Our attempt at making work about collaborating is itself a real illustration of collaboration, although perhaps not a very interesting, or overtly visual one.
As Nous Vous we share a space together, work together and have at times lived together. That said, we are finding it increasingly difficult to just be in the same place at the same time. So far our House of Illustration residency has forced us to think about our working relationship. I read a nice quote by a group called Brave New Alps who said “The studio of today doesn’t need to be a space. It can just be a like-minded network of people”. This feels particularly pertinent. Can a shared ideology be enough to guide a collaboration? Can a collaboration be more of a social experiment? These are vague thoughts I would like to explore more.
So far we have been asking ourselves ‘can the collaboration go beyond simply illustrating the collaboration, or is this enough?’. A few years ago, when we were installing an exhibition in Belgium, whilst cutting up some wood we made a game:
This spirit was emblematic of our collaboration, through which we're always looking for a chance to play. So recently we made a big silly drawing machine that takes the three of us to operate. Although this is a nice illustration of how we work (and play), next we wanted to ask ourselves how to make an image that communicated this spirit. There are numerous examples of collaborations where two or more artists work on the same page, in sequence, or with a common language. Often these teach each collaborator something about their process, but might not resonate as proper work outside of that situation.
Here are some of our experiments:
Below are a couple of things that I've been working on, using the results of our games as inspiration. Both of the images are in response to a piece of text generated by Nous Vous, made by each of us adding a word in turn.
The difficulty can be in knowing what do with these experiments, but for now simply having the space to experiment is very welcome indeed.
Nous Vous Collective are House of Illustration's 2016 Illustrators in Residence. See the results of six months spent exploring the nature of collaborative work at our South Gallery exhibition. Nous Vous: Three Men in a Boat opens on 18 March 2017. Our residency programme is generously supported by The Barbara and Philip Denny Trust.