Deadline: Wednesday 20 June 2018, 5pm
Fee: fixed fee of £2,000
Project start and completion date: June to October 2018
With the generous assistance of The Goldsmiths’ Company, and in association with the National Maritime Museum’s ‘Gilding the Gingerbread’ project, the Heritage Crafts Association wish to contract a freelance project manager to oversee the creation of a documentary film about gilding, a craft categorised as endangered by The Red List of Endangered Crafts.
The film will feature a master gilder training one or more ‘apprentices’, who will ideally have some existing knowledge of the craft, in a practical workshop setting. The second phase of the project will involve delivering a learning programme of courses and/or workshops to further disseminate the skills transmitted in the film.
Click here to download the brief and application instructions
Photo: by Better Letters, reproduced under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic license (CC BY-NC 2.0).
The University of Lincoln has developed a new system to use virtual reality technology to train young blacksmiths, saying that it wants to get more people involved in trades that are in danger of disappearing. Using their virtual blacksmith’s forge, users can experience the basic principles behind blacksmithing, and the hope is that young people might go on to take it up for real.
Click on the video below to play (UK only)
Eventually the university hopes to develop a virtual village that will allow users to experience a whole range of traditional crafts, and even receive one-to-one training from experts all over the world. The Heritage Crafts Alliance (set up in North Yorkshire in 2011 to focus on building crafts, and not to be confused with us) are quoted in the Look North report as supporting the project.
Heritage crafts need to embrace technology and new sections of society if they are to survive and this development look very interesting, though for me the sensation of actually being present in the environment and the interaction with the materials are vital factors in the lure of heritage crafts, and it will be a long time before technology can replicate this. If this is to become a teaching tool, is it even possible to convey the types of tacit knowledge that make up these craft skills without these sensuous factors present?
We are approaching a very important centenary in the art world, the creation of Marcel Duchamp’s ‘fountain’, arguably the most important work of art of the 20th century. Was he taking the piss? and why should craftspeople have any interest in it?
The point of fountain was that Duchamp was arguing that aesthetics and skill were not what made art, it was the artists idea that mattered.
Under the guise of an assumed name R Mutt, Duchamp submitted a porcelain urinal as an entry for an open exhibition in New York in 1917. With this work Duchamp metaphorically urinated on the bourgeois art institution and its adoration of what he referred to disparagingly as ‘retinal art’. ‘Fountain‘ was “misplaced” for the duration of the exhibition and lost soon afterward yet years later it achieved seminal status. It was not the worlds first ready-made, Duchamp showed “bicycle wheel” in 1913 but it is fountain that became iconic.
So what is the relevance today? Well trace Duchamp ideas forward 100 years and we see a century of art where skill and aesthetics were not seen as important and where ready-mades and installation art were where it was at. That century is coming to an end and personally I feel that the current art world is as self obsessed and out of touch as the one which Duchamp so successfully took the piss out of 100 years ago. Frankly there is only so much navel gazing and exposing to public view the least pleasant aspects of your past that the public want to see and after a while does it have any relevance or serious message?
So who will be the new Duchamp? Who will challenge the current ideas of where artistic merit lies? And where will that merit be found? Personally I fancy we will see a return to or perhaps some new form of appreciation of aesthetics and skill. I think we will again appreciate an artist who can create something of great beauty more than one who presents ready-mades or installations with some art speak justification. Why will this happen? Well in part what we have always admired and valued throughout history has been rarity and today there are not many folk that can grind pigments, mix oils and paint a decent picture, nor carve a stone for a cathedral window, nor make a basket, nor forge a gate hinge, yet conceptual art is taught to tens of thousands of university graduates every year.
Satchi et al have huge vested interest in maintaining the artistic status quo and will rubbish any suggestion that these things have as much merit as Emin’s latest but I genuinely feel they have more to say of importance to today’s world than most conceptual art. They comment on how we make the stuff of everyday life, on working conditions and waste and sustainability. It will be a few years coming but my prediction is that we are approaching the time when someone who makes humble functional craftwork will be valued as much as someone who makes art installations. And the funny thing is that I reckon if Duschamp was around today he would be rebelling against today’s art institution as much as he did in 1917.
How do we raise the status of studying artistic rather than pure academic subjects? There has been much discussion recently about how society values academic vs tacit knowledge, skills minister John Hayes said “In my view, the skills of a bricklayer are in no way less admirable and certainly no less hard-won than those of a stockbroker. Matt Crawford’s book ‘The case for working with your hands’ made a similar case but how do we convince parents and bright kids that a career in the arts, crafts or trades is a viable choice and not something for academic low achievers?
I just came across this wonderful witty ad campaign for the College for Creative Studies in Detroit mimicking anti drugs campaigns. Entertaining and makes the point but does it reinforce the image, challenge it or change it?
Talk to your kids about art school
Information / Credits
1 in 5 teenagers will experiment with art. Talk to your kids about art school.
Advertising Agency: Team Detroit, Dearborn, MI USA Chief Creative Officer: Toby Barlow Creative Director: Gary Pascoe Art Director: Vic Quattrin Copywriter: Joel Wescott Published: October, 2011
Until the 1960’s many wooden ladders were made in the UK, one of the largest makers being John Ward and Son Ladder Makers, where Stanley learnt his craft. Overnight with the introduction of aluminium ladders the wooden ladder making trade died. There was demand for the wooden type but it was cheaper for these customers to purchase in the second hand market – a supply that was plentiful with so many users converting to aluminium.
Fifty years later there is still demand for wooden ladders, from historic buildings, open air museums and heritage craftspeople such as thatchers. However, the supply has now dried up as the old ones reach the end of their lifespan and no new ones have been made. The issue was highlighted last year when BBC TV wished to film a ladder maker for their Edwardian Farm program but none were to be found. At the time we launched this appeal, we knew of no practising ladder makers in the UK (but read more below).
But, the knowledge and experience still remains with at least one man, and he is willing to help. In 2014 HCA will organise a two day workshop so Stanley can pass on his skills to professional woodworkers. The workshop will be filmed and an instructional film produced so that these rare skills can be disseminated further via the internet. Stanley has also produced a series of paintings and written on the subject which we would publish to further preserve the craft for the future.
We are aware of other crafts which need support, and welcome donations to continue this work.