Learning resource: Co-operation

The We are Commoners exhibition is divided into three themes: claiming, healing and co-operating. This page focuses on co-operating.

This theme is about social co-operation to get things done. By working together we can make networks and relationships stronger.

Featured Artists

square patches stitched with words, 'portability' and 'nomadic communities'

Ele Carpenter

Ele is a curator, writer and researcher.  She is interested in the social networks of making.

For We are Commoners she is showing the ‘Embroidered Digital Commons’.  In this project she has cooperated with hundreds of people to stitch an A-Z of 26 terms associated with the digital commons.   Doing embroidery is a slow process, the project has run over ten years and the words have been stitched by different groups and volunteers from across the world.

In this artwork, Ele is getting us to think about how the digital space connects with the social and the physical space.

Find out more

Visit the Embroidered Digital Commons website to see all of the stitched patches,  read all of the definition of the term Portability and find out a bit more about the project.

Take Action

Create your own stitching circle.  This can include people in your school but you could also connect with others virtually.  What new stitches do participants know that they can share with each other?

A small embroidered circular token

Deirdre Nelson

Deirdre is a textile artist.  Her textiles explore people, place and social history.  She mixes traditional techniques with modern processes such as digital printing.  She also works with communities helping them to explore social and environmental issues through making.

For We are Commoners she has used stitch to map commoning that occurs near to her flat in Glasgow.  She has also created her own ‘Guild of Commoning’ and awarded handmade badges to those community organisations that run on an exchange of skills or resources.

Deirdre believes for a community to thrive we have to take care of each other.

Find out more

Visit Deirdre Nelson’s website to find out more about her work.

Take Action

Many people have helped each other during the pandemic.  Can you build on this in your school community and set up an exchange system for a fixed period where families exchange resources and skills to help each other?  e.g. baking in exchange for DIY.

For her commoning badges Deirdre has hand-dyed her own cotton using natural materials from her local park.  Can you have a go at natural dyeing using resources you can find in the school grounds?

Deirdre also uses a stitching technique called couching? Can you find out how to do this?

Create your own commoning group in school?  They could create and award badges.

Other things to do

Have a go at this activity developed for the cooperating theme by Deirdre Nelson.

Map the spaces and resources in your community creatively.

This can be adapted to suit any age group. Curriculum links: art and design, PSHE.

Key words

People coming together to take care of each other and our shared resources.

A system of interconnected people or things.

To act or work together for a shared purpose.

Digital commons
Information resources and technology owned and used by the community. They are free and easy to access.

Where Next?

Fourthland: The new land we seek the new land we dream

Watch Fourthland’s new film.

a black and white photograph, exterior. Two large rocks with a person visible behind them holding up a bunch of grasses. The rocks are surrounded by trees.

Commoning Action 20

Take part in this immersive connection with Nature created by CAP

A man wearing a denim shirt and jeans in a park leaning on yellow strings which are tied around a tree. A woman with brown hair is opposite the man in the park, holding onto one of the strings to support the man leaning.

Artist: Fourthland

Rituals of making.

A close up of the exhibit, two rustic bowls on black stands and a large hanging decorated with small bundles of straw.

Artist: Gelawesh Waledkhani and Lise Bjørne Linnert

Collaborating with undocumented migrants in Norway.


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