Cultural-assets and Vernacular Materials (C&VM)

Exploring sustainability in the creative economy (SE Asia) through creative practice

Dr Marianne McAra, Professor Lynn-Sayers McHattie and PhD candidate Gamia Dewanggamanik have successfully been awarded a British Council International Collaboration Grant to undertake C&VM: an international collaboration between The Glasgow School of Art and Wendy Teo at The Borneo Laboratory, Creative Agency and Cultural Platform for driving Borneo Aesthetics. This grant is designed to support UK and overseas organisations to collaborate on arts projects, encouraging innovative ways of working. 

The C&VM project seeks to deepen understandings of the role cultural assets can play in enhancing the creative economy in Borneo, SE Asia. Across the Indonesian and Malaysian context, a range of complex innovation, equality, and sustainability challenges have created barriers for practitioners and artisans to actively participate within the creative economy. The aim of C&VM is to contribute to sustainable development towards addressing Global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to provide decent work and drive economic growth (Goal 8), contribute to thriving industry, innovation, and infrastructure, (Goal 9), reduce inequalities (Goal 10).

Taking place over the next year, C&VM will form a community of practice of 10 practitioners and will develop an innovative model for distributed engagement to explore and highlight the significance of craft practice and vernacular materials – for example natural fibres such as flax and bamboo, pandan (screw pine), lontar (palm leaves), rattan and hanjeli (pearl barley), and natural dyes. We are keen to explore challenges in (re)connecting with natural and local materials towards responsible production and consumption; creating sustainable innovation ecosystems; and exploring socioeconomic challenges in communities linked to changing landscapes. 

The project will host the ‘Gotong Royong’ event (meaning cooperation in a community). This distributed and digital event will take place over two weeks where participants and stakeholders will be invited to share their knowledge of local cultural assets and explore key sustainability challenges experienced at regional, national, and global scales. The ‘Gotong Royong’ will showcase a virtual exhibition of the practitioner’s craftworks and will culminate in a plenary to reflect on the programme and identify opportunities for action to support longer-term social, economic and cultural impact, partnership-building, and future collaborations.

About the British Council 

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We build connections, understanding and trust between people in the UK and other countries through arts and culture, education and the English language. Last year we reached over 80 million people directly and 791 million people overall including online, broadcasts and publications. Founded in 1934, we are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter and a UK public body. We receive a 15 per cent core funding grant from the UK government.

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