The Nomadic Toolkit

has been inspired by the travelling craftsmen , the tool trolley for making do at Artspace, the experience of packing for residencies (from Gleaners Garden Journal, with Kirsten Dryburgh, Enjoy Public Art Gallery), and organising projects for RM.

A loose evolving tool-kit, of small tools, frugal materials, makeshift resources, recipes, instructions for actions and ways of being. It travelled to Cambodia, Sweden, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Italy and Japan in 2014.

Flexible and multi-faceted, it has been fantastic for engaging with creative practitioners and everyday people alike, sharing slivers of artistic practice from Aotearoa, creating a starting point for play and interaction, and adaptable for many presentation contexts. Accumulated serendipitously through my wanders, it meant that I was always ready for impromptu making:

Jun-14 Widen the Margin of Play! Sa Sa Art Projects, Phnom Penh, Cambodia: frustrated with language barriers, I took the content of my studio out to the public, to see how materials can facilitate exchanges. Children appeared out of nowhere and started to play, yielding surprising and delightful results.

Aug-14 Open dialogue with Aura Seikkula, Ben Vickers, Antonia Manoochehri, FuturePerfect festival, Grinda Island, Sweden: I passed around the photo-cards and made the toolkit available to play in the middle of the panel discussion on participatory art, changing the power dynamics of the discussion and making everyone a “participant”; the same material was later set up for the Co-creation Space of the festival, as an interactive, evolving installation (although I found out that the children in Sweden are much more “polite” than the Khmers).
Sep-14 distracted workshop: “Starting something we cannot finish” as part of split/fountain’s contribution to the Brno Biennial of Graphic Design 2014, Czech Republic: the hands-on playing yielded enjoyment for all participants, including performative games, improvised musical instruments, and tips on finding drinking water on the road).
Nov-14 fabric forms for Sprint independent publisher’s salon, ‘O, Milan, Italy (facilitated by Caterina Riva, activated by Giovanni Riggio and other volunteers): the unusual fair context and tight parameters (cannot hang anything on the walls and I will not be present for the fair) resulted in the creation of suggestive (loosely instructional) fabric form pieces, activated/performed by the gallery volunteers at intermittent times (I heard it was a lot of fun!).
Dec-14 Always have nuts and seeds in her bag, Green Alam Kitchen, Nagano, Japan: a collaborative performance with contemporary dancer Chikako Kitajima, facilitated by Makoto Maruyama. Photos and video clip by Makoto Maruyama.

Some existing components:

- laminated photo-cards of makeshift research (an idea from a-small-lab):
fantastic as a conversation starter, inventing and playing games with them has been convivial and enjoyable for people from all backgrounds, and works well in many social situations (discussions, performances, workshops, shared dinners). To inspire surprising rambles and story-telling. Also great as gifts, planting seeds for further exchanges.
- Fascial release massage, to help someone feel well-oiled and flexible like a gazelle! (from Graziella Ecofrey’s contact improvisation class, Geneva)
- Dynamic stretching as morning routine (from Kerry Castell-Spence)
- Old bike tyre inner tubes: available free everywhere with a bike mechanic, infinitely useful and flexible
- Wire coat hangers: malleable for a variety of purposes
- Baking soda: as tooth paste, deodorant (thank you Dan Poynton!), and toilet cleaner

Contributions always welcome!

Do you have some nomadic tips and materials you’d like to share? Email summerxc (at)