The British Council, on behalf of the UK, participated in this year’s Experimenta Festival which launched in September 2009 in Lisbon. We presented our response to Timeless, the brief set to us by Experimenta, which formed one of the four exhibitions at this year’s festival (the others were presented by India, Portugal and South Africa). Timeless was shown at the Museu do Oriente from 11 September to 8 November.
Alongside our co-curator Clare Cumberlidge, we commissioned six designers and collectives; Åbäke, Linda Brothwell, Anthony Burrill, Fabien Cappello, Ben Kelly and public works (see below for brief introductions), asking them to respond to the dual implications of the subject - urgency and the passing of time. Each of them created work which explores the idea of ‘place’ within ‘time’ through a series of site-specific commissions which appeared around Lisbon.
In the UK the idea of design as a process to avoid making new things or to subvert dominant modes of production, distribution and consumption is increasingly taking hold in creative practice. There is a growing desire to turn away from the new, to achieve more with less and to look afresh at the past in order to create new creative and social values. This mining of the past, the local and the particular has resulted in a new form of design and creative practice that maps processes, embraces character and place, and ascribes value to making, improvisation, collective action and participation, networks, and ethics.
, a collective of four graphic designers - Patrick Lacey, Kajsa Stahl, Benjamin Reichen and Maki Suzuki - created a graphic representation of the UK’s contribution to Timeless in the Museu do Oriente, which documented and contextualised each designers’ work. This included the location and process behind their own commission at the Museu da Cidade. The Museum houses a model of Lisbon from which the Museum itself is absent. Åbäke produced a model of the Museu da Cidade, placed within its own grounds, thereby creating a ‘mise en abyme’ (image right).
Click here to see images of the commission by Åbäke - with thanks to Susana Pomba aka missdove
, graphic designer and illustrator, collaborated with his printers Harvey Lloyd Screens. Anthony and Harvey Lloyd Screens produced a series of posters using Portuguese typography and a local phrase which appeared in both English and Portuguese and were flyposted in public locations around the city.
Read about Anthony Burrill's experience in Lisbon on his blog for Eye magazine.
graduated from Jewellery Design at the Royal College of Art in 2009. She uses traditional techniques to repair everyday objects within the public realm. In Lisbon, Linda worked with damaged park and street benches using the traditional Portuguese technique of wood inlay.
, is a recent graduate of product and furniture design at the Royal College of Art. Fabien created an inventory of the skills and knowledge of local manufacturers, makers and craftsmen in Odivelas, a suburban area in Lisbon, demonstrating that every individual maker is a step in a larger process (image right - some of the works produced by Portuguese ceramacists that Fabien worked alongside).
Read about Linda Brothwell’s and Fabien Cappello’s experience in Lisbon on their blog for Eye magazine.
is best known for designing the interiors of the Hacienda nightclub in Manchester and The Basement at the Science Museum. Ben’s commission was based on an exploration of the rural and he inserted an element of the English countryside in to the urban experience of Lisbon through the positioning of two oak stiles in the city's streets. Visitors are invited to climb the stiles, interrupting their pace and marking their passage (image bottom left).
, a collective of London based artists and architects, develop participatory public realm design schemes and encourage interdisciplinary debate. public works set up an ad-hoc production stall where simple seats and stools were made from locally sourced material and knowledge. The stools were distributed on a non-monetary basis, the only requirement being that recipients bartered informally.