Friday 27 April 2012

Craft Matters in the UK

One of my favourite magazines is Crafts: The Magazine for Contemporary Craft. Published bi-monthly in the UK by the Crafts Council, I always look forward to reading their thought-provoking articles and find the photos engaging as well.

Rummaging through older copies is like opening a treasure trove. Out pops the Craft Matters brochure inside one magazine which states that 'the Crafts Council's goal is to make the UK the best place to make, see, collect and learn about contemporary craft.' Thousands pledged their support for craft during the Craft Matters campaign. I've picked some out some of the comments for your interest: 

'It draws on one of our earliest and most important instincts - forming material by hand in order to enrich and change our immediate environment.' Andrew, Edinburgh.  

'I am convinced that in this era of globalization, craft is the most visible and concrete way to discover, understand and appreciate the diversity of cultures.' Indrasen Vencatachellum, ex Director of UNESCO's programme for craft development.

'Helping professional makers to do what they do is as important to me as supporting new music, film and visual art. The skill and processes that a finished object represents is far more tangible than most give it credit for...and objects can still be functional as they ever were, going back hundreds of years, or they can blur the boundaries of what is possible in the 21st century with digital tools and contemporary thinking.' Nick, Edinburgh.

'One of the great empowering things about learning craft is that it is almost a physical manifestation of 'I can change the world.' ' Grayson Perry. 

I wonder how New Zealander's would respond if they were asked why craft matters to them? One of my other favourite quotes from the Craft Matters brochure is that of Jeanette Winterson OBE who says that 'the most satisfying thing a human being can do - and the sexiest - is to make something. Life is about relationship - to each other - and to the material world. Making something is a relationship. The thing about craft, about the making of everyday objects that we can have around us, about the making of objects that are beautiful and/or useful, is that our everyday life is enriched.'

So, craft enriches our lives and it seems, there is recognition and significant support for craft practice in the UK. Food for thought really......especially when considering the New Zealand context of how one first learns craft, or more specifically, the methods of learning within formal and informal settings, the quality and accessibility of craft training, and range of levels. Craft Aotearoa is interested in researching how craft skills are acquired (among other things) and will soon launch a national research project. If you would like to find out more about this, become a key partner or share your views then do send me an email with your contact details so that you are on our database:

Finally, when reading through Rosy Greenlees' (Crafts Council Executive Director) article in the July/August issue of Crafts, it is interesting to note the recent political shift towards craft education in the UK. Rosy reports that John Hayes, the Coalition Minister for further education, skills and lifelong learning has recently spoken about 'the role hand-crafted beauty plans in our lives, and how as a nation, we need to recalibrate our priorities, to reconsider how we value higher education, and to re-assert the importance of learning through doing.' Going forwards, I wonder what the strategic priorities will be for craft education and learning here in New Zealand? Are we arming our craft artists and makers with the best possible skills and opportunities to push the creative boundaries of innovation, ensuring New Zealand remains not only relevant, but at the forefront of the global world of craft?

PS. Don't forget to fill in our poll on whether you believe there is a craft revival in New Zealand at present.

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