“Collaboration is more than just combining the work of different artists. It does not involve subjugation or assimilation of an artist’s work, but rather adding to it. The energy of collaborating on a project produces creative output that spills over into the art practices of all the artists involved. The influence and challenge results in opening up new ways of working and through that, new artworks emerge.” Julian Maher – painter
Fe29 is based on the concept of collaboration, something Managers Cecilia Orr and Megan Mickelsen believe strongly in. The benefits from collaboration are not just the artworks that result from any specific project but more importantly the changes in the work and work practices of the artists involved, and the ongoing development of their work arising from the inspiration gained from the experience.
Cecilia first tested the concept in New Zealand after meeting Julian, a talented artist who was painting street scenes and running art classes just to survive. This left her little time for painting the high quality works she was not only capable of, but felt were essential to her well being.
Distressed by Julian’s plight, and with a desire to help, Cecilia invited Julian to move into her home and studio. As planned Julian got the time to paint as she was meant to, however this was not the only benefit. The advantages of working alongside each other became quickly evident as both parties not only saw increased productivity but also significant changes in their work. New materials and techniques were introduced and there was development in the style of both artists. They each felt they were becoming more free in their work and recognized that the imagery created more clearly and completely articulated what was in their hearts.
The move to working together on the same piece was a natural development. The initial collaborations basically brought their two mediums, copper and paint, into one image. One artist took the lead and the other followed with their contribution. The process could be likened to a conversation where the challenge was to speak with the same visual sentiment. Later works involved new materials and techniques for both artists, and they worked more closely together. There was significant discussion and debate as they conceptually argued the arrangement of each work.
Over a 6 month period the two artists completed more than 30 large works for their first collaborative exhibition in Dunedin (NZ), Transcending Pathos. These included paintings, mixed media works for the wall and furniture. The works were sold to both residential and commercial clients with many ending up in an award winning boutique hotel.
“As far as our first collaborative works are concerned, neither of us planned anything before we began. Rather it developed through the process of interaction and the inspiration that produces” Cecilia Orr
“By each being influenced by the other, our work has changed and developed which is what true collaboration is all about. As we worked on our exhibition, the collaborative process has not only opened up new techniques and materials for me but also strengthened my resolve to work in collaboration with other artists”. Julian Maher
Based on the benefits seen from this and subsequent collaborations, Fe29 has implemented a business model based on this concept. Fe29 offers selected artists the opportunity to participate in managed artistic partnerships through which they will receive support, encouragement and challenges. Artists are encouraged to be courageous, innovative and experimental, and to push themselves to go in directions they haven’t been before. Fe29 offers the facilities, tools and equipment of it’s Art Lab to its artists and provides guidance and oversight on all projects.
Artists are selected to work with Fe29 based on their talent, attitude and willingness to embrace new ideas, skills and techniques. They must be open with those they are working with and respectful of the opportunities to learn afforded them by the other artists. Fe29 does not just look to those who have already declared their interest in art, but also to those in a much wider range of fields. We encourage those with strong skills in any area, an eye for art and something interesting to say, to participate alongside our other artists.
With an aim to spread the love of art, Fe29 involves declared ‘non-artists’ in the art creation process, and so. when asked by invitees what they could bring to one of our Fe29 dinner parties, it was suggested they bring ‘a piece of driftwood and/or a fossil’. Work was underway on Journey”, a 20ft long piece which required these items to complete it. Megan was stunned and delighted to find their gifts were items they had each treasured over many years (some as long as 25yrs). They had appreciated being given the opportunity to participate in the process. A number of these pieces have already found their way into artworks, adding significantly to the meaning of the works, and honoring the generosity and value of the gifts.
“I like working with Fe29 for the simple reason that it stretches me. I become familiar with the habits and spirits of other artists and I learn a great deal from them. I encounter other materials and methods and am fascinated by the ways other artists achieve the things they do. But most of all I am stretched on the inside, almost forced to use a completely different part of my creative mind in order to imagine something that fits and flows well with the work of others. And it’s always a very satisfying feeling to stand back and look and realize that the thing we just finished is far greater than the sum of its parts. That moment always makes me believe that there is more to this life than what we see.” Mark Love