This page contains details about all the talks given on day one of Crafting Communities. This page includes speaker biographies, summaries of their talks and audio files of all the presentations.
Keynote: “Making is Connecting” David Gauntlett
David Gauntlett is Professor of Media and Communications at University of Westminster. His latest book Making is Connecting: the social meaning of creativity, from DIY and knitting to YouTube and Web 2.0 (Polity, 2011) explores the potency of everyday creativity and its importance for a healthy, happy, vital and productive society. David’s talk traces a continuum from arts and crafts practice from the writings of John Ruskin, William Morris and Ivan Illich, through to the digital age of blogging, social networks and making videos for YouTube. He suggests that engaging with Web 2.0 technologies is an example of ‘everyday creativity’ that helps bring people together to make and innovate. Gauntlett suggests three definitive motivations for making and everyday creativity: pleasure and an enhanced sense of self as creative agent; feeling alive in the world through the ability to do things as an active participant engaged in dialogue with a community; recognition by like-minded people.
Matthew Partington is Research Fellow at the University of the West of England (UWE) and at the Victoria & Albert Museum. In this talk, David shares his thoughts on current changes within higher education and the craft world. He suggests that while the amateur connotations of crafting have tended to be viewed pejoratively by the crafts mainstream, crafting can also bring a refreshing focus on the value of communality and fun in making; an invaluable corrective to the craft world’s tendency to take itself too seriously. As the crafts change or disappear from higher education, they surface elsewhere, inside and outside the academy. Re-imagined, re-considered or re-valued, the crafts are more alive than ever, thriving in both alternative and conventional spaces and guises, on and offline.
Betsy is a writer, researcher and maker currently living in the Washington DC area. While her work is mainly based on craftivism it also includes therapeutic creativity, community, resistance craft and war. In November 2008, her first book, Knitting For Good! was published by Shambhala. The book is a guide to how to use your knitting and creativity to improve your life, the lives of those in your community and the world at large. It’s also about life and its surprises. Betsy’s talk covers a range of examples of craftivism. Craftivism, a contraction of ‘craft’ and ‘activism’, deals with the use of craft techniques and ideals to enact political protest. She discusses projects from London to Afghanistan and across the globe. She discusses the challenges involved in crafting protest, and the different groups of people whose voices need to be heard.
Listen: Betsy Greer
Deirdre Figueiredo is the Director of Craftspace. Craftspace is a crafts development organisation based in Birmingham. In her talk, Deirdre presented two case studies that exemplify Craftspace’s approach to supporting craft and community, ‘Time in Print’ and ‘The Meetings of Hands and Hearts’.
Time in Print: a partnership between the National Trust’s ‘Whose Story?’ initiative, Craftspace, the West Midlands Caribbean Parents and Friends Association and designer Linda Florence. The project was part of the ‘Taking Time: Craft and the Slow Revolution’ exhibition. It encouraged people to discover something new about their locality, consider the value of the handmade in a world driven by consumption and digital technologies, celebrate their own tacit knowledge, learn new skills, and collaborate socially and creatively. Workshops were run in the arts and crafts interiors of Wightwick Manor and at Wolverhampton University. Participants developed and printed wallpaper designs inspired by how patterns are borrowed and change over time through cross-cultural interpretation. The project demonstrates how craft can bring together people of different ages to work creatively in an unfamiliar context, and foster skills and confidence. You can read more about this project here.
The Meeting of Hands and Hearts, Making Links, Routes to Revolution: this project describes a seven year journey of engagement that moves from crafts as a means to explore individual and collective identity to craft as a form of social enterprise. It began with a number of action research projects and exhibitions exploring self through jewellery, photography and film. Artists worked with women from the Community Integration Partnership (CIP), a drop-in support centre for women who have recently settled in the city.
Listen: Deirdre Figueiredo, CraftSpace
Dr. Joanne Turney is Senior Lecturer in the History and Theory of Design at Bath School of Art and Design where she specializes in textiles and fashion as material culture. Joanne’s talk considers knitting as a form of therapy, spiritual nourishment and mindfulness. Turney explains how the recuperative aspects of knitting derive from the natural rhythm of stitching. Knitting, moreover, affords satisfactions that are often absent in the wider world, providing opportunities to carve out a creative and contemplative space. She suggests that in an ever-more fragmented world defined by placelessness and confusion, the wholesomeness of ethical activities such as recycling, eating organic or knitting provide a reassuring sense of safety and wholeness.