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  • Writer's pictureJo Sutherst

Positions and Practice – Week 3 – Collaboration

Another interesting and challenging week!

Our task this week was to post a comment, sentence, headline or photograph of our choosing. From that, we were to choose a group to work with to produce a collaborative piece of work.

My posting was a quote by Robert Moss –

“If you have fairy blood, even in the tiniest degree, you must live close to Fairy Land, and eat a little fairy food, or else you will always be hungry.”

I expected this to be a bit of a ‘curve ball’ for some of my peers, so was interested to see who might be interested in joining me on a slightly crazy journey!

I was joined by Philip who posted a line from John Keats poem – ‘To Autumn’

“Seasons of mists and mellow fruitfulness”

The group was also joined by Kevin who posted a photograph he had taken of three blue fish at Bradford Abbas, Dorset on 28th September 2016. It is attractive to me due to the vibrancy of the blue and thought that autumn colours could be part of our theme.


Figure 1: Kevin Darling-Finan 2016

Our group of 3 was complete!

Early on we agreed that our collaboration should draw on the strengths and interests of each of us. These were all based around autumn – Natures Bounty (Kevin), Autumn Recipes (Philip) and Fairies (me).  After considering the various forms of outcome we could produce, we decided to produce a magazine.  A quick discussion and planning session and we had a format.


Figure 2: Sutherst 2016

It was agreed that I would put my Photoshop skills to good use and compile the pages.  Each team member then went off and worked on their areas.  Within 72 hours of starting the project, it was complete!  We had 8 pages!  We were so pleased and proud of the team effort.  We had spent many hours communicating and bouncing ideas off each other that we have developed a working relationship that will, I am sure, go on to collaborate again in the future.

The magazine allowed me to present some of my fairy images for the first time, which was exciting.  The magazine has a feeling of fun and humour about it, which I was able to seize upon and add into the page on Feasts for Fairies.  I was able to use my imagination to create back stories for the images to fit with the autumn theme.

Collaboration ran though the whole magazine.  Images and text from each of us appeared on various pages. We had so much fun and didn’t really notice the short timeframe given to us as much as some of the other groups reported.  We achieved our objectives of producing an outcome that demonstrated our common theme whilst allowing each of us to maintain some of our individual identity.

Feedback from our peers included that we were motivated and enthusiastic, which was contagious.  Out tutor commented that we had used the vehicle of a magazine that allowed us to express ourselves and our team work.  He suggested that ‘we had all got on the bus for the journey’.  It very much felt that way – we were in this together and we had the most amazing time doing this project.  I feel as though I landed on my feet with Kevin and Philip on board the ‘bus’ with me and I am very grateful to them for sharing this journey.

The other interesting aspect of this week was the opportunity to view the outcomes of the other groups.

The other group who presented in the same webinar as us, took images each of them had taken separately and created 3 triptychs.  The outcomes were really interesting as each group member had a different take on the aesthetics and form of the triptych they were responsible for.  There was a cohesive feel to the 3 versions in the colour palette that was dominant in the resulting images, however the forms presented reflected the individual styles of each group member.  I was keen to know whether any individual felt they had more ownership over the triptych they had created, as they had put more of their creative self into this image.  The group were very clear that ownership belonged to all 3 of them, as the triptychs would not have existed without the collaboration of each person.  I was intrigued whether any of them had any concerns or feelings about other people editing their images.  It was apparent that this was a positive effect of the group work.  Each group member needed to accept this was going to happen and move away from any feelings of possession and protection of their images and trust that their colleagues would produce worthy triptychs. It was interesting to note that this group felt more pressured by the timeframe and I wonder if this is due partly to the fact that the group members were located in different time zones across the world.

In the second webinar, one group presented a project that captured portraits of strangers and their wishes.  The concept was as interesting one with everyone having something that they wish for in their lives. The faces shown and their wishes, brought a real sense of who the people were and how complicated their lives could be.  It reminded me that appearances can be deceptive.  This project was presented as 3 separate sections which prompted me to ask a question about ownership of the images.  There was a clear delineation of which group member had produced which image.  Each person presented their images separately.  The group felt that as they were all working on a common theme, ownership was shared.

The next group produced digitally manipulated and combined images that looked at the effectiveness of natural remedies.  The images produced were both interesting and at times disturbing, especially when enlarged on the screen.  I found the approach informative and thought provoking.  The base images used were of one individual.  I wonder if the results would have been more or less successful if images from different individuals were used.  This was a team of 2, which in my opinion worked very well.  I feel that if a third person had been involved, the overall outcome would have been different and may not have had the same impact as these images did.

The third group in the second webinar presented the theme of public spaces.  The group was spread across the world and were able to record this theme well in my opinion.  The group presented the images as a collage with no delineation of images.  The work was presented as a whole and was very effective in demonstrating the commonalities and differences in people around the world and how they use their public spaces.  The group chose to present their images initially in black and white and then in colour as a contrast.  This clearly demonstrated how much colour detracted from the intended outcome.

So, again another week where I have been challenged and excited about my practice. I now need to give more thought to the vehicle that I am going to use for my project and what the final destination is.


Keats, J. From To Autumn. 2016. To Autumn by John Keats – Poems | Academy of American Poets. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 09 October 2016].

Moss,R. From Goodreads. 2016. Quote by Robert Moss: If you have fairy blood, even in the tiniest de…€ . [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 09 October 2016].

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