Sunday, 26 August 2012

Help shape the future of craft practice in New Zealand

Share your views in our online survey by Sunday 2nd September.

If you design and make contemporary, heritage or traditional craft objects in any discipline, then we want to hear from you! There is only one week left to share your views. Senior craft practitioners, mid-career, emerging, graduate, and students are invited to share their thoughts on craft practice in New Zealand today. What are the strengths of the New Zealand craft sector? What should we celebrate? What is in need of improvement either nationally or in your region? Don't miss this rare opportunity to share your views on craft education and training opportunities and more. Tell us about your own practice, what inspires you, and how you make and sell your work so we can develop the first real profile of the New Zealand craft sector.

As part of this research project, we are also seeking the views of students and recent graduates. We know how hard it can be to forge a career in the early stages - tell us about any initiatives that have helped you or what support you would ideally like to access. Maybe the jewellery mentoring project Handshake is something that other disciplines can emulate? (The latest Handshake exhibition featuring 12 emerging jewellers is now on at The National gallery in Christchurch.)

We are also seeking feedback from Christchurch, Lyttelton and Canterbury residents in three questions. Craft Aotearoa has been contacted by CERA (Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority) who have expressed interest in the results.

We are a demand-led organisation and will look to develop projects based on the survey feedback so we are seeking as many views as possible. This is the first time that a major craft research project has been undertaken in New Zealand and over 600 responses have been received to date (a sample of which is copied below). Thank you to all the organisations, galleries, industry groups and individuals who have so far contributed and helped to promote this significant research project. 

What are the strengths of New Zealand craft? 

"The amount of people involved in doing some type of craft (nearly everyone)!"

"The dedication of its serious practitioners. There are m
any who give their lives to it for little reward and become very accomplshed."

"Its strength is its New Zealandness. While aware of and following international trends, there is a distinctiveness about NZ craft that makes it special."

"I think its strengths are diversity and ingenuity, from the traditional to the innovative. I celebrate the sustainability of using recycled materials and homegrown skills."

"We are very contemporary in our high-end craft compared to much of what I have seen overseas."

"We have a free-thinking range of makers here who because of our geography are not bound to tradition. We have a unique cache of reference material that can be explored and used as content for wider, more universal, issues. We have a multi-cultural base of makers to call on, each bringing their own take on technique, tradition and aesthetic."

What is in need of improvement?

"I think there is still possibly not enough value placed on craft in some sectors and that is why we need Craft Aotearoa!"  

"Craftmakers undervalue their own work. This then rolls out into the marketplace where customers don't understand how expensive it is to make the item that they are planning to produce - craft is undervalued. There is little understanding the of skill and time it takes to make high-end craft."

"The weakness is there are no standards in place."

"As a professional craft master I am very concerned about quality (of craft in New Zealand). It is great that there are many groups who do craft to have fun but the feedback which is given is sometimes incestual and the overall quality of higher end crafts is lacking.....NZ is a wool country by tradition and the woolcrafts need some boost or skills will be lost." 

"Craft is generally seen as a poor cousin by most top galleries and much more recognition of the significance of handmade craftworks as a unique way of working is needed.  Also a pervasive idea that craftwork is of less cultural significance than fine artwork."

"By communities/society as a whole: recognition of it's value and importance across different contexts - from formal fine arts type contexts where craft is viewed for its aesthetic and 'artistic' functions through to contexts where crafted items are used as functional objects as part of everyday life. At instructional/educational level - provision of opportunites for developing qualification and career pathways in a greater diversity of craft disciplines/mediums - and with scope for the purely creative/artistic approach to craft through to a more commercial (design) focus."

"More exposure to the world class skills in each field - to stimulate activity, expand on skills and add to the depth of vision for New Zealanders wishing to improve their skills. To do this, support and energy is required from teachers, mentors, government agencies, educators and local councils."

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