20 April 2007

Craft at the Cutting Edge


National Museum of Scotland

A group of us recently visited ‘The Cutting Edge’ exhibition at the Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, a major craft exhibition showcasing some of the best crafts practitioners in Scotland.

Our visiting group comprised of craft practitioners, researchers and educators and we arrived full of expectation and excitement as this exhibition, by its very title, promised to present the freshness of crafts practice. It promised new, ambitious, daring crafts and we felt sure it would ‘wow’ us with cutting edge practice, reflecting the breadth of craft that we know is definitely ‘out there’ in Scotland. The ‘Cutting Edge’ Exhibition (still showing until 26th April) has also come at a time when Craft and issues concerning Craft are being discussed with increasing frequency, raising public awareness outside the ‘recognised’ crafts arena. Therefore the timing of this exhibition is perfect.

The foreword to the exhibition states, “the cutting edge clearly demonstrates the wealth of well designed, beautiful and brilliantly made objects in modern day Scotland” (Aitken et al., 2007), and there were some pieces that clearly fitted this description, balancing innovation with aesthetic integrity. But, here comes the gripe, overall there seemed to be a ‘much as before‘ feeling, and the potential value of craft as ‘cutting edge’ seemed to be lacking spark. Therefore I think this exhibition raises pertinent questions about craft practitioners time, in particular the necessary time needed to develop new ideas and concepts whilst under pressure to make a living. Craft practitioners know how difficult it is to balance skilled making, thinking and aesthetic reasoning with earning and striking a balance is often difficult. The Cutting Edge also raises questions regarding the future of crafts and crafts practitioners and how and what this balance should be in the future. Investment, is surely the key….isn’t it?

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