When we first started working together we didn’t actually have a concrete plan as to how the project would evolve.
We knew we wanted to work together.
We knew we had things to say.
But we didn’t really know each other.
And we had never worked together before.
So we trusted our instincts and started to communicate.
At first we wrote letters to each other by email. We talked about how we were finding the lockdown. About the things that were important to us. The things that make us think. Some of these initial exchanges are included as outputs from our collaboration because they provide the backdrop, the context, within which the creative pieces emerged.
Then we started to exchange prose and poems about how we saw ourselves and our place in the world. Once the similarities in our ways of thinking and writing about the world became clear – and it happened very quickly – the conversation became intense. Emails and images, WhatsApp messages and emoticons went back and forth, a flurry of exchanges and ideas. The interweaving of our personal and professional lives was reflected in the our poetry which we wove together in the first instance – literally cutting and glueing sentences together – eventually co-producing work by giving each other the last word of a sentence one of us had written with the other person then using that to start their own sentence. Coming together was the result.
The energy in our conversations was always exiting and inspiring. Our weekly Zoom chats were loud and filled with laughter.
But there were tough times too.
Times when the pressure of the deadline or the ethics application or the need to ‘produce’ stifled our creativity and ability to communicate. To trust each other and what we wanted/needed form the collaboration rather than simply react or respond to another agenda or pressing need.
Times when the challenges of personal relationships, of motherhood, of being ‘Zoomed out’ sapped our energy and made it difficult for us to focus on what were already difficult and complex personal issues.
But we never stopped communicating.
Never stopped trusting each other.
Never stopped believing that our ways of working would produce beautiful and thought-provoking outputs because of our individual and collective commitment to the work, the ideas behind them and each other.
There are very few opportunities like this for work and relationships to develop organically. So much is driven by a deadline, a target, a box within which we’ve already put ourselves – or been put by others. A box that shapes the questions we ask, the ways we ask the questions and what we produce. For us there are many lessons to be learnt from this way of working and we intend to document it in more detail through our academic and other writing in the future.
For now we are just grateful to the lockdown, Coventry Creates and each other for the the opportunity.