On the second day of Crafting Communities, some workshop participants gave short talks that reflected back on the themes of the workshop. This page contains summaries of all of those talks. You can also listen to the audio of each of the presentations below.
Katy talks about current Crafts Council participatory projects including: The Craft Action Network, which is concerned with craft education at all levels, The Craft Club for schools, and Firing Up, which is a programme designed partly in response to the closures of ceramic courses in the UK. Katy discusses the value of craft as a process of engagement and highlights some of the difficulties this raises in exhibiting finished work in gallery contexts.
Listen: Katy Bevan, Crafts Council
Jamie Chalmers, Mr X Stitch
With a current count of 20-25,000 visitors per month to his website, Jamie describes the way in which the internet has the capacity to bring together isolated embroiderers working on small projects to create a significant community capable of challenging the mainstream. Through this exchange ideas are spread and the traditional and the contemporary are often ‘mashed’ together. This new online community gives value and credibility to the work of individuals who would otherwise be overlooked. Alongside his passion for Flickr, Jamie is keen to promote a continued connection to the real world including membership of traditional guilds and exhibitions of cutting edge work within mainstream events.
Listen: Jamie Chalmers, Mr X Stitch
Amy presents a project she undertook as an artist in residence in Knowle West in Bristol, UK where archive photographs of shoemaking in the area inspired her to develop a series of animated works that connect these images to existing places and living people.
Listen: Amy Houghton
Through an ACE funded report on DIY Culture in the UK published in 2006, Sally has developed a particular interest in craft and digital technology. Working collaboratively with Betsy Greer and Inga Hamilton, she is now developing a project funded by the Cornerhouse Gallery in Manchester that invites makers from all over the world to create QR (Quick Response) codes in textile media.
Listen: Sally Fort
Lauren describes the way knitting community Stitch London was founded. She describes how sharing her positive experience of learning to knit as a therapy for cancer treatment with others has grown into a community of 10,000 people. They meet and share skills in public places throughout London. She highlights significant projects with the Science Museum and the Battersea Cats and Dogs home where knitting is used to develop wider public engagement, participation and interest.
Listen: Lauren O’Farrell, Stitch London
Deirdre reflects on her role as Artist in Residence in a number of places across the globe. The Fish Exchange project she initiated in Shetland in 2007 involved participants in knitting and auctioning herring in live and online markets and has spread virally across the globe. Regional variations have emerged in Finland, Cork, Scarborough, Helmsdale, and other parts of Scotland with lacey mackerel and crocheted cod. Through her involvement with Ebay and online social networking, Deirdre is interested in the use of crowd sourcing and micro-financing to support community projects.
Listen: Deirdre Nelson
Sue Pritchard V&A
Sue Pritchard shares her experience of working with Fine Cell on a V&A commission. Fine Cell work with inmates in the UK prisons system to teach needlework skills and pay prisoners a percentage from sales of objects they have made. The collaboration contributed to a V&A exhibition that explores 300 years of British Quilt making. The commission was inspired by the discovery of a quilt made by women during transportation to the New World created through Elisabeth Fry’s reform movement. Sue describes working with a very mixed community of men and issues arising from their range of attitudes and pre-occupations in creating a depiction of prison life.
Listen: Sue Pritchard, V&A
Hannah Maughan Robb
Listen: Hannah Maughan Robb
Hannah presents recent developments in her work. Over time Hannah has collected incomplete cross-stitch kits from charity shops. Through the completion of incomplete works, through physically engaging with the fabric, Hannah shares a personal connection with previous stitchers and allows her imagination to bring them to life. Hannah is considering a project that involves a number of craft makers in completing her collection of kits and exhibiting the results.
David talks about his Sampler Culture Clash project which combines the cultures of music and embroidery sampling and celebrates the productivity of difference. The project involves building a community through which new work is created collectively and given away: consciously working against copyright law and it’s financial imperatives and to explore the concept of gifting as the heart of a community.
Listen: David Littler
Rachael talks about Prick Your Finger. Prick Your Finger is a textile art collective, online yarn shop and resourse space/gallery in Bethnal Green. Rachael describes the unique mix of amateur and professional, commercial and educational, urban and rural, local and global community activities that revolve around spinning and knitting and that find their home in this Brick Lane shop.
Listen: Rachael Matthews
Simon describes how the DIY arts movement has empowered his own comic book practice. He connects this approach to craft practices. He raises a set of questions, designed to connect the emerging themes of the workshop. He asks: How do you make a community that empowers craft practitioners to go out into the community to develop community networks? How do you market the process of making in a way that is valuable for lots of people? Projects presented so far have largely focused on socially and economically excluded groups. What about those excluded for other reasons?
Listen: Simon Moreton