Tradition: past and present

Caroline Schofield, Muninn, 2014

Caroline Schofield, Muninn, 2014


April 15 2014

In viewing ‘Interlace’ recently at the National Craft Gallery, I began to consider the word ‘tradition’. Writing in the accompanying catalogue, curator Angela O’Kelly, describes the exhibition as ‘a starting point for eight artists and designers practicing in Ireland today. The concept of the show is to explore how traditional material culture creates a resonant source for contemporary practice’. In creating work for ‘Interlace’, each of these artists and designers selected for this show have contextualised lace in ways, both past and present, as they consider lace as place, lace as memory, lace as metaphor.

When we think of ‘tradition’ we automatically place it in the past? We talk of crafts ability to be both faithful to its own (past) tradition and history while also asserting its relevance and value in (present) contemporary society. Are we too quick to assign tradition to history, failing to consider it as a functional part of our continuing culture? Speaking at the world’s craft conference in 1964, Pupul Jayakar stated that ‘Tradition is not a static point. It is in constant movement bringing into its contours all that the craftsman perceives and experiences as a given moment along with the great sub-conscious storehouse he carries within him of history and knowledge of his craft’.

Interlace continues at the National Craft Gallery until May 7th 2014


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Frances McDonald