Wednesday, April 27, 2016

my thoughts on Playing for time: making art as if the world mattered

Playing for Time: Making Art as if the World MatteredPlaying for Time: Making Art as if the World Mattered by Lucy Neal
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really liked this book. It is very much about collaborative, community based art work encouraging people to think about their communities, resilience and sustainability. Local sustainable food was a continuing theme. One of the projects looks at transitioning local practice, with the aim of more people in a particular area growing hops for local beer or growing food in areas around bus stops, with the idea of encouraging foraging. Librarians and libraries were key to many projects as there were strong information elements in some of the art works and projects - "the librarian is in". Reading through it sounded like there were collaborations with makers and craftivists as well. Another theme in the book was moving from bystanders to activists, with art, action and inclusion.

There are many ideas for how libraries could work with their communities, without the book being explicit about their inclusion. There was an excellent council project, called the Remakery, where (obviously) things were remade, including wood, textiles, bikes... This is a an excellent fit with maker spaces, as this is another slant on that, and brings together skills in the community, and through reuse, is good for the environment. Creativity was a key part of the Remakery as well, and it helped skills up people with classes in sewing, carpentry, computer repair.

Many projects would lend themselves to collecting material for local studies, like the wonderfully named 'Happiness bottles', recording happiness, and the diarykeepers project where locals recorded what was happening in their gardens. The Happy museum project manifesto is "exploring how contact with cultural experience can kickstart healthier and happier communities".

There is a lot that is whimsical within the book and a lot which is practical. For many of the projects sufficient information is provided so that others can implement in their community, including hints about partners, costs and so on. It is very much about connecting people to other people and to place. They are projects which connect diverse communities and are inclusive. It is highly illustrated to show the projects with lots of description (so you could make the project happen).

It is not a book to be read quickly. It took me a long time to read, mainly because it is large and heavy, and so was not a commute read for me. It also had lots of ideas to think about, and I will read it again.

I did a search on Trove and this book is held in four libraries in Australia.

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