Updates from Rosy Greenlees
20 July 2012
It may not feel much like summer, but it’s nearly August and nearly time for London 2012.
Striking Gold and the British Business Embassy
We’re delighted that we will be showcasing British contemporary craft through our latest online exhibition Striking Gold exploring the work and inspirations of makers David Watkins and Lin Cheung, designers of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games medals, through the Crafts Council Collection.
The Crafts Council has also curated the display of exceptional contemporary craft that will be seen by over 3000 UK and international business leaders at the British Business Embassy throughout the Games. This world-class creative showcase at Lancaster House, which will also include works from the Government Art Collection and loans from designers, was developed by UK Trade & Investment and will provide the context for a series of industry themed seminars promoting British business.
It was a pleasure to sit on the Creative Panel advising on the overall creative content of this significant event and to have the opportunity to showcase craft in this exciting context.
World Crafts Council Europe
Still on an international theme, we hosted the WCC Europe General Assembly in June, with 26 representatives from 13 countries gaining an insight into contemporary craft in the UK through visits to Central Saint Martins, the new Goldsmiths centre and Cockpit Studios alongside the AGM and a presentation on Craft in an Age of Change. Although the brevity of the Assembly meant that activities were confined to London, we took the opportunity to invite UK colleagues to join us at a celebratory dinner to mark the occasion. I am also very pleased to report that I was elected President of WCC Europe and am looking forward to working to make the organisation even more effective during my term.
Since the General Assembly, I have been in Mons for the opening of the European Applied Arts exhibition and prize organised by WCC-BF. The UK had a very good presence in the exhibition with 17 of 86 exhibitors. I am delighted that Bruno Romanelli was commended for his work under the Masters Prize and Hungarian jeweller Flora Vagi, an ex-RCA graduate, was selected for the WCC Europe Young Talent prize.
I continue to sit on the Skills Commission and Schools to Work roundtable, which has given me the opportunity to promote the lifelong skills and learning that children and young people can gain from making and to debate the importance of specialist courses in providing students with the relevant skills and expertise to pursue a career.
I also sit on the Craft Skills Award Advisory Group and it was a particular pleasure to see John Hayes’s letter regarding the Award in the current issue of Crafts magazine. As he says “It is through a celebration of craft both ancient and modern, that we can begin to bring the talents of head and hand back into harmony.”
British Design Summer Reception at the House of Lords
Along with other members of the Associate Parliamentary Design & Innovation Group (APDIG) we supported the first British Design Summer Reception at the House of Lords on 11 July, giving Chair Joanna Foster and me the opportunity to invite guests including maker trustee Peter Ting, ceramicist Michael Eden and artist/researcher Rhian Solomon to celebrate, in Parliament, the strength and importance to the UK of its design industries and to hear some excellent speeches from Lord Bichard and Sir John Sorrell.
The APDIG is an All-Party Parliamentary Group providing a forum for open debate between parliament and the UK’s design and innovation communities established in 1994 by a group of MPs and Peers led by Barry Sheerman MP. The reception also provided a useful opportunity to catch up with other co-sponsors including British Design Innovation (BDI), D&AD, Design Business Association, Design Council, Design Museum, and the Design and Technology Association (DTA). Read more about APDIG here and see a short film from the Reception here.
Craft in an Age of Change Workshops
We have now completed our series of workshops to discuss Craft in an Age of Change with the final two events taking place in Cambridge and Liverpool. Over 200 makers and others with a professional interest attended the workshops and I am grateful to my fellow panellists who included CraftNet members, Deirdre Figueiredo, Alison Plumridge and Izzy McDonald-Booth; makers Clare Twomey and Rebecca Gouldson, Andrew Proctor from Arts Council England, Ellen O’Hara from Cockpit Arts and independent curator Liz Cooper. We will be drawing together the key discussion points that emerged in the workshops and publishing these online later in the year. In the meantime, my thanks to all those who have contributed to the debate over the last few months.
We continued our series of public events co-hosted with CraftNet with an afternoon at Bovey Tracey devoted to the topic of Making Places: branding a craft town presented with CraftNet member Erica Steer of Devon Guild of Craftsmen and including presentations from Sue Clifford of Common Ground; Julia Twomlow, Director of the Leach Pottery; Dr Fiona Hackney from University College Falmouth; Peter Florence, Founder of The Hay Festival and Ruth Potts, co-author of the Clone Town Reports published by the New Economics Foundation. A lively discussion was followed by a very enjoyable evening visit to Bovey Tracey’s Contemporary Craft Festival. Our next event, co-hosted with Deirdre Figueiredo will take place early in the autumn.
Assemble 2012 – the Crafts Council Conference
We are now well-advanced with plans for Assemble 2012 on 20 September when we will be exploring the connections between contemporary craft and science, technology and manufacturing through presentations and case studies profiling current practice and craft’s importance to areas including bio-science and high-end manufacturing.
Confirmed speakers include keynote Marie O’Mahony, Professor of Advanced Textiles, OCADU and Visiting Professor at University of the Arts London, Julian Ellis OBE, Fellow of the Textiles Institute and honorary professor in the faculty of engineering at the University of Nottingham (and exhibitor in Power of Making) and Rhian Solomon, Director and founder of sKINship. There will also be filmed presentations from David Gauntlett, Professor of Media and Communications, University of Westminster and author of Making is Connecting and Professor Roger L Kneebone, Professor of Surgical Education, Imperial College London. Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries will be giving the government perspective.
Assemble 2012 will provide the perfect opportunity to gain an insight into these important and exciting areas at the cutting-edge of practice. Keep an eye on the website for the latest information on the programme and speakers and for your chance to put your questions to David Gauntlett.
OUT AND ABOUT
As a national organisation, our work constantly takes us across the country. In addition to the projects described above, we have been continuing our Collective programme for makers, working with the current cohorts of Hothouse, selecting for the new Injection programme and planning for the next Test Case; and celebrating the second year of Firing Up with events for pupils, parents, teachers and craft professionals in Sunderland, Manchester, Staffordshire and Bath.
Meanwhile Craft Club inspired the National Federation of Women’s Institutes to launch a brave assault on the record for the largest number of people knitting in one place at their AGM in the Royal Albert Hall where our Chair was delighted to add to the numbers. The results have been submitted to the relevant authorities and the verdict on the world record is awaited!
In amongst my policy and parliamentary meetings, it was a pleasure to attend a number of events presenting craft in a range of cultural contexts including a reception for Grayson Perry’s new tapestries at the Victoria Miro Gallery, the latest showcase of contemporary craft at 10 Downing Street, curated by Janice Blackburn, the Thomas Heatherwick exhibition at the V&A, the Goldsmiths Pavilion at Somerset House and the spectacular Gold exhibition at Goldsmiths Institute.
At this time of year it is always both pleasurable and instructive to attend the annual degree shows including RCA, Central St Martins and, of course, New Designers to see the new generation of talent emerging from the colleges.
Finally I must single out the event at the RCA commemorating the life and work of Emmanuel Cooper – a touching and fascinating review of just how much Emmanuel contributed as a writer, curator and teacher to the craft sector.
Colleagues attended some of the above events with me and also represented the Crafts Council at the recent Design Summit chaired by Lord Bichard, the Council for Higher Education in Art and Design’s seminar on the relationship between Art & Design and Business and Innovation within Higher Education and the Jerwood Makers Open private view.
Last, but certainly not least, Chair Joanna Foster opened the new exhibition at Contemporary Applied Arts, The Bolingbroke Hospital: A View Backwards which features work by Crafts Council maker trustee Shelly Goldsmith. You can read the excellent article on the exhibition in the current issue of Crafts – it paints a poignant picture and I recommend it strongly.
Looking ahead the next few months will see the launch of our next touring exhibition Added Value? at the London Design Festival alongside Assemble 2012 and, to single out one event in a busy diary, I will be contributing as a selector and speaker at European Glass Context 2012 in Bornholm, Denmark.
I wish you all a good summer.