Saturday, 17 March 2012

'To see far is one thing, to get there is another' - Brancusi

I have economic and statistical proof that craft and more specifically Ceramics is-a-changing I just read Rosy Greenlees article on the Huffpost website and she raised some interesting points regarding changes that are effecting ceramics and all of humanity at this moment, as I sit here typing it goes on changing outside my window here on this rainy day and all over the world. It will never stop.
Greenless's article is based on the Crafts Council report Craft in an Age of Change. In the introduction it relates a future 'where hand made might be seen as de-facto requirement'. Are we operating in a business that has no place in the technological age? Is the fact that people who desire to make enough to validate our existence, even if we aren't strictly needed.
Or could it be that we are moving into a space that requires a different definition. Oscar Wilde said 'All art is quite useless'. Even if we are making functional items, it doesn't mean they are a necessity, they could be luxury items that are beyond necessity and move into the realm of luxury and decadence. In the report it states
'if technologies such as 3D printing become ubiquitous, and it becomes possible to make distinctive items at the touch of a button, what does that imply for the whole of craft? Will the boundaries between  craft, fine art and design blur still further as a result? Is such a change a threat to the identity of craft or an opportunity for exchanging ideas across artistis and wider agendas?'

70% of makers do not export their wares, and many are focussed on local trade as a way forward for ceramics and craft. This approach could be shutting off opportunities for better sales and a wider reach. Given that growth is occurring in the East and things are pretty slow here, it is essential that makers start to export. BUT buying hand made tactile items often requires a thorough handling and examination, marketing would have to incredibly well photographed and descriptive language should be used in order to attempt to secure to a sale to a new buyer over the WWW. 

Technology is changing the way we buy, sell and make. New markets are opening up all over the world, particularly in the East. More and more sales are taking place over the internet rather than at craft fairs and shows. Globalisation and competition will mean that the emphasis will be on skills, knowledge, originality and aesthetics. However the waning economy means that people are not making big buys. If all we have to fall back on is quality, authenticity and truth to materials we will need to up the game in order to survive. There does seem to be a natural place fro the hand made in the market, however my feeling is that it will need a helping hand to compete in this world of global marketing, multinationals and cheaply produced products. The tiny sole trader has to find a way to make their voice heard amongst all these giants. The only people that will help us is ourselves. 

I feel like I am being quite negative about the current state of affairs. But we are in turbulent times unless there is recognition of the situation nothing will be done. I am very keen to further open the discourse on this. I have generated a lot of response through my blog with over 6000 visitors. I would really like to encourage people to take part in the debate and offer solutions and ways forward. I am considering creating a body of work that responds to the situation. But then if it had an agenda and a concept behind it, would it then be art?

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