The beauty of being an artist in today's industry is being able to work across a range of disciplines with a variety of people, says Helen Carnac, who heads up Middlesex University's new Design Crafts course. Her collections of vessels crafted from vitreous enamel have built her reputation as a respected maker, but Helen has also established herself as a writer, curator, teacher, speaker and collaborator. A recent project saw her team up with a dancer for a six week residency exploring the nature of working practice and creative exchange.
"I'm interested in how you can make a practice from different elements that are very connected but may seem quite disparate," she says. "My work is predominantly about process and how you develop ideas through drawing, so I have lots of projects which aren't necessarily connected to creating 'objects', although they all feed in to each other."
In the same way, she encourages her students to think about how they will work as well as what they will create. "The world of work is changing," she says. "I have had quite a varied career, doing various things to put all my work together. We need to look at how to develop new modes of working so that we don't rely on old systems that aren't always sustainable. I want students to look at new ways of thinking about work and understand that they don't necessarily have to take on traditional methods."
Exciting opportunities can arise in unexpected places, and Middlesex's close art and design community creates the perfect environment for new ideas and encounters. "I really enjoy the open nature of the department and the shared resources," she says. "You meet people and have conversations along the way, and that's the way things happen – new ideas and projects come out of these short conversations."