We were artists in residence for a year long project with Dalkeith History Museum at the Dalkeith Corn Exchange.
Fiona Maher, heritage development officer for the Corn Exchange developed a longstanding friendship with KMAdotcom, which began when she saw our exhibition at Dalkeith Palace.
She invited KMAdotcom to make their own version of some of the items in the museum collection and the stories about escaped monkeys and Victorian roller blades that in truth, actually happened.
This was a turning point for KMAdotcom, because some of our artists engaged directly with a story, film or photograph, and others needed a different way in.
We needed a more equitable way of speaking to each other.
We favoured actions over words, without overthinking or taking ourselves too seriously. This worked really well to include everyone – quiet or sociable, industrious or playful.
We began playing with what we made, or using key words or sayings to create group ‘shout outs’. Instead of being static in familiar working areas, we moved around the studio more. We changed the start of the workshop to allow people more direct control, for some of this this meant he conducted us, like a choir master.
It changed the familiar patterns and dynamics within our workshop, and challenged our assumptions about how people like to contribute. Those we assumed were shy, were not. Those we assumed preferred to work alone, joined in.
This residency afforded us new confidence to reconsider the role each artist plays in the making of an artwork so everyone contributes on their own terms.
The work we made referenced Midlothian’s textile industry, weaving and brick making past with our own workwear, bricks and interactions with the museum space. We ran workshops for the museum volunteers to get a sense of our studio practice, so they could let visitors know the stories behind our work.