Crafting Futures

Workshop 2: Crafting Futures

‘Crafting Futures’ took place at the Art Workers Guild, Bloomsbury, London on the 15th and 16th June 2011. Founded originally by the leading lights of the Arts and Crafts movement in the 1890s, the Guild is a society of artists, craftsmen and designers with a common interest in the interaction, development and distribution of creative skills. You can read more about the Art Worker’s Guild here.

About ‘Crafting Futures’

The  ‘Crafting Futures’ workshop addressed the future development of craft communities, and the role of craft values and characteristics within the social, cultural, economic and political futures of other communities. The workshop considered three key themes to address the intersections between the politics and practice of craft in relation to communities, technologies and economies. These themes were:

Theme 1: The politics and ethics of ‘crafting futures’

This theme returns to the question of how we might engage with the values and  legacies of craft practice as we forge new pathways. The workshop explore thed role that craft practice and craft research currently plays in social transformation, economic regeneration through micro-economies, and the emancipation of those in need. Having addressed issues of ‘craftivism’ in the first workshop, we built on these discussions by considering the politics that underscore the activities of craft makers and researchers both within their individual practices and in their social engagement with community work within museums, universities, cultural agencies, healthcare and wellbeing.

Theme 2: Crafting community prosperity

The second theme of the workshop addressed the diverse ways in which contemporary craft practice is enrolled to enhance the prosperity of communities. Whether aiming to increase wealth or improve wellbeing, craft has emerged in projects that employ the archives or practices of designer-makers in community regeneration and engagement projects. We discussed the roles that institutions (whether museums, FE/HE, craft agencies etc.) and practitioners play in enhancing the prosperity of communities, for example through interventions in building and environment design, in establishing community enterprise and developing of craft based businesses.

Theme 3: Crafting Digital Futures

This theme showcased current projects that connect craft and digital technologies, combining the traditional with the innovative and forging new contexts for craft practice and values within enterprise, education, healthcare, and wellbeing. Digital technologies can be identified as relevant to the politics and ethics of crafting futures as well as to developments in crafting community prosperity. However, an apparent emphasis on speed and the dislocation of the hand from physical materiality, raise questions about the relevance of digital skills for craft makers. This theme will focus on the role of digital technologies in forging new relevance for craft practices within a broader set of communities. Digital technologies are often identified as having the capability to reverse the usual economies of scale and to dismantle traditional supply chains. indeed, McCullough (1996 p.179) argues that flexible ‘post-industrial’ digital production systems are more closely associated with small scale or even home-based craft practices. In this context the emergence of affordable digital manufacturing tools and the dominance of digital media, in particular the development of Web 2.0, provide the potential for a new era of customisation and responsive localised production.

This workshop consisted of a series of presentations and reflections on these themes. You can read more about the speakers and listen to their talks for free here.


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