In Conversation with Capture Collective's Co-Directors
There’s growing recognition, both from the university’s department of Art History and from the St Andrews student body, that a largely Western narrative remains at the forefront of art history scholarship and limited diversity and accessibility deter young artists from creative exploration. That’s where Capture Collective comes in. Capture Collective, an arts-based collective in St Andrews, knows of these two truths in the visual arts community. The Saint sat down with the co-directors of Capture Collective, Agnese and Serena, to discuss this arts society and its mission, values, and content.
Q: So how long has Capture Collective been about?
A&S: Since around 2018? We are the third generation of directors.
Q: And where are you two from, what type of art do you love, and do you have a favorite medium?
A: I’m a fourth year from Rome. I’m interested in post-war art and ceramics.
S: I’m a third year from London. I’m a lover of all periods, but particularly enjoy studying oil on canvas.
As explained by the pair, Capture Collective ultimately seeks to promote art outside of the Western narrative in the discipline. With nineteen committee members, the group hopes to make the town’s art and learning opportunities available to anyone and everyone.
A&S: The Collective doesn’t charge a membership fee, we want it to be open for anyone to join and participate.
Since both the university and students recognise the limited approach to art history internationally, the collective diversifies the town’s art opportunities with three types of events.
Drink and Draws
The event is efficiently named. You pay three pounds at the door of a local St Andrews pub, you drink, and you draw with your friends. It’s a casual and accessible series of events. The collective has art supplies for participants to explore their artistic side and socialise with friends over a few pints. There’s live music and an upbeat energy of fun and creativity. Casual opportunities to draw can be therapeutic, an escape from deadline stress. Capture Collective donates two of each three-pound entry fee to a local charity and uses the remaining pound to pay for the supplies used at the events. At a Drink and Draw session last year, the collective’s entrance fee was any sort of canned good, all donated to St Can-drews, which allocates non-perishable donations to food banks across Fife.
The group also sells posters designed by some of the collective’s artists. It offers feminist art and gives student artists a platform to showcase their diverse work. 80% of the profit goes back into the collective and the remainder to contributing artists.
Q: Any artists you’d like to shout out?
A&S: Mary Whitlock! She was head of graphics last year and designed the graphic on our tote bag.
Alternative Art History Lectures
The word ‘lecture’ generates the same picture in the student's mind. A large room, laptops, and notebooks open, a module coordinator, and a PowerPoint. Capture Collective has a different look for lectures. Alternative Art History Lectures meet in the basement of Aikman’s on Bell Street. The group invites outside speakers and Ph.D. students at St Andrews to speak on Art History topics often overlooked or outside the Western perspective of Art History scholarship. Last year, it invited faculty members such as Carine Chelhot-Lemrye, Anne-Sophie Daffertshofer, and Clare Fisher, who spoke on the debate on confederate monuments and sculptures spread out across the United States. These ‘alternative’ art history lectures aim for casual yet informative energy. Twenty minutes of speaking, followed by a question and answer period.
Lastly, the group puts together exhibitions of student art, for which the most popular submissions are paintings and film photographs.
The second component of Capture Collective’s mission comes through its content team. Content comes from the graphics team, of course, but also writers, those interested in exploring their personal interests in non-Western and non-traditionalist artistic movements. Capture Collective posts these pieces on its Facebook and Instagram (@capturecollective.sta) to generate exploration and information on overlooked topics in the discipline, and its website is currently under reconstruction.
I first heard of Capture Collective when I joined drink and draw during a stressful week last spring. The relaxing break I didn’t know I needed. And this year, I saw more of what they had to offer at a poster and tote bag sale in Taste on North Street. Capture Collective places itself in the community, accessible to the community, and ultimately for the community. If you’re interested in participating in this approach to non-Western and non-traditionalist artistic forms, as a curator, writer, or learner, Capture Collective welcomes you.
Graphic by Mary Whitlock