Making Up Your Street is a collaboration between Design-Nation members Laura Mabbutt and Kathleen Smith. We asked them to tell us more about their project, which they’ve continued to run successfully throughout 2020’s lockdown.
Laura and Kathleen: We could say that Design-Nation had a pivotal role in the origin of Making Up Your Street (MUYS). Having met each other a few years earlier when Kathleen exhibited in a show that Laura was curating at The National Centre for Craft & Design (Design-Nation’s base in Lincolnshire, known as NCCD), we came across each other again during a printing workshop organised by Design-Nation for Lincolnshire members. During the workshop we spoke about our practices and came to the conclusion that we should work together on a project. A few weeks later we met up and Making Up Your Street was born.
The idea of Making Up Your Street is to provide a mobile maker space with ourselves as maker/tutors, something that could be taken to unusual locations; to give people a chance to experience creative activity and get involved on their own terms. We have an array of equipment available and work with people to make what they want, rather than a predetermined workshop outcome.
Since forming MUYS in 2018 we have taken the project to arts destinations across the county including NCCD, 20-21 Visual Arts Centre, Groundlab, Mansions of the Future and also B-Arts in Stoke. We’ve led projects for the Transported team as well as developing and delivering our own (supported by a grant from Arts Council England). At the end of 2019 we were selected by the Crafts Council to be one of their Make:Shift:Do projects, taking our mobile making lab to Crosby One Centre in Scunthorpe.
Before we could complete the project lockdown hit, which led us on an interesting journey to a new way of working. After some discussion around what was already available online during lockdown from others and the ethos of our own project, we decided to create craft kits to send out to our participants from Make:Shift:Do. This has been successful and led to us being commissioned to do other lockdown responsive projects, both as MUYS and through our own separate practices as makers (Laura’s background is in textiles and Kathleen in metalcraft).
Our many activities have involved craft challenge zines, video tutorials, and eventually our current project The Craft Catalyst Club with Transported, through which we ask participants to fill in a questionnaire and then prescribe them a bespoke craft package delivered to their home. The project includes weekly zoom chats and text / email support for participants through the course of the project.
We have learned so much since founding Making Up Your Street and the challenges of lockdown have taught us even more. We are now planning to take our lockdown learnings and utilise our new skills and outlooks on community making for a further action research project. We hope our work will continue to take creativity to the masses at a time when it is needed more than ever.