Mac Collins | Open Code

Thursday 15th September - Friday 4th November

In March 2022, Open Code was commissioned by Harewood House, and firstly staged at the Harewood House Biennial within an 18th-century estate home as part of Radical Acts: Why Craft Matters.


The wealth of the estate was amassed through the exploitation of enslaved people in the Caribbean. Collins worked alongside the archivist, in scrutinising the records and collections held by the estate. He was keen to explore the relationship between these conflicted spaces, and the Caribbean community now settled in the UK. As a popular location for the Windrush Generation, Nottingham now has a large Caribbean population.

Consequently, Collins undertook a research-based residency at New Art Exchange (NAE), Nottingham. During his residency, he explored his heritage as part of the Jamaican diaspora, engaging with community figures and groups living in Nottingham. He met with Premier League Dominoes, a Caribbean dominoes club held at the Lime Kiln pub in Hucknall. As a popular game in Jamaica, dominoes now hold a significant position within British Jamaican culture. The game is played in many ways, with rules and nuances that differ from the European game. Principally, competitive Jamaican dominoes is played in teams, with a theatrical level of charisma, vigour, and bravado. He found the action of observing and playing Jamaican dominoes, in an English pub, to be a profoundly British experience.

Within certain variations of Caribbean-style dominoes, ‘Open Code’ refers to the system of subtle gestures exchanged between teammates. These slight shifts in body language become coded clues to indicate the dominoes in their possession without using spoken language. The exhibition Open Code by Mac Collins nods to shared truths and realities. At Primary, this iteration features a newly staged installation, including a sculpture which has never been shown. The exhibition seeks to portray the significance and permanence of the Jamaican presence within British society.

Mac Collins is an emerging British artist, working at the very intersection of rational design and conceptual art. Collins’ evolving practice is broad, spanning furniture, object, product, sculpture, and installation. Through this practice, Collins sees an opportunity to communicate complex ideas through the influence of physical behaviour and actions, within a given space. This perspective has long been the impetus behind his narrative-rich, design-driven, art methodology. In the summer of 2018, Collins graduated with a degree in Three-Dimensional Design. Since then, Collins has been committed to creating work that is conceptual, yet intrinsically physical, tangible, and interactive. Through research-based projects, Collins has sought to observe, and critique, aspects of the society and systems in which he exists. As an artist of dual heritage, Collins draws on his Caribbean lineage, creating work that allows him to explore his position within the Caribbean Diaspora, and contemporary British society.

Collins’ work, Concur, was acquired by the Design Museum in 2021. Other accolades include being named in ‘12 Talents Shaping the Design World 2021’ by The New York Times; and becoming the recipient of the Samuel Ross SR_A Grant Programme, London, 2021. Recent awards include The Ralph Saltzman Prize, the Design Museum, London, 2022; The Emerging Design Medal, London Design Festival, 2021; the Young Design Talent of the Year Award, Elle Decoration, London, 2021; Winner of the Rising Star – Product Design Award, Homes & Gardens, London, 2021; Best in Show Prize, the Young Furniture Makers’ Exhibition, London, 2018; Cræftiga Prize, Hole & Corner, London, 2018; and the New Designers Belmond Award, London, 2018.

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