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Skills minister calls for new arts and crafts movement

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default Skills minister calls for new arts and crafts movement

Post by Robin Wood on 28th October 2010, 8:17 am

http://www.heritagecrafts.org.uk/news.html

Minister for skills and FE John Hayes speech at the RSA he is a fan of crafts.

"In my view, the skills of a bricklayer are in no way less admirable and certainly no less hard-won than those of a stockbroker.

When we look at something beautiful, it’s not just the object that we admire, but the skill that went into producing it. That’s why The Fighting Temeraire will always have more admirers than Marcel Duchamp’s urinal.

My point is that admiration for skill, even when it doesn’t involve production of an object, is an integral part of our culture."

"Even a depressive and tubercular D H Lawrence found respite from contemplating man’s alienation from the modern world by applying practical skills. He once noted that:

“I got the blues thinking of the future, so I left off and made some marmalade. It's amazing how it cheers one up to shred oranges and scrub the floor”." I had read Hayes is a fan of jam making.

"I look back to the Englishmen who first raised the standard of craft skill as a force in the modern world - to Morris and Ruskin, Rossetti and Burne-Jones – and I think it’s high time to create a new aesthetics of craft, indeed, a new Arts and Crafts movement, for Britain in the 21st century.

That won’t be done overnight. But I can announce today that we are making a start.

I am considering backing high quality in the craft traditions by lending the Government's support to a new award for excellence in the crafts. Details are at an early stage, but I think it is right that excellence should be rewarded and the Government will work over the next few months with those working to support the crafts, including the various charities under the Patronage of His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, to encourage and reward excellence in this area."

"I don’t wish to idealise manual labour but to understand its intrinsic worth.

The village blacksmith did not develop arms like iron bands by reading about how hard it is to swing a hammer in a book.

The price of the potter’s ability to throw a vase in one go was long hours of effort followed by failure, and several hundredweight of clay in the bin."

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default Re: Skills minister calls for new arts and crafts movement

Post by Compostwoman on 28th October 2010, 12:05 pm

Sounds really good, I though last night when I read the write up of what sounds like a good event.

Just hope he can put some money where his mouth is....

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default Re: Skills minister calls for new arts and crafts movement

Post by Dandelion on 28th October 2010, 4:50 pm

Reading this has made me react quite strongly. I am very much in favour of the value of the crafts and also manual work being recognised, but perhaps instead of /as well as creating an award, the government could make it easier for young people to get apprenticeships. This could range from the bricklaying which was mentioned, through other skills we all benefit from such as hairdressing and plumbing, to building restoration. Education also needs to go through a sea-change so that those whose skills are not logical or linguistic get a decent education. (Howard Gardner identified eight types of intelligence. Our current education system really only focuses on half or less of these.)

As to the Fighting Temeraire versus Ducamp's urinal - Ducamp himself said that the point of exhibiting this piece was to move art away from physical craft to intellectual interpretation, so he never intended the public to admire its workmanship! It could also be argued that a group of art students would find the urinal (or fountain) more interesting while a group of older people would prefer Turner's work.

What concerns me about the thought of an award for excellence is that it might focus on the aspect of the craft world which is big money, and excludes ordinary people. It's the tension between precious. valuable objects which can be aspirational, but which only the super-rich can afford.

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The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers and sisters.

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default Re: Skills minister calls for new arts and crafts movement

Post by Adrian on 28th October 2010, 9:31 pm

Dandelion wrote:
What concerns me about the thought of an award for excellence is that it might focus on the aspect of the craft world which is big money, and excludes ordinary people. It's the tension between precious. valuable objects which can be aspirational, but which only the super-rich can afford.

Odd you should say that, I was thinking exactly the same thing. I couldn't help be reminded of the Mastercrafts weaving episode and the snooty judges at the end.

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default Re: Skills minister calls for new arts and crafts movement

Post by Robin Wood on 31st October 2010, 3:35 pm

I read the ministers comments differently but then I am an optimist. I see a genuine appreciation of ordinary handwork. The books he quotes Sennett and Crawford are anything but high end "craft as art". The full speech gives more detail than the quotes I lifted and is worth a read.

http://www.bis.gov.uk/news/speeches/john-hayes-skills-and-their-place

or you can listen to it here
http://www.thersa.org/events/audio-and-past-events/2010/the-craft-so-long-to-lerne-skills-and-their-place-in-modern-britain

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default Re: Skills minister calls for new arts and crafts movement

Post by budburst12 on 31st October 2010, 7:41 pm

This sounds really great, and yeah - I like to take an optimistic viewpoint on this - it's so lovely to hear a politician bigging up craft and looking for ways to encourage society to value skilled workmanship instead of throwaway cheap rubbish. I've got to say that I think it's a good idea to run the award scheme - even if it supports people making high quality stuff that is expensive to buy. I don't know about you guys, but I'd rather save my money and buy a few items that are really good quality, won't break quickly and support local crafts people than spend it on loads of cheap stuff made in a factory where the profits fall into the hands of large multinational companies and the people working on the production lines live a miserable existence and make a pitance (believe me, I've been there and done that while a student and seeing how this stuff is made really puts you off buying it!).

And I love that a politician is at last recognising that we need to value skills, not just academic educations! Hooray! Let's hope he makes a difference in this direction!
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default Re: Skills minister calls for new arts and crafts movement

Post by Guest on 6th November 2010, 11:52 am

Sounds good but we basically find a huge difference between "craftman/artisan" and "artist".

The craftman/artisan can only charge for his products at about 10 euros/pounds an hour. To make more than this you have to (pretend) it's something special/artistic. We look at a lot of the woodwork and furniture sold at high prices in the UK and feel very sad.

I wish people would support and use the local craftsman, encouraging their work as to have constant work means you can live on a low income. Occasional low income means you have to find other work which reduces the amount of time you can practice and perfect your craft.

So for me the governments' actions are irrelevent. It is what we do that matters.

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