Art in Liverpool, issue #24 – Editorial

Collaboration is tough. It’s a revolving series of compromises, and requires mutual understanding, and the ability of all parties to listen to the fears of others, and for each to accept the skills, and skill gaps, of those they’re working with.

After all, the nature of collaboration in its best form is to combine expertise to deliver something otherwise undeliverable.

We’ve been good at it, and we’ve been bad at it. I lose patience, or collaborators lose patience with me. There are countless projects I’d love to revisit, having learned more about the challenges of collaboration, with a more patient head. But they’re gone, so I’ll look to the future.

I’m currently exceptionally excited about something that might not even happen. I started this week a normal amount of excited, but then serendipity raised its head and a team appeared.

So I’m writing this month’s editorial between edits to articles, and reflecting on what we didn’t focus on in the original articles. How well the artists, curators, venues, participants, and in some cases funders, have worked together.

The next page is Dead Pigeon Gallery (a collaboration in itself between Jayne Lawless, Josie Jenkins and Catherine Dalton) who have worked with a team of photographers collaborating on education and their own recovery, who are in a gallery that came about because they bumped into Pete and Helen who owned an incredible building. Yes there are simple roles for each, but it’s more than facilitators+artists+building=success.

It’s a similar story at Convenience Gallery for Jon Edgley’s solo show (cover story). It’s Jon’s name on the posters, but the effort of Andrew Shaw & Ryan Gauge to activate ideas and set them into a year long programme sets the tone.

For both of the above, the collaboration seems natural. Basically, reliant on actually getting on, and caring about each other as individuals.

For others, those collaborations can be more subtle – in some cases, so subtle the collaborators never actually meet – as is the case with Very Public Art, where the collaboration is between the artworks rather than the artists. The playfully guided tour of Liverpool city centre is made up of independently produced works, which have accidental relationships with each other (and have, individually, been the products of collaboration).

My point, if I have one, is that it can take time to find the right way of working together.