How might artistic and transformational aspirations and aims be aligned in practice?

The CreaTures Laboratory forms the creative core of the CreaTures project and gathers a collection of 20 experimental artistic productions (ExPs) to illustrate a variety of aspects related to the transformational potential of creative practice. The Laboratory contributors come from diverse professional and cultural backgrounds but they share the common desire to foster positive eco-social change and help grow pathways to better futures. In their ExPs, these artists, designers, researchers and activists recognise that working towards future flourishing is a political act that requires systemic shifts, which need to sprout from pluralistic considerations of what a positive change might mean, to whom.

The CreaTures Experimental Productions (2022).

The CreaTures Laboratory ExPs bring the complex task of making, or being an active part of, positive societal change into situated, everyday life contexts. They invite diverse human and non-human stakeholders to a co-creative exchange on what living and working towards better futures may entail. By providing occasions for peer learning and experiential engagements with a range of eco-social themes and issues, the ExPs have empowered many participants to imagine, reflect on and enact their potential roles as agents of change.  A detailed overview of experiences and outcomes that emerged from the 20 ExPs is available in the CreaTures Co-Laboratory Catalogue – a free, open-access publication, which is accessible both as a pdf and in print.

The CreaTures Co-Laboratory Catalogue (2022).

The ExPs were curated together in an open-ended manner, at different stages of the three-year CreaTures project: some were invited at the project’s outset, others were commissioned later in response to the unfolding CreaTures research and emerging themes. ​​This open-ended and relational approach to Laboratory curation reflects the process-based nature of many transformational creative practices, where it is often accepted that meanings emerge over time and initial standpoints are likely to change, rather than being fixed. This approach enabled us to be reflective and flexible in responding to current social and ecological issues as well as emerging concerns (such as the global pandemic).

While each ExP was brought into CreaTures as an authorial project (proposed and produced by each author or author group individually), the ExPs were shaped up collaboratively, drawing on insights and inspiration shared by all CreaTures contributors. The Laboratory thus unfolded as a collaborative space for shared moments of reflection, supporting new relationships and connections. An overview of all activities and events that happened within each ExP is available in the ExPs Timeline.

Throughout the three years, the Laboratory created ample opportunities to experience how (a sample of) creative practitioners do their transformational work on the ground, in their distinctly situated contexts: what production methods and techniques they use, how they engage participants in co-creative reflection and action, how they bring diverse eco-social themes into their local or otherwise situated settings. These insights provided a rich resource for the CreaTures research and enabled the project to distill key methodological lessons and evaluative strategies concerned with the transformational potential of creative practice (see the Observatory and Evaluation sections for more details).