Culture & Business Fund

VISUAL ARTS

Making plastic truly fantastic

Culture partner | The Glasgow School of Art

Business partner | Midton Plastics

SOCIAL, CIVIC & ECONOMIC VALUE

Community & social empowerment | Education & learning | Environment | Tourism | Young people

 BUSINESS PARTNER BENEFITS
Business and/or brand name awareness | Corporate social responsibility (CSR) | Creative development | Developing community links | Direct access to target audiences | Enjoyment | Image enhancement | Marketing | PR opportunities

 The project

Materials Matter ‘Remade’ was a project delivered by Midton Plastics and The Glasgow School of Art (GSA) Sculpture and Environmental Art department between December 2021 and November 2022. Using the recycled plastic material ‘Remade’, twenty students created six public art sculptures, produced a film about their experiences, and staged a public exhibition at Midton Open Day as part of the Argyll Art Map. They also collaborated with industry experts on the design of a publication that documented every aspect of the production process and commissioned written content from Dr Elizabeth Hodson on New Materialism, from Justin Carter and Sue Brind at GSA, and from Midton’s Managing Director, Craig Cameron. In November 2022, the students organised a final exhibition at French Street Studios in Glasgow where the film was shown and the publication launched, and at which Dr Elizabeth Hodson gave a talk.

 The partnership

Based in Lochgilphead in Ayrshire, Midton Plastics is a leading industry specialist in cast acrylic and custom acrylic materials, working with some of the world’s leading brands. Their culture revolves around exploration, experimentation and refinement to deliver beautiful objects in effective ways and ‘Remade’ is their own trademarked circular-economy product – a unique and sustainable alternative to virgin acrylic.

Initially, Midton approached The Glasgow School of Art (GSA) to propose a student competition and this rapidly developed into a sponsorship agreement based on the two organisations’ mutual interest in materials, fabrication and sustainability. Midton has been expanding its fabrication for artists – specifically sculptors – so a collaboration with GSA presented an ideal opportunity to raise the profile of their organisation and products. For GSA, imaginative use of recycled material aligned well with the increased focus on sustainability within their School of Fine Art curriculum and in sculptural practice more widely.

Thanks to match funding through the C&BS Fund, GSA were able to deliver a number of additional elements between December 2021 and May 2022 – specifically, the exhibition, public talk and publication as well as the production of the documentary film and coverage of the project across GSA social media channels.

The positive outcomes

For GSA, the partnership offered unparalleled professional development opportunities for the twenty emerging artists who benefitted from working to a live brief from a commercial client and absorbing new and vital technical knowledge. The students gained experience in submitted proposals, receiving feedback and going through a selection process as well as undertaking site visits to test and realise their ideas and artwork. Additionally, the match funding enabled the students to commission a video from an industry expert, which included interviews, footage following the technical development of their work onsite at Midton, and footage reflecting the conversations and collaborations that took place between the students and the staff at Midton. GSA feel that working with Midton has allowed the art school to engage with rural communities and demonstrate the benefits of sponsored curriculum projects to supporters and academic colleagues alike – the project was subsequently been showcased to Glasgow Chamber of Commerce.

For Midton, the process of working with emerging artists offered the opportunity to be more experimental and to work with often unexpected outcomes while helping to promote their brand and company ethos, including targeted promotion to GSA alumni. The emerging relationship also laid the foundations for future ambitions to stage further projects in public settings. Looking ahead, Midton hope to work with local communities and local economic regeneration bodies who may provide locations for public art produced by students. This could, for example, be in Lochgilphead’s waterfront area where sculptures would make a positive contribution to a local authority area that is arguably under-served in terms of arts provision.

The project engaged directly with 238 people but reached audiences in excess of 130,000 through marketing and PR activities, including a ‘take-over’ of the GSA Instagram account by the students.

Plastic has become synonymous with the catastrophic environmental issues we are currently facing, and for good reason. Part of the goal of this project was to reuse and revalue plastic as a material, to rethink it and to remake it with the critical knowledge we now have. The journey we have all been on together, fundamentally of learning, has been not only been valuable but also great fun.
Sue Brind, Lecturer, Department of Sculpture and Environmental Art | The Glasgow School of Art
At Midton, we are passionate about supporting creatives and encouraging new possibilities for artists. As an under-appreciated, and under-used material within the art sphere, we hoped for an opportunity to educate and engage a new generation of artists to see the benefits of using cast acrylic through their art. The creation and development of Remade presented the perfect opportunity to do this.
Craig Cameron, Managing Director | Midton Plastics

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