So whilst I'm frantically working away on that I thought I'd schedule a few posts in my absence about my relationship with craft and the practitioners I found most inspiring whilst researching for my MA.
So here it goes, post 1/8:
I grew up surrounded by textiles and crafting. It was my mother’s past time and she made me and my brother knitted clothes as children as it was cheaper and she could make all creative decisions (or I could demand that pink Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles jumper which I STILL have the pattern book for, watch out world). She says it was never a chore for her, in fact she quite enjoyed making us Ghostbusters jumpers when we were younger (above is a fine example of my brother modelling that jazzy little number). There is no surprise that her mother taught her to knit, which is unfortunately something I have never quite got my head around and that crafting in the Tuck/Blandford family seems hereditary. She has always worked in the textiles industry and we even had a room in my childhood home dedicated to various industrial sewing machines where she used to make sheepskin jackets. I remember the first cross stitch I made, it was of a white house with a flower trellis from a set she had got from one of her magazines. I enjoyed making it but soon got bored of following the pattern. I started added my own twist but inevitably it ended in an unfinished mess (no change there then) but I’ve always relished in the idea of doing something ‘wrong’ and making it my own.
Craft has rocketed in popularity and there are a multitude of reasons for this. In a period economical uncertainty people have once again adopted the ‘make do and mend’ attitude. It can be a rejection of mass production where consumers are becoming more aware of how and where their products are made and some people just yearn for the satisfaction of owning something that is unique. There has been an obvious rise of the handmade in popular culture, for example the television series ‘Kirstie’s Homemade Home’ (first broadcast on Channel 4 back in April 2009) and a shift in aesthetic appreciation where the handmade is once again fashionable (most noticeable by all the handmade/up-cycled influences on the high street and the growth of websites such as Etsy) The ‘The Power of Making’ exhibition held at the V&A museum this year was a huge success in supporting the reinvention of craft. The exhibition was comprised of one hundred crafted objects which demonstrated skill and awe that only a fine crafted item could possess, it was a real eye opener to those who may not be familiar with the skill and dedication to a craft. It also shifted preconceived views of craft by exploring work produced by both male and female practitioners by challenged the word ‘craft’ and it’s negative and oppressive connotations. It also highlighted that traditional skills are under threat by mass production in the industry and the lacklustre qualities cheap manufacturing have. Pete Dormer writes in his 1997 book ‘The Culture of Craft’, “Whole generations are no longer moved by that which enthralled earlier generations.”, but with the influx of craft/DIY via the internet, television and fashion, younger generations views have certainly altered despite living in a world sterilsed by technology.