Tuesday, 6 March 2012

"Craft can be taught, it's the poetry that can't be......

......but these days they try to teach the poetry and forget to teach the craft", says David Hockney, Britain's greatest living artist in a BBC documentary.  David Hockney, also paraphrases the chinese saying; "painting is an old man's art", making the point that painting is essentially a skill, like any other, that is learned and takes practice to be any good at.  He uses the words craft and craftsmanship to describe his practice as a painter, for which he is internationally celebrated.  This all got me thinking about the idea of craft and the skill of the hand.  And the assumed idea in Britain of craft as being twee and dowdy, instead of one of a kind, skilled hand-working and a dedication to quality, which has long been over ridden in preference to mass production d'objets.  Unlike in the US, where Etsy is well known as a craft marketplace, it still doesn't, I don't think share the same visibility in the UK.   But with the use of the word "craft" from this revered elder statesman, the term craft may be lifted.  And the following report and statistics might also buoy up activities:

"This month the Crafts Council, Creative Scotland, Arts Council of Wales and Craft Northern Ireland released a comprehensive survey of more than 2,000 makers, retailers, educators, writers and curators, which has confirmed the strong position of craft industries. The £457m generated by craft compares well with an income of £512m from London's theatreland, and an income of £316m from music downloads in 2010.

The combined Gross Value Added of craft – in other words, how much more the raw materials are worth once they are finished products – is £220m. Most of those involved in the craft business in Britain work independently...." The Observer 26.02.12

I would encourage you to take a look at and try to buy handmade or independent, when you can.  Sometimes it is not as convenient - but online availability to some respects now makes this a more level playing field, so take a look at Etsy and see what's being made in the UK and around the world by independent creative sparks! And admire the craft alongside the poetry........

Thanks for paying attention : )


  1. Nice commentary, thanks for bringing this to the forefront! Go Handmade/Independent!

  2. Three cheers for indie businesses! I didn't know it wasn't as popular in the UK, but hopefully this will help spread the word.

  3. I totally agree with you on that one, we have a bit of an image issue here in the UK that handmade is just like Gran's stuff.