Thursday 21 June 2012

High Demand for Craft Gallery Space

There is overwhelming demand for dedicated craft gallery space in New Zealand with 77% indicating this is the most preferred way to show and sell craft objects, according to Craft Aotearoa’s first online poll earlier in the year. By comparison, exhibiting at a multipurpose gallery was the least preferred method. Online exhibition and sales of craft were a strong second (49%), followed by craft fair/show (32%) and retail outlet (32%).

In light of these findings, Craft Aotearoa approached four craft galleries in New Zealand for a response. We received interest from Form Gallery in Christchurch and Objectspace in Auckland and would like to thank Koji Miyazaki (Director) and James Horgan (Senior Gallery Assistant) of Form Gallery; and Philip Clarke (Director) and Laura Howard (Programme Manager) of Objectspace for taking the time to share their thoughts with us

1. Were you surprised to learn that the most preferred way to show and sell craft is in a dedicated craft gallery space and why do you think craft practitioners prefer this option above others?

Form: Yes, Form was very surprised. In a dedicated craft gallery, there are a number of factors present which are missing from the other examples:

*  knowledgeable staff as first point of contact is vital (online there is a delayed reaction time to queries)
*  a dedicated space that allows individual works to be seen and touched (retail/multipurpose gallery’s sometimes feels cluttered and certain works are dominated by others)
*  a relaxed atmosphere where the client feels at ease and not pressured to buying (craft/fair).

Objectspace: No. This is understandable. Many New Zealand craft practitioners report that there are limited opportunities for them to show within the existing network of visual arts retail/dealer or public galleries.

Form Director Koji Mijazaki, Kim Henderson & Akane Nakao
2. Could you share with us your thoughts on the role of craft galleries – how do they contribute to advancing the NZ craft sector? Has this role changed over time or remained the same?

Form: The role of a craft gallery is to promote – the artist, the work, the gallery itself. To be professional in all its undertakings, to give knowledgeable advice and service to the client. To build up strong ties with its artists and relationships with its list of clients. The role of the gallery has changed slightly over the years; of course clients are becoming more knowledgeable and in a consumer environment, are looking for the best price. This only really becomes an issue when a practitioner begins to show their works in differing outlet types – ie. craft gallery as well as fair, online or multipurpose gallery. What we find is that it undermines the role of the dedicated gallery and its value that it puts on works.

Objectspace: We are dedicated to positioning making - principally in the fields of craft, applied arts and design - within a range of cultural, economic and social frameworks in order to provoke new assessments about the making, functioning and value of works and practices. We are unique in New Zealand in having this focus. If other parts of the visual arts infrastructure shared this aim, Objectspace may not need to exist but currently the profile and visibility that we give to contemporary practice and practitioners is not widely generated by other institutions working across the visual arts.

Objectspace opened in May 2004 as the result of practitioner-led efforts over many years to create a more supportive environment for innovative objectmaking in New Zealand. Following the 1998 Persuasive Object conference, a group of practitioners, curators, educators and sector supporters came together around a vision of a dedicated centre for craft that would be a new sort of hub for the craft sector. With the assistance of Creative New Zealand, the working party engaged Starkwhite to research the need for such a centre and how it might operate. The 2001 Starkwhite Report found that there was a need for such a centre and proposed options for its operation. In 2002 the working party became a legally constituted organisation with charitable status chaired by jeweller Warwick Freeman. Following the preparation of detailed strategic and business plans in late 2003 Creative New Zealand agreed to provide Objectspace with annual funding to enable us to present an annual programme of activities. Through a programme of exhibitions, events, publications and partnerships Objectspace aims to create new opportunities for outstanding practitioners, generate critical discourse, support professional development, connect communities of makers, writers, collectors and supporters and advance the interests of the sector nationally and internationally.

3. Are other methods of showcasing and selling craft (such as online, craft fairs, markets, etc) complimentary to craft galleries or tapping into a different audience?

Form: In some cases these methods can be complimentary, but in some cases ie. online – a prospective client uses a ‘search engine’ to find a gallery and this can be a bit arbitrary. Also, online negates the need to touch hold and be in the presence of the work.
'Come for a Cuppa' exhbition at Form Gallery, Christchurch.

4. What makes a good craft gallery space, and what are your gallery’s future plans?

Form: Again, good quality knowledgeable staff, a good list of artist and work, a space that allows the work to be viewed, touched and allowed to breathe. Form gallery, based in Christchurch, is currently working from the Director’s (Koji Miyazaki) home (following the Christchurch earthquakes).

Objectspace: A commitment to contemporary craft, expert knowledge of the sector and a commitment to widening the awareness of contemporary practice through exhibitions and publications.

5. From your perspective, how has the New Zealand craft sector changed in the time that your gallery has been operational?

Form: In the last 2O yrs of its operation, Form has seen many ups & downs. The biggest shift to date, as you can expect, came from the huge event of February 2011, with the loss of life, and loss of our city. Christchurch is rebuilding, but it is going to take a lot of time, effort and money to rebuild the confidence in our clients to replace, or reinvest in our art objects.

Objectspace: Many younger practitioners don’t particularly identify with the ‘craft sector’ but label themselves by their disincline and/or as an artist.

6. What do we know about buyers and collectors of New Zealand craft?

Form: We have found that NZ collectors & buyers are very loyal. This loyalty is to the artist that they feel they need to patronize, but also to the gallery, its owner & staff who introduced them in the first place. Once a gallery has built up a solid relationship with their client, then loyalty – in another words – friendship, is created and must be upheld by both parties.

Objectspace: There are a smallish number of very dedicated and knowledgeable buyers of contemporary craft. Most collectors, but not all, tend to focus their collections on one practice area.

7. Do you have any words of advice for craft/object arts practitioners?

Form: Once a practitioner begins exhibiting with a gallery, a relationship is born. This is a symbiotic relationship with both parties needing each other – without one, the other becomes pointless. A balance, as well as a good professional relationship is needed for both parties to work together, respect what the gallery does, and they in turn will respect you. 

Objectspace: Keep going!

8. What can we look forward to in 2012 at your gallery?

Form: As stated previously, Form gallery is currently working from the home of Koji Miyazaki. It has been over a year now since our necessary removal from our home of eight years, the Christchurch Art Gallery. We have been in negotiation with property developers over the last several months to return to the city, but with the continued demolition of our city it is proving very hard to find a viable, suitable place. If anything in 2012, Form gallery is merely trying to survive, hold onto the great artists that we have on our books, keep our clients up to date with our progress and hold monthly group exhibitions to show Christchurch that there is still something to enjoy in this broken city. Kia kaha!

Objectspace: This week we are presenting 7UP: a free talkfest for all with a stake in New Zealand's craft sector. Next is Contemporary Pattern (30 June – 1 September 2012), a curated thematic exhibition exploring contemporary pattern across craft and design by New Zealand makers and designers. Objectspace will then present Kobi Bosshard: Objectspace Masters of Craft from 8 September – 17 November 2012, which will tour nationally. This exhibition will be accompanied by Kobi Bosshard: Goldsmith - a substantial monograph authored by Dr Damian Skinner and published and distributed by Bateman Publishers, featuring specially commissioned photographs by Mark Adams of Studio La Gonda. As well as these Main Gallery events, Objectspace will continue to exhibit solo installations by contemporary makers in the Window Gallery and groups of work from private collections in the Vault. At the end of the year, we are staging Blikfang curated by Sheridan Keith which will explore the ‘eye candy’ quality of new and old objects. This exhibition is another example of our ongoing interest in the ‘consumption’ of craft and applied art, rather than being an enquiry into an aspect of contemporary production.

Sunday 17 June 2012

Share your views & take our survey!

Craft Aotearoa is excited to launch New Zealand's first major craft research project that aims to identify how the wider public engages in craft as well as profiling the craft sector itself. We would like you to help us by sharing your thoughts via this survey link:

Craft Aotearoa intends to publish a report that profiles New Zealand craft and how the public engages in craft, fulfilling one of our key charitable objectives:

        (f) To undertake research into the craft sector and its profile in New Zealand and make the
        results available to inform business planning, education programmes and employment services;

The report will subsequently be made available to the public. To inform this report, we are seeking a broad range of views from members of the public who are interested in craft, craft practitioners, craft industry groups and organisations, online craft communities, craft galleries and retailers, craft researchers and publications, curators, and teachers and students engaged in craft practice.

Survey details
The consultation is open from 18 June - 19 August and is in three parts:

Part One - seeking the views of the wider public and those engaged in craft.
Part Two - developing a profile of those that design and make craft in New Zealand.
Part Three - craftsmanship skills and qualifications.

There are 25 questions (though not all may apply) including sub-questions for students and graduates, and  residents of Christchurch and Canterbury following the spate of recent earthquakes. The survey can be accessed at:

The Auckland public consultation meeting will be held this Thursday 21st June at 7:30pm, as part of Objectspace's 7UP Talkfest. We are delighted to support Objectspace in celebrating seven years of their operation. Throughout the week, there are a wide range of guest speakers and an exciting programme. Additional consultation meetings will take place in Dunedin (6th July), Wellington and Christchurch (to be confirmed).

What happens when the consultation ends?
Craft Aotearoa is in the process of founding a national reference group to inform and support the development of a report that contextualises the research results. This group will comprise representatives from a range of craft disciplines across New Zealand, to ensure a national overview and is a model of collaboration that has been successful internationally. For example, in 2008-2009 it was used in the development of The Craft Blueprint: a workforce development plan for craft in the UK.

It is anticipated that the final report will provide a platform for future projects that ultimately ensures the public has greater access to a broad range of craft activities throughout New Zealand.

What are the key outcomes resulting from this research project?

  • members of the public have an opportunity to share their thoughts on craft in New Zealand
  • statistical evidence is gathered 
  • a national craft database will be developed and managed by Craft Aotearoa
  • leadership across the New Zealand craft sector is strengthened
  • relationships are strengthened within the craft sector
  • increasing awareness of craft strengths and weaknesses at the present time
  • increasing awareness of how to engage the public in craft sector
  • a current profile of the New Zealand craft sector and how the public engage in craft is developed
What are the constraints of the research project?
Due to lack of funding the research will not seek to include any individual face to face or phone interviews, and only four public consultation meetings will be held to support the project in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin.

We have met with Statistics New Zealand who advise that as the data set for craft industries is too marginal to be of a good quality, it will not be possible to reference any government statistics pertaining to craft. (We think this makes this research project even more valuable.) 

Please help us to spread the word by:
 For any further enquiries please feel free to contact:
Jenna-Lea Philpott, Founding Trustee
Craft Aotearoa Charitable Trust
Phone: 022 615 3669

Wednesday 13 June 2012

'Like' our Facebook page to receive the latest craft news

On May 22nd, we launched our Facebook page! The content of our page reflects our vision - to create and promote opportunities for the New Zealand public to engage in a range of craft activities across a broad range of disciplines.
We regularly post New Zealand and international craft news and opportunities for the public to get involved and learn more about craft. Take a look and 'like' our page or 'share' it with your family and friends.  

  208 individuals and organisations like our page - find out why!

We are interested in posting content that stimulates, informs, provokes, engages, and educates. Occasionally we will let you know what we are up to but mostly we are interested in showcasing and supporting your craft activities. This might include upcoming craft workshops, conferences, events, markets, research, and publications, as well as resources and links that can inform and educate. We also want our page to be a place where you can connect with others and we welcome your ‘wall comments and links.’ You might like to look at our extensive range of craft and design organisations that we have ‘liked’ as well, both nationally and internationally.  

How can you get involved?

1.      ‘Like’ our page - then Craft Aotearoa updates will appear in your Facebook news tab meaning you will always be kept up to date and will also be a part of our journey as we grow and develop.

2.       Share what you read on our page with your friends and colleagues. You might want to encourage them to ‘like’ us too! We are starting from scratch, so your help in reaching those interested in craft will help us to build an audience and ensure that our content is relevant.  If you are a craft or arts organisation, you might like to support our work by promoting our page to your members via your e-newsletter, website, or direct email. Let us know so we can do the same for you too.

3.       We are in the process of building an online photo gallery of contemporary New Zealand craft and object art – if you would like your work to be considered for publication email us at
4.       Send us your craft news so we can let others know. Either email us direct, send a Facebook message, or post directly to our ‘wall.’

5.       If you have family or friends that like to buy or collect craft, or take craft classes, then you might like to forward them our page so they can learn more.
Thank you to all our supporters and over 200 'likers' so far – your contribution and feedback is invaluable. We look forward to seeing you on our Facebook page!

Friday 8 June 2012

Craft collectors interested in quality of ideas and of making.

Founding Craft Aotearoa trustee, Dr. Warren Feeney, is the also the new director of the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts, which was founded in 1882. With three galleries on the Wellington waterfront, the NZAFA is an easy two minute walk from the city's retailers making it the perfect lunchtime visit for busy workers. Regular exhibitions featuring new work from established and emerging artists throughout New Zealand are held in the Academy’s architectural award winning galleries. We asked Warren to share with us his thoughts on New Zealand craft including an insight into collectors of craft.

1. The gallery of the NZAFA has a long history of supporting craft and visual arts. What kind of support do you offer craft practitioners today?

There is a significant representation of jewellery and ceramics in the gallery’s exhibition programme – especially the four annual thematic members exhibition. In addition, the gallery space, Gallery One has a representation by members of the Academy working in jewellery (silver, jade), wood as well as ceramics. These are exhibited throughout the year.

2. It is great to see craft permanently displayed on the Wellington waterfront in the front of the NZAFA gallery. What kinds of objects can the public buy?  

As above – Jewellery and ceramics are key

Matariki Whenua - current exhibition
 3. Is there a typical craft collector/buyer profile?  

From my observation, serious craft collectors tend to be individuals with an interest in serious New Zealand art as well. They are interested in a quality of ideas and of making.

4. Craft Aotearoa recently found in an online poll that the majority of craft practitioners prefer to show and sell their work in a dedicated craft gallery space, as opposed to a public gallery, craft market or even online.  

That’s interesting and I imagine on one level it is about critical mass. That is, a centre for a specific form of art – its display and acquisition is going to attract an audience looking for that experience in one space. However, I would also imagine it is due to the shift in craft towards curation in galleries and the presence of dealer galleries specializing in craft. 

Matariki Whenua - current exhibition
5. How will the NZAFA be supporting New Zealand craft this year and beyond?  

The upcoming 'Kete' project is a key focus for the NZAFA looking towards the future. Located in Wellington, the gallery is in a hub of craft-based creative industries and centre for the arts and craft practice. I would like to see this grow over the next ten years into a unique craft event that reaches into the Pacific and Asian community. 

6. In another recent poll, Craft Aotearoa found that more than 90% believe there is a craft revival in New Zealand at present. Do you agree with this and if so, do you think the revival is here to stay or a passing trend?  

 I would suggest it is not so much a revival as a growing awareness. I still feel that the criticism leveled at craft in the 1980s by the fine arts community and art critics, accompanied by the demise of the Craft Council did serious damage to craft in New Zealand – and of course the deregulation of the economy and emergence of cheaply imported items from businesses like the Warehouse served to further and even more seriously diminish the status and value accorded to craft. Possibly it is not so much a revival as a new interest in something that hasn’t gone away. Potters, jewellers and ceramicists continued to make work regardless – they just didn’t get the kind of attention that they deserved and that was accorded to other art forms during the 1990s. 

Now showing:  

Matariki Whenua, an exhibition developed with support from Toi Maori Aotearoa and featuring the work of Baye Riddell, Colleen Urlich, Darcy Nicholas, Derek Lardelli, Diane Prince, Lewis Gardiner, Manos Nathan, Paerau Corneal, Rangi Kipa, Stacy Gordine, Wi Taepa, Brian Flintoff, Craig Potton, Jeanne Macaskill, Mike O’Donnell, and Russell Moses.

9 June-1 July 2012, 1 Queens Wharf, Wellington.

Friday 1 June 2012

A very crafty weekend at Te Papa

This blog comes to you live from Te Papa, Wellington where Handmade 2012 is taking place. I'm sitting in the very social Knit Lounge on level three where lots of women get to know each other better as they knit and share project ideas and stories. And to my amazement, the biggest pair of knitting needles I have ever seen (almost the same height as me!) are available for anyone to come and have a go. Now there is a challenge for the little ones!

Craft classes are taking place simultaneously. One room had lots of sewing machines being used with material being flung about and eager eyes taking in all the presenter was saying. Just before, an architect student commented on the lecture presentation this morning by Lucy Arnold from Felt, who talked about her ideas for craft in post-earthquakes Christchurch. Katy McRae commented that she enjoyed giving a workshop earlier today on 'Fabulous Felt Birds' and I hear that in the Princess Catherine Middleton era, workshops in lace making are pretty popular too.

Your Home & Garden are in support with a special subscription deal for HANDMADE 2012 attendees - if anyone wants to know how to make a beautiful paper pom poms this is THE place to be! They are busy showing people how to create beautiful pom poms from coloured tissue paper (very handy for special occassions) and I've watched grandparents and their grandchildren pop along to their busy table.Pink is still the most magical colour for little girls...

Tomorrow promises to be equally full of exciting classes. I'm fascinated by the 'Turkish Marbling Paper' and 'Bottle Cap Pin Cushion' workshops.

Must go now as about to deliver our presentation on The Role of Handmade Craft in the 21st Century.