhibition with a twist.
December 3rd, 2010
“I’m a bit shell-shocked about how responsive people have been,” says Auckland-based graphic designer Bevan Tonks. He recently curated and participated in Make Something, the first of what’s planned to be an annual exhibition of new creative work by six graphic designers and their six collaborators, who hail from music and effects production, and product, fashion and architectural design.
A first-time curator, Tonks developed the idea after a conversation with an architect friend about the commercial realities of his work. “I was saying, is this all I’ve got to play with?” he says. “Make Something was a way for me to have fun outside work, but it would have been selfish to keep it to myself.”
Putting the word out through his networks and inducing colleagues to crack open their contact books, over six months he brought together a distinctive set of collaborative projects from what is, traditionally, a territorial local design scene.
These include sculptural pieces referencing insect exoskeletons by Brogen Averill and product designer-du-jour Jamie McLellan and a typographic and sound work by Tana Mitchell and Julia Deans, from the band Fur Patrol. Alt Group’s Dean Poole, who turned 40 during the exhibition, took his collaboration into cyberspace, posting a question in the form of a task on Amazon crowd-sourcing service Mechanical Turk. The question: What one thing would you like to do before you turn 40?
“The answers ranged from the hilarious to melancholy to downright weird,” says Tonks.
Plans are in action for next year, with the idea that the designers will nominate their successors, and continue building a platform for future alliances. “This year, it was like herding black cats in a dark room,” laughs Tonks. “I’ve learned a lot, particularly about collaboration. It’s surprisingly easy to work with someone who has the same mindset as you do – like an instant relationship.”
Photographs by Phillip Simpson
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