Ellen Dissanayake's opening keynote adopted an evolutionary perspective of how humans are biologically prepared to make and respond to the arts. In ways that indirectly addressed current events Ellen presented her argument that our psychology which was developed in the Pleistocene period needs mutuality, belonging, meaning, developing hands on competence, and showing care about the important things in life that are not being attended to in a secular complex world. The opportunities for the above are not automatically available.
Martin Woolley from Central St Martins followed with his keynote 'Making Futures' where he challenged us to move more in the direction of science where our 'craft ethos' could put us at the forefront of developing new materials and technologies rather than waiting patiently for them to trickle down to us in the crafts. He acknowledged the argument that the crafts can be an antidote to contemporary culture whilst probably true he felt was unhelpful if we are to move in the direction that he is advocating. This would be a moving from what he described as intelligent making to making intelligence. He is also aiming to start a crafttechculture blog in the next three months addressing these issues. A lot of people are now using the expression 'craft ethos' and yet we still have to articulate what we mean by this.
There were stronger hints of it however in the parallel sessions that
followed. The conference is organised around three streams of parallel sessions focussing on Craft Knowledge, Craft Theory, Approaches to methodology, Gendered issues in craft and Crafts & well being. Carol Gray and Gordon Burnett from Grays in Aberdeen (see image on right) talked about connected knowing that was based on relationship and adopted an epistemological orientation. Eija Vahala from Finland also talked about how her research has demonstrated the ways in which the crafts can enhance a sense of well being and the ability of individuals to contribute positively to society. Given recent events a fitting note perhaps to finish the days proceedings.