Nomadic workshop (2011-12)

The Nomadic Workshop

The Nomadic Workshop explored a mobile approach to collaborative construction and skill sharing. 

The main construction of the physical work and it’s concept was developed as my final submission for the Degree show at Glasgow School of Art in 2011. It has had many adventures since.

It was first exhibited for the Degree show as a sculptural object with it’s proposal for a future life beyond the gallery space, cycling the streets enabling a series of interactive public engaged workshops and exchanges of skills.


Intentions of use

‘A new era is dawning; modern man is demanding and exploring ways in which he can express his latent creativity, he longs to use his hands in ways other than pushing pencils, solving equations, writing orders, repairing cars, or fixing water faucets. He has accepted the plastics and metals of modern technology, but finds these cold and aesthetically undesirable. There exists a desire to create something out of the roughest beginnings of nature.’ (Wood for woodcarvers and craftsmen. Robert L. Butler)

The Nomadic workshop is a portable space designed to function as a platform for workshops and activities in an outdoor public environment. In its basic form it exists as a trailer with a bicycle attachment, containing a work bench (suitable for all types of  work, such as woodwork) a stool, tool racks, space for storage, a collection of books  and with an extendable canopy providing shelter from light rain.

The Nomadic workshop has three essential intended uses and can be borrowed or used for any activities that fit with in these intentions;

  1. As a workshop its first intention is to share and up hold craft and skills of making that require the use of our bare hands. In particular those techniques which use raw natural materials that potentially can be found and collected by anyone, such as wood, wool and re-cycled objects. Using processes that anyone can do and complete without any dependency on modern electrical technology. This is an attempt to reunite people through using their hands and their senses with elements from the natural world and instinctive creativity which can be traced back to the early activities of man.
  2. It is also intended to function as a workshop space that can empower people through the exchange and practice of D.I.Y. skills, basic woodwork joinery, fixing things, making simple household objects, making and mending clothes etc. Equally it can be used as a workshop which enables people to make and create appropriate things for their public environment and to mend and build things in the fabric of the urban or rural landscape within their own communities.
  3. By functioning as an interactive and public project this allows The Nomadic workshop not only to facilitate the sharing of practical skills but also to act as a kind of infrastructure or mechanism that enables social interaction between strangers and people from different backgrounds and experiences. This is an important way for us to understand the society and social context we live in and learn to respect individual differences. For this reason The Nomadic workshop must be accessible to everyone and anyone who wishes to interact. Neither time nor materials should be charged for so that no member of society is excluded. This also keeps the intentions of use honest and it prevents borrowers from using it for other intentions such as for financial gain. This also motivates the use natural materials that can be found and gathered or recycled materials. Systems of exchange of time/labour and skills should instead be explored in order to make the project sustainable. The growing collection of old craft books is another way people can contribute by donating or exchanging these resources.

Glasgow Harvest 2011

‘NVA’s Glasgow Harvest 2011 was a celebration of local food, hosted by community gardens in the South, East, North and West of the city. An irreverent homage to the village fête – centred on the Harvest Meal – each celebration featured live music, communal cooking, food sharing, workshops and competitions.’ (

I worked with the Glasgow Harvest 2011 program, using my Nomadic Workshop with a friend and her fantastic Christania Bike. Together we toured the north, east, south and west of Glasgow on different days, during the weeks leading up to the Glasgow Harvest event in that area. We stopped at different street and community places, schools, libraries, parks etc and used our bikes to engage with the communities. Running short workshops with passer bys, relating to the Harvest theme of promoting urban food growing. We taught people to make origami seed packets, paint re-cycled jars to sprout seeds, make creative containers for plants out of found and gathered objects. During the main Harvest events I also set up my Nomadic workshop and made sprouting grass heads from old tights with the children attending.

(click on image to enlarge)

R.S.A. New Contemporaries (2012) exhibition

I had the opportunity following my Degree show to re-exhibit The Nomadic Workshop as part of The New contemporaries exhibition at the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh.

(click on image to enlarge)

Nothing about us, With out us, Is for us, G.I. 2012

I was lucky to have the opportunity to use my Nomadic workshop to run a raft making workshop on the streets in Govan for Martin Campbells amazing Rag and Bone Workshop project as part of this fantastic Public Art event. The raft was built by local people using debris pulled out of the River Clyde.

(Click on image to enlarge)

Making process

A large amount of the ideas about how this project should look and also function, were developed during the weeks I spent in the workshop. From sketchbook to workbench, here is a short visual insight to this process.

Thinking in cardboard…

(click on image to enlarge)

Research; riding a rickshaw…

Learning to make mortice and tenon joins…

Making; wood and metal…

[1]Wood for woodcarvers and craftsmen. Robert L. Butler


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