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."

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Double launch of Craft Aotearoa and Kete

It is with pleasure that we announce the launch of Craft Aotearoa in Wellington at 5:30pm on the 6th September at the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts.

We look forward to this opportunity to thank all our supporters and friends who have endorsed our objectives and encouraged our development. It has been an amazing journey thus far, and we have really appreciated all your messages and support! To register your interest in attending the launch of Craft Aotearoa please RSVP to

We hope you can join us in celebrating our recent registration as a Charitable Trust. We will also announce the preliminary results of the 2012 New Zealand Craft Survey - the first major craft research project to be undertaken in New Zealand. Nearly 500 people have shared their views on craft in New Zealand to date. We have learnt a lot about your views on a broad range of topics such as opportunities for developing craft skills, engaging in craft activities, and what you see as important going forward.  It is not too late to share your thoughts as the consultation closes 31st August. Share this link with your friends and colleagues and click here to take the survey:

Supporting the launch of Craft Aotearoa will be international guest speaker Kevin Murray, online editor for the Journal of Modern Craft, Vice President of the World Craft Council - Asia Pacific region and former Executive Director of Craft Victoria. Closer to the launch we will announce the full line up of speakers.

To co-incide with our launch, the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts will also launch Kete, a three day craft and design fair & symposium where 14 galleries will present a fresh perspective on contemporary craft/design in New Zealand across a range of mediums including jewellery, ceramics, glass, textiles and furniture.

Kete is supported by Museums Wellington City and the Sea, Wellington City Council, Newstalk NZ, Dunbar Sloane, and Museum Hotel and participants include Anna Miles Gallery, Bowen Galleries, Chambers241, David Trubridge, Designtree, Dilana Rugs, F3 Design,Textile Design Massey School of Design, Masterworks Gallery, The National, Toi Maori Aotearoa, Vessel, Whitespace Gallery, Whitireia NZ Visual Arts & Design.

Craft Aotearoa believes Kete is a must-see event. Keynote speakers Kevin Murray (mentioned above) and internationally renowned designer, artist and lecturer David Trubridge (one of the top 15 designers in the world according to 2008 French magazine Express) along with other guest speakers will also deliver an outstanding lecture programme. All lectures will be held at The Todd Room, Museums Wellington City and the Sea as follows:

Friday 7 September 1-2pm: Simon Manchester. Collecting New Zealand Applied Arts
Consultant for Applied arts at Dunbar Sloane, Wellington, Simon is an authority on New Zealand ceramics and collections from the studio period of the 1930s to the present day. He has a comprehensive knowledge of local ceramics, encompassing the post-war period and the country’s engagement with international arts practice throughout the 1950s and 60s. In this lecture he considers relationships between ceramic objects in the broader context of the Applied Arts and collecting.

Assembled Feature Lightsades by David Trubridge.
Friday 7 Sept 4-5pm: David Trubridge: Kete: spirit/mind/body

David has received numerous international awards for his designs. In 2008 French magazine Express listed him as one of the top 15 designers in the world. In this lecture he will discusses the segregation of art, design and craft and the creative process and the associated knowledge, experience and skills they all share. ‘Kete Arounui (bamboo basket), spiritual world Kete Tuaatea (polycarbonate basket) and our rational world Kete Tuauri (aluminium basket). The knowledge needs to be in balance for us to live harmoniously on Earth.’

Saturday 8 Sept 3-4pm: Dr. Jessica Payne: Textiles created at the interface between traditional and emerging technologies. (Further information in due course.)

Saturday 8 Sept 4-5pm: Kevin Murray Biculturalism in 21st century Craft of the South.
Kevin discusses the relative distance between indigenous cultures and Aboriginal and settler cultures in Australasia in the 21st century. Does the practice of a jeweller in Aotearoa New Zealand such as Areta Wilkinson provide an example for current bicultural methodology? Kevin Murray is a Melbourne-based curator and academic and online editor for the Journal of Modern Craft. He was Executive Director at Craft Victoria from 2000 until 2007 and has curated exhibitions such as Guild Unlimited: Ten jewellers make insignia for potential guilds, and Common Goods: Cultures Meet through Craft for the 2006 Commonwealth Games.

Sunday 9 Sept 4-5pm: Andrew Just, F3 Design: Thinking in Boxes? Christchurch and filling in the gaps. Andrew is an architectural designer and advocate for transitional architecture, its design and engagement with city planning, as fundamental to the well-being of communities. He has been involved in transitional architecture designs in Christchurch following 22 February 2011, developing affordable and environmentally friendly solutions to the city’s new spaces. Andrew will discuss the potential for transitional and temporary designs to simultaneously fulfil the immediate and long-term needs of communities.

Further information:

For further details about Craft Aotearoa and to access the latest New Zealand craft news visit

For further details about the launch of Craft Aotearoa and to register your interest in attending the double launch of both Craft Aotearoa and Kete please RSVP to

For further details about Kete please contact Dr. Warren Feeney at
Kete: Contemporary craft-design fair
7-9 September, New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts, 1 Queens Wharf, Wellington