Craft and the written word

Coilin O’Dubhghaill, Ceo 7, 2013

Coilin O’Dubhghaill, Ceo 7, 2013


March 10 2014

Having recently read numerous essays’ for an article I was researching on craft, I found myself focusing on a number of issues surrounding writing on craft. These included the arguments for a more academic approach, stemming from the perceived lack of theoretical discourse which, when applied to art, has provided the framework to transform it from object to concept. Consequently there is the notion that discussions on craft, focus only on material and process and the challenges of bringing an object into existence.  But does a focus on material and technique lessen the value of craft and undermine its soul? After all material is integral to craft and the field is both categorized and identified by it. In a quick review of recent essays in craft publications, websites and other media, the focus on material and process when writing on craft is apparent, but there is also description, biography and, in most cases, theoretical discourse. I could go on…

It was great therefore to hear writer Gemma Tipton’s thoughts on writing on craft, and indeed art, at the recent National Museum of Ireland seminar ‘Contemporary Craft: Curating, Collecting, Critical Writing”. They included the phrases ‘keep it simple’, ‘think about why you are writing’ and ‘think about who you are excluding’.

It reminded me to stop, aside the books and simply look at craft. Listen to what it has to say. For in the hands of a true master, the background noise starts to fade away and we begin to really understand what craft is all about and why we loved it so much in the first place. 


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Frances McDonald