In 2016 Caitlin Reilly, Chinese based textile brand Shokay and the Taikang Community Group collaborated together in an inter-generational art exchange that connected young and old in a meaningful creative dialogue producing a collection of work that today is exhibited in The Taikang Songjiang premises in China.
Caitlin and her daughter Pearl were invited to Taikang along with Shokay crafts people to initiate a series of workshops. These workshops involved group knitting, sewing, crochet, ink painting, water-colour painting, stencilling, portraiture and landscape painting. The workshops were an invitation to the participants to explore a diverse way of creating in a light hearted environment that could inspire and bridge connection between the residents at Taikang as well as all involved.
The works that were produced included long rope finger knitting, many ink portraits, crochet flowers, beautiful paintings of past memories as well as stencil works that significantly represented the cultural Chinese marker the Eternity symbol.
As the workshops manifested pieces that were individual and unique Caitlin’s intention was to embed these works into larger site-specific paintings and drawings to be exhibited in the Taikang Songjiang Gallery premises as well as begin paintings for the site at Guang Zhou.
The result was far beyond our expectations; these people had profound experiences that continue to inspire them today in their daily lives at Taikang.
In 2017 in collaboration again we went to the Beijing Site and the result was incredible. Producing paintings that have a tactility and vibrance because of the finger knitting and crochet pieces made in the workshops. When people come together in a creative space that is inclusive an opportunity for conversation and skill sharing, memories, laughter, gossip and intimacy build trust and break down cultural barriers. Self-doubt falls away and life experiences become the source of mark making and surprise.
As we made the pieces from the workshops an aesthetic has developed highlighting the playfulness and bright themes that are representative of the collaboration. The Beijing works will be housed on the walls in the Beijing Taikang premises and in doing so will cultivate a meaningful connection for residents to their home at Taikang.
As an artist I have been completely transformed by these experiences of collaborating with Shokay and the residents of Taikang. The scope for cultural exchange and impact of ideas, and creative outcomes that this project offers has pushed the boundaries of collaboration and made lasting relationships that continue to flourish beyond geographical, economical, age and social limitations.