For the last year, Gemma Lacy, Helen Mather, Mandy Tolley and Kiran Williams have been exploring their practice in a collaboration called the Exquisite Corpse Project. They each brought to their first meeting a piece of unresolved work. Each piece was passed on to one of the other artists, to work with, work on, develop or deconstruct as they saw fit. This process happened four times, so that each artist has contributed to each sub-project, and the whole was exhibited for a day in Chorlton, Manchester this weekend.
Of the four pieces my favourite was 'Rabbit Hood. It began as a hessian cap with bunny ears attached, the next artist evoking memories of dressing up as a child, added a cloak and some printing of butterflies.
The third artist, inspired by the darning on an Egyptian top in Manchester Museum, added darning and photographed the hood and cloak in a wood with a backdrop of autumnal sunshine and leaves creating a 'beakbook' which is folded such that part of the content is hidden.
The final artist took the hidden and secretive quality of the book, and created a finished piece in which a beautifully constructed lining is hidden within the cloak and the hood. The cloak also has a row of buttons which close the garment completely. On opening the cloak, a complete fantasy scene is revealed, an interpretation of William Morris's 'Strawberry Thief'. The darning on the hessian is revealed with lined peepholes, sewn into the lining.
The artists also recorded the process in a blog http://manchestercloth.wordpress.com/ which, though brief, gives some insight into the way the artists worked together.
This is a fascinating collaboration, not just because of the outcomes, which were visually very rich, but also because of the level of openness and trust that the artists have shown, in their lack of 'preciousness' about their work, in their joint 'ownership' of the the work, in their generosity towards each other. I'm looking forward to seeing more collaborative work by this interesting group of artists.