Six degrees of collaboration

Six degrees of collaboration.

Here are 3 artists from Toowoomba who work very differently in different mediums to to collaborate together to create ‘six degrees of collaboration’. This was the exhibit at The Grid Ruthven st Toowoomba. 

Jack Atley, Fancy Darling and Thomas Neal have spent the last six weeks working closely together.

"We all have a different approach to art ," Jack says. "Tom makes stuffed toys. Fancy paints and draws and etches. I make unique 3D digital sculptures."

"Most artists develop a visual shorthand we communicate ideas with," Jack explains. "We've taken each other's visual metaphors, thrown them in a blender, and re-interpreted them individually and collaboratively."

Jack Atley  got  the idea from  Tunisian collaborative painting style to create the exhibition.

"As you do a collaboration you tend to lose control over the art. The art becomes its own thing. The imagery is repeated in certain ways. There's a flow through the work."

Fancy Darling says it took her a little while to get used to the idea of "letting go" of her individuality in her work. "But it's been liberating to incorporate all of the other images," she explains. "Sometimes you get a bit stuck in your own ideas. To be able to expand things has given me a broader toolbox of things to use."

Thomas Neal says we had  a lot of trust involved when sharing artwork to create the exhibition. "I'll come up an image and that I walk away from , then  I'm excited to come back and see what Fancy or Jack has done. We tend to complement each other. There's no competition amongst the trio."

"It's really exciting to see your work in someone else's hands to see it though their eyes. It wasn't a huge jump. It's a nurturing environment, rather than being competitive."

"I can be trapped in a room sewing a toy for days and not speak to someone. So having other people involved in the input takes you out of our shell a little bit. It might be a bit confronting at times. But it's a nice confrontation!" Thomas laughs.

Keeping a modern audience engaged can be a challenge says Jack Atley.

"It's a challenge as an artist to cope with people who can't wait for a website to load! I don't really like the word 'playful', but while this work is visually appealing, it's underpinned by broad social themes that are important and relevant and quite sacred to us as artists. The playfulness is more or less leverage to be able to engage an apathetic and agnostic public."

"I'm interested in seeing what people draw out of the work."

"There's a lot of sensuality and sexuality underpinning what we do. It's not a show for your children." Even though there are stuffed toys and  the characters are in a animation style, the exhibition is for adults Jack is quick to warn.

In keeping with the 'degrees' theme, Jack says more artists will come on board to the project. "The last person in, which is Tom, will invite the next person. We've got an artist in Sydney, a very established street artist lined up. He'll invite the next person. The whole thing keeps on expanding on itself," Jack Atley says.

Jack Atley will bring other artists on board. While still maintaining the ‘degree’ mantra. Tom who was the last to be invited to come on board will invite the next artist into collaboration. This will keep growing and developing. We’ve have invited a Sydney Based artist to come on board.

You can buy Jack Atleys work at


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