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Home // News & Features // Creative clusters and the evolution of knowledge and skills: from industrial to creative glassmaking

Creative clusters and the evolution of knowledge and skills: from industrial to creative glassmaking

Lauren England

During my MA at King’s and in the year before starting my PhD I worked with my supervisor Dr Roberta Comunian on some research on craft in post-industrial regions in the UK. We were interested in particular in the development of creative clusters and new economic and creative systems. From this research we produced several publications, one of which is due to be published in a special issue of the journal Geoforum. You can read a summary of this article on the Crafts Council website and the full version here.

While this article focuses on glassmaking, the relationship between industrial and post-industrial knowledge and the evolution of skills can also be observed in other craft disciplines such as ceramics and jewellery. Following the trajectory of glassmaking in Sunderland and Stourbridge we explore how local industrial knowledge was reorganised into new craft-based glassmaking through processes of deskilling, reskilling and upskilling. We also highlight the role of industrial legacies, institutions, networks and policies in preserving and evolving local knowledge, and attracting new creative talent.

From this perspective we call for greater understanding of the resilience of these skills across the craft sector. Further investigation into the role of institutions and policies, including industrial, regeneration, and education strategies are also needed to effectively preserve and transfer knowledge in post-industrial clusters and support the sustainable development of new craft-based production in the creative economy.

My PhD research also includes universities in two post-industrial cities (Sunderland and Stoke on Trent). In this context I am interested to explore the role of location in relation to the provision of craft education and graduate practice, particularly links with local industry, local infrastructure and network support for makers.

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