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  • A Willow for Ai Weiwei, Wen Tao, Lin Zhenggang, Zhang Jinsong, Hu Mingfen (Scott’s Cumbrian Blues series), Paul Scott, 2012. Crafts Council Collection 2013.5. Photo: Nick Moss

Hidden Agenda

Exploring the use of craft for social comment and provocation

Hidden Agenda: Socially Conscious Craft is a partnership exhibtion with Berwick Visual Arts and curated by Doug Jones. It presents works by makers and designers who use craft for social comment and provocation.

Generation by Doug Jones, the curator of the exhibition, comprises 54 pairs of cast chicken feet individually finished by Jones and a team of workers in a bronze foundry in southern China and explores several social aspects linked to its production, including the concept of fair trade and ethics in manufacturing and the correct sourcing and processing of materials, while respecting the tradition and authenticity of the craft employed.

In response to Jones’s politically and socially driven installation, 11 objects from the Crafts Council Collection have been selected. The pieces introduce socio-political subjects; covering societal injustice, subversion, propa­ganda, remembrance, monetary value and economy in materials and production methods.

These include - Hundreds and Thousands a neckpiece by jewellery maker Angela O’Kelly formed from circular cut-outs from the Financial Times which have been meticulously strung together. The use of paper, a non-precious material, emphasises the importance of workmanship and imagination over the mere value of materials. Hidden Agenda also includes Grayson Perry's ceramic pot Mad Kid’s Bedroom Wall, a glazed and embossed ceramic vessel depicting a teenager’s bedroom. The multiple and conflicting layers of imagery evoke a sense of menace, telling the story of an adolescent boy in isolation.

Generation (detail), Doug Jones, 2013. Image courtesy of the artist

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