The many colours of craft

Ptolemy Mann, Blue Green Pair 

Ptolemy Mann, Blue Green Pair 


March 23 2015

Undoubtedly opinions around crafts’ place in the wider art world are changing. Perceptions are being challenged and there is an increasing appreciation for the work of contemporary artists who embrace a craft aesthetic.

However I was interested to read a feature on the accomplished textile artist Ptolemy Mann in the current issue of Crafts magazine. Mann, whose beautiful panels of richly coloured textile have featured in exhibitions such as Modern Makers in Chatsworth in 2013, was commenting on the difficulties facing contemporary textile artists. ‘Craft is fashionable now and there are lots of galleries championing craft furniture, but textiles continues to be ignored’ she writes. ‘They enjoyed a brief moment of importance during the Bauhaus but I can’t think of a single contemporary textile artist who is taken seriously.’

Her comments, while depressing to hear, made me wonder about the status of textiles in the wider craft world. Is there a hierarchy of acceptance within craft itself with disciplines such as ceramics and furniture gaining greater understanding and recognition in the art world while areas such as textiles languish behind? If so, what is holding textile art back? Is it seen by galleries as being less ‘commercial’ than other disciplines and therefore not worth the investment in those who are create this work? Are there gender issues? This is definitely a subject worth returning to in the future.


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Frances McDonald