Collaborative Mark-Making and Conversation
Kam Rehal
Project overview —

This work comprises details from a series of graphic studies that correspond with the durational, embodied processes and cycles of growing within allotments and shared spaces, details of works produced as part of a pilot study to develop collaborative methods for researching situated social contexts, and drawings generated with members of allotments and growing groups. This experimental practice forms the ‘collaborative mark-making and conversation’ (cm-mc) approach, which has been tested within workshops across 4 shared growing spaces – the critical act of speaking converging with the generative act of mark-making within a synergetic relationship. An open call invited members of allotments and growing spaces to participate in open dialogues, generating collaborative conversation and drawing, reflecting on experiences and perspectives relating to growing within a shared space. The research problematises the relationships of researcher-practitioner-participant-observer within ethnographic approaches for researching and articulating the perspectives, experiences and practices of situated social groups.


Kam Rehal is a PhD Candidate in the RCA School of Communication and Programme Leader for Graphic and Digital Design at the School of Design, University of Greenwich. His research interrogates emerging perspectives of place – encountered within the current social and political context – and questions the role and responsibility of the subjective researcher within local communities. Through his research-practice, Kam explores design, writing and making, situated within the theoretical and material contexts of conversation, environment, participation and performance.

In 2019, he designed, co-edited and contributed works to the flash fiction collection ‘Story Cities: A City Guide for the Imagination’ – engaging the physical printed book to facilitate reading as a narrative spatial practice.

Since 2018, as part of an EU (£4m) research project funded by Interreg Europe, Kam has been working with colleagues at the University of Greenwich, leading on the development of a co-design research methodology to engage Academic and Social Partners across North West Europe – the Ruhr area, Greater London, Flemish Triangle, European Metropolis of Lille, and Tilburg. The ‘Empowering Youth through Entrepreneurial Skills’ project aims to produce a common (EYES) approach, communications and digital tool that can be implemented across regions to support Coaches, Volunteers and Young People in addressing educational, employment, training and entrepreneurial needs.

Prior to his academic appointment he led the graphic design team at the Natural History Museum and was senior designer at Imperial War Museums. Kam’s professional design experience covers environmental graphic design for museums, galleries and physical spaces, book and editorial design for publishing, art direction and design management, and frequent collaborations with other artists, writers, researchers and makers.

'durational act 2: loosening–raking' (detail), May 2022. Pen and ink drawing, corresponding to movements when working with soil
'durational act 3: tapping–beating' (detail), July 2022. Pen and ink drawing produced with implement mounted to stick, rhythmically tapped to generate marks
'cm-mc' pilot (detail), November 2022. Collaborative mark-making corresponding to 'digging' / 'raking' — working with wooden dowels into poured plaster of Paris
'cm-mc' pilot (detail), November 2022. Collaborative mark-making corresponding to 'dibbing' / 'seeding' — stamping ink on paper with wooden dowels
'durational act 1: un-earthing–re-earthing', 2022-2023. Pen and ink drawing produced over 1 year, corresponding to experiences of working with soil
'durational act 1: un-earthing–re-earthing' (detail), 2022-2023