Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Theorising a transformative agenda for craft

Theorising a transformative agenda for craft
By Matthew Kiem

Abstract: This paper examines the potential of craft to facilitate cultures of quality and social transformation in the interests of sustainability. This approach is theoretically grounded in the work of Tony Fry. It draws particularly on his concepts of sustain-ability and Sustainment to construct an argument for what is both valuable about craft as a practice of material fabrication, and what broader social goals craft practitioners might set themselves in recognition of this value. The transformative potential of craft is explored through David Harvey’s dialectical theory of social transformation.

This exploration of the potential of craft is also coupled with a recognition of current constraints within contemporary craft practices. In particular, the role of craft within practices of symbolic production and exchange is critiqued through the work of Jean Baudrillard and Pierre Bourdieu. Through these thinkers we observe how crafted artifacts are denied their sustaining potential and how craft practitioners themselves may become absorbed in facilitating the negation of craft as Sustainment. By way of conclusion it is proposed that in order to realise both the sustaining and transformative potential of craft, practitioners must develop a capacity for ongoing critical reflection that informs vocational commitment to change through craft practice. In this capacity, it is a call for practitioners to both recognise and engage with the political agency of craft as a way of fabricating new, and more sustainable modes of (human)being. Read Complete Paper

Abstract from  Theorising a transformative agenda for craft by Matthew Kiem 

Full paper published in craft + design enquiry; Issue 3, 2011, Sustainability in craft and design Edited by Kevin Murray 

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

From shell work to shell art: Koori women creating knowledge and value on the South Coast of NSW

From shell work to shell art: Koori women creating knowledge and value on the South Coast of NSW: By Daphne Nash

Esme Timbery, Harbour Bridge, 2006, shell, fabric and cardboard. 30x15x7cm. A similar work to her prize winning artwork of the same name. Photo Daphne Nash. craft+design enquiry journal

Daphne Nash completed her PhD in Interdisciplinary Cross-cultural Research at the Research School of Humanities, Australian National University in 2009. Her thesis is entitled ‘Transforming knowledge: Indigenous Knowledge and culture workers on the south coast of NSW’. Daphne has also worked as a teacher and more recently as a research consultant on educational resources relating to Indigenous cultural heritage.
Abstract: For many years the shell art of Aboriginal women on the South Coast of New South Wales has been an icon of Aboriginal people’s survival in that region. It is on the record since the 1880s that Koori women have made shell work objects to sell to tourists. This practice is undergoing a revival, and recognition of shell art is increasing particularly through the making of Sydney Harbour Bridges and miniature shoes. As the art work of Indigenous people, shell art is increasingly entering into the art market. When its cultural connections are understood, shell art is no longer dismissed as “tourist art”. What forces are operating and how does shell art mean? Read complete paper
Full paper published in craft + design enquiry; Issue 2, 2010 Cross cultural exchanges in craft and design

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Relational style: Craft as social identity in Australian fashion

Relational style: Craft as social identity in Australian fashion
by Jess Berry  
Women’s ensemble, 1980. Jenny Kee (designer), Jane Ayres (knitter), Flamingo Park, Sydney (manufacturer). From Free online craft+design enquiry Journal Issue 4

Abstract: Hierarchical schemas that devalue craft in relation to art and design practices are less prevalent within fashion discourse, as exquisite hand-craftsmanship continues to be inextricably linked to high fashion. This paper contends that the reciprocity between art, design and craft that occurs in fashion can be better understood if one considers examples outside the confines of Parisian couture. In particular, this paper focuses on the context of Australian dress, where the presence of visibly crafted elements is often associated with artistic mechanisms of critique.
The paper surveys examples of historic and current practice to argue that ‘craft’ has become a ‘style’ associated with art, and that this style can be seen as ‘relational’ in that it creates a social space of recognition. I will use the examples of Jenny Kee and Linda Jackson from the 1970s and 1980s and contemporary label Romance Was Born to establish the presence of ‘visible craft’ as a style within Australian fashion. Comparing these practices, I argue that, in Australian fashion, visible craft is an aesthetic form that produces shared social identities of humour, kitsch and larrikinism.Read Complete paper

Full paper published in craft + design enquiry; Issue 4, 2012 Relational Craft and Design

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Beyond the seas

Beyond the Seas
By Stephen Dixon

Stephen Dixon studied Fine Art at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and Ceramics at the Royal College of Art, graduating in 1986. His work features in numerous public and private collections, including the Museum of Arts & Design, New York, the British Council, the Crafts Council, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Royal Museum of Scotland, and the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco. He is currently employed as Professorial Research Fellow in Contemporary Crafts at MMU Cheshire, investigating the contemporary printed image in ceramics. Specific research interests include the British satirical tradition (in both printmaking and ceramics), commemorative wares and ‘pop’ culture, and the development of socio-political narratives in contemporary ceramics.

 This paper describes a practice-led research project undertaken in Australia in 2006, in which I sought to explore the relationship between radical changes in cultural/geographical environment and the production of unique forms of material culture. In this case the shift in environment was brought about by migration (enforced or otherwise) from the UK to colonial Australia, and the crafted artefacts of the colonial period (and after) were taken as representative of a particularly Australian material culture. As a maker it was important to me that this research was developed primarily through practice, supported by museum/archive study and fieldwork in Australia. The project therefore proposed a range of historical Australian artefacts as the subject of study, and my own creative practice as the vehicle of study. Read complete paper

 An example of re-located practice, Iron man, (enamelled tin plate). Found and re-worked on location in Adelaide, Australia, March 2006. 

Abstract of Beyond the seas, by Stephen Dixon
Full paper published in craft + design enquiry; Issue 1, 2009 Migratory Practices