Not For Me, Not For You, But For Us

A review of the London LnDcowork visit to ScratchHub, a beautiful coworking venue in Battersea

Along with Gill Martin and Gaëlle Watson, I am one of three London LnDCowork hosts , and we are always looking for interesting new places to introduce to our network. Recently, we were fortunate to be given an introduction to ScratchHub, the coworking space at Battersea Arts Centre.

Battersea? Who coworks in Battersea!? Most of our London LnDcowork sessions take place very centrally – and we were interested to see how things would shape up if we moved out a bit, and (shudder) drifted away from the tube network. Any doubts we had were quickly dispersed; the venue is a short walk from Clapham Junction station and for many of our guests that day, it was as easy, if not easier to get to than the centre of the city. One of our guests travelled over from Cambridge, several overcame their ‘South of The River’ syndrome, and I think I had one of the most straightforward trips, a 20 minute train ride and a ten minute walk.

We were greeted warmly at the entrance to ScratchHub, located at the rear of the main building, and given a great space to work in. Battersea Arts Centre is a beautiful place – and a sense of being in a creative space is evident in the ScratchHub coworking area. As well as some theatrical symbols, the walls are adorned with prompts and ideas to encourage personal reflection, and a sense of engagement too. The place has a community feel about it, with a time bank on offer, and some board games. Play is an important part of what makes us human and it’s great to see playfulness being encouraged in a working environment.

‘Non mihi, non tibi, sed nobis’ reads the beautifully painted motto adorning the walls of ScratchHub. Not for me, not for you, but for us.

Beyond the hygiene factors (wi-fi, natural light, good acoustics, and an abundance of plug sockets) coworking is about two things; people and place. Both were spot on for this visit. 10/10.

Jayne Davids, one of our coworking guests, has put together a great short video which showcases both the beauty and creativity of ScratchHub, and why LnDcowork matters. I hope you enjoy watching and we look forward to seeing you at an LnDcoworking session soon; dates and locations of future sessions are available here.

I Had A Hand In This

Art is community : Community is art

In the Autumn of 2018, Jo Slater, who owns The Sun pub in Carshalton, approached me after I donated an art work to a charity raffle in the pub, and kindly offered some space for us to make art. Art In The Sun duly began in January of this year. A weekly gathering of curious adventurers, an experiment in experimental art.

Each session features an idea, maybe a theme, an offer of new tools, materials, techniques – just enough structure, and no more. People get to work, talking, sharing ideas, experimenting. I’m on hand if needed, but the process is largely about discovery.

Some weeks a hush falls over the group as the concentration levels rise, some weeks there’s loads of chat and laughter. We’ve been fortunate to have ELTEL perform with us a few times, and we’ve tried numerous techniques out since we started. Mark making, printing, stencil cutting, masking and layering, brushless work, tile painting, collaborative and solo works. The group takes it all on – confident in the emerging process. Plenty of our work ends up in the bin, and that’s OK.

A while back I suggested the idea of an exhibition – a chance to show our work to a wider audience. I recall the idea being received a little hesitantly, so we left it to percolate. Time passes, experiments continue, the idea is remembered again, and here we are, it’s exhibition day.

I’m off to The Sun. My role today is that of curator, and general setter upper. I’m proud of this lovely group of people and everything they have achieved so far, and I hope that today, I do their work justice for them. I have much to do, so I’ll wish you well and leave you with a hint of what is yet to come.

‘I Had A Hand In This’. Mixed media co-created collage, on A1 foam board

The Art of Getting to Know Each Other Better

A case study about using creative practice to build trust, and explore new ways of working together.

Productive, successful teams recognise the importance of relationships, not just with clients and customers, but with each other too. Redevco is a retail real estate investment management company, and their London team recently hired me to explore a creative way of getting to know each other better.

When doing something differently, the environment we work in is really important. Encouragement beats competition, process beats outcome, and a willingness to give new things a try, is vital. At its heart, art is simply mark making, something we all do all of the time, whether through doodling in the margins during a meeting, or writing the weekly shopping list. To this extent, art can be demystified, and we can agree that we are all artists. The session begins by setting the scene, including a brief introduction to the tools and materials we will use, before starting work.

As time passes, the work grows, overlaps and reshapes. People ask questions, talk about their experiences of creating something new, and keep going. Eventually we arrive at a single co-created piece.

Working together

We shift to individual work – abstracting using new materials and tools, hardly a paint brush in sight. We keep focusing on the process and make. The session concludes with people sharing some good conversations, and good work.

Brushless abstracts

Afterwards, the folks at Redevco said:

‘Doug came to our office to run an experimental art session with the aim of trying something new, having fun and getting to know each other better.

We started the session working together to produce a monochrome piece. Although daunted by the large piece of blank paper and hesitant to begin with, we soon got stuck in and it didn’t take long before our independent drawings morphed into a collaborative piece (which we aim to proudly display in the office). It was a really great way to start off the session, it loosened us up and got us working as a team. We then experimented using mixed media to create individual pieces, this enabled us to get really creative and meant we could leave the session with a piece of our own.

Doug was really engaging and passionate throughout, which helped put everyone at ease. It was great to see the transformation in my colleagues from start to finish; although apprehensive about their artistic skills in the beginning, with Doug’s encouragement we all finished the session eager to paint more! It was the hot topic in the office the following day, with everyone discussing their work.

Would definitely recommend and book again, Doug fulfilled our brief and then some….’

My experience as an organisational development consultant and artist gives me a unique perspective on how we can use art and creativity to help us think and do things differently, as individuals, as teams, and beyond. I’d love to help you explore this too.

Destroy to Create : The original collaborative work, cut and mounted as 15 new pieces of art.