24 October 2006

Well Hallelujah!

I can't believe it! After posting comments yet to be 'approved' by blog owners, and attempting to get my comments actually ON the blog ... maybe this time it might actually work! Someone design a user friendly thing without such an ugly name! Anyway, rant over, lets see if this actually DOES publish my comment or whether mechanized monsters are actually out to get me, and it's not all in the mind!

Houston calling Dundee, Houston calling Dundee! Come in Dundee.Looking at the future of crafts. Well, it's not the future as we know it, that's for sure! It was very interresting to listen to the different accents and drawls, the nuances of differing local cultures between those in New York, San Fransisco, and far off exotic places (for us) The ideas were just as different. The leaders in the craft world accross the Pond, are administrative - gallery owners, curators, collectors, sellors and historians of 'art', very few 'makers' and most of them had little to do with their practice now that they were involved in the business and political side of it all. Educators appeared to be the ones most likely to be involved in practice. Where was the craft? Well, in the galleries were examples of well known 'artists' of craft or was it craftsters, or artists using craft as a medium, or craftspersons (dirty word) doing craft art? Terminology was bantered to and fro between intellectualized rhetoric which was a mirror - so it seemed - of the craft world. Crafts appears to be devided into the 'hobbyists' the 'DIYists' and 'homecrafters' none of which had their work underpinned by intellectual rigour. Jump the great divide and you find yourself among those who do not want to be craftspersons, but are all referred to as 'artists'. It appears that if you do any form of art; be it electronic based, craft based, paint based, installation based or anything else that demonstrated intellectual rigiour, you are an artist - no longer a craftsperson. Is this the way forward? To revert to the age old terminology, ie art being all encompassing and therefore artist being the executor of the personal vision through whatever medium he/she wishes at the time? Could that be retrogressive or progressive? There were no answere. Many questions, some timid ones from practitioners and students right at the end - but no answer.The networking, contacts, laughter, penetrationg discussions, and comments over meals were probably the most important aspect of the conference. There was much to think about! Many email contacts to be maintained, and sleep to be caught up on.Houston signing out Nanu, nanu!


  1. Actually I think there were a lot of makers in Houston, though as "leaders" they are mostly teaching and running things. This just reflects the messy way that hierarchies have been established in the field. One can only admire the japanese National Living Treasure designation as it reflects a general appreciation for traditional arts in their society. As for being "artists", I go back to Dave Hickey's formulation: you are an artist if others embrace your work, if the world takes your work to heart. He calls himself a typist and leaves it to others to judge whether or not he is a writer. It was encouraging that the presentations by "leaders" was getting everyone on edge by the second day and I agree that the real work was done around the presentations in the halls and around tables at meals.

    david richardson blogging for the Furniture Society at FS After Hours


  2. Food for thought David. I have been looking at 'living National Treasures' too as I thought it was an interresting comment. I would have loved to have found the makers and had a good chat to them. I will peruse your blog and see what you are up to as well. Keep in touch.