Collaborator Profile: Doug Shaw

Doug Shaw is a multi-disciplinary artist working with a range of materials, techniques, and surfaces. Doug works from his studio, on location with clients all over the world and with Arts Network Sutton. He has helped deliver several components in the Sutton STEAMs Ahead programme.
Doug Shaw

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I'm an artist living and working in the borough. In addition to my own practice which currently explores our local natural environment and connectedness, I regularly work on art projects in the community. I enjoy opportunities to bring people together to express their creativity, and make new connections. These connections may be with our own creative abilities, other people, and/or the environment. For me, all are necessary to support thriving communities.

How were you involved in Sutton STEAMs Ahead?

I was one of a team of five people who presented our project ideas to the Greater London Authority. I was delighted to be included at this early stage and really pleased that Sutton was successful in securing the Cultural Impact Award, which turned Sutton STEAMs Ahead from an ambitious dream into reality. I subsequently represented Arts Network Sutton on the Cultural and Science Advisory Board throughout the project. In my role as Project Manager for Arts Network Sutton I’ve helped to promote many of the events and I’ve participated as a volunteer too.

I took part in Stories From The Shed, and ran a series of sketching and making workshops on location at Little Holland House. I chose to get involved because I think Little Holland House is a fantastic building with an amazing story. My goals were to help raise awareness of this important local historic building, and introduce people to it in creative ways. Visitors were invited to look around, sketch what they saw, then convert some of those sketches into 3D objects using air drying clay. The project provided an excellent new way for people to engage creatively with local history, and as a bonus it met my own artistic interests.
Doug Shaw holding a square of clay
Three clay owl figurines with white and yellow colouring
Doug Shaw led a clay-based group activity where attendees moulded different features of Little Holland House in Carshalton

What does STEAM mean to you?

STEAM is a great way to connect learning about different, and interdependent things. The five elements of STEAM interact with each other - it's rare to be able to practice just one on its own - my principal practice as an artist is frequently informed by science, technology, engineering and maths.

Were there any highlights and/or take-aways from being part of Sutton STEAMs Ahead?

Key highlights for me included seeing so many people from different backgrounds leading and taking part in a range of exciting, innovative and creative activities. Sutton STEAMs Ahead has provided opportunities for residents in the borough to experience some of the best we have to offer in science, technology, engineering, the arts, and maths. At the start of this project – we talked about what success might look like, and I sketched that conversation. Looking back at that sketch now, I think the community did a great job of bringing all this to life.

The sketching and making workshops I ran at Little Holland House project were designed partly to raise people's levels of curiosity and interaction with their surroundings, which is part of how my own artistic practice works. I've adapted the workshop idea to other locations, including Sutton Community Farm, and I've tried it in adult art classes too. Air drying clay is a simple material to make basic shapes and designs with. It dries quickly so there's a challenge to work fairly quickly and try to keep the materials moist but not too wet. The material also works best when you try and tease a design from a single piece of clay, rather than sticking individual elements together. We learned and adapted our practice as we worked to help overcome these material challenges.
A sheet of paper with several illustrations exploring teamwork, connectivity and inspiration

What’s up next for you?

I am keen to continue to engage with Sutton Council on future creative collaborations. In addition I run Art In The Sun, a regular monthly experimental art workshop for adults where we take a new idea or technique every month, play with it and see what emerges. These take place at The Sun in Carshalton with future dates available online.
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Sutton STEAMs Ahead