craft news

Melissa + Craft = ?

In my own head, I don’t define my works as craft.

There, I said it.

I know that jewellery practice can be described as a craft practice, and I am more than happy to appear in craft dialogue as a jeweller, but in my mind neither of these holds much sway. I struggle to reconcile what are seemingly fast barriers between the genres, that purport to define what I make and how I go about their making, and while I don’t think of my works as design objects, they don’t appear much like craft to me either.

I go with terms ‘artist jeweller’, ‘jewellery artist’ or ‘research jeweller’, (though the term ‘research’ is hard to use outside of the industry, given that at this early stage in its usage it seems to require a manifesto to explain its relevance to jewellery. You know, that stuff people wear)

When caught off guard and really pressed, I retreat while throwing in the word ‘design’, which confuses my inquisitor (and often myself too,) as it is then generally assumed that the designer is not the maker. So I have to backtrack a little, to say that I do make, and then I might add that it’s really more like art. I make what I want, when I want, and I work generally in series, making pieces that are connected to one another. Some people then compare it to haute couture, which I don’t deny, since that shows a reasonable understanding of the different approaches to creativity, and the connection that exists between high and low fashion, with the inference that it also applies between mine and ‘normal’ jewellery.

But this is not at all what I was planning to talk about.

On hearing the news that Craft Australia is being de-funded by the federal government, I didn’t know what to think. What would be gained, and what would be lost, by closing it down?

My first thoughts were that I have newly acquired friends over there who will no longer be employed, and that it would mean the closure of the website, which has been my primary point of, and motive for, contact with the organisation. To be honest, I can’t remember if I spent much time on the site before I found I was going to be published on it, I’m sure I would have seen it in passing, reading the odd linked article in their library.

I then realised that in losing the site, and the blog, I will lose an incoming source of information to my RSS feed, about Australia-wide events. Thoughts of losing the site itself also put the focus on my own work – research work – since I have had a couple of articles published on their website and blog, (one of which I know does reasonable trade, as it consistently appears in the top 10 list of most viewed articles for the month.) That made me think of the other practitioners of whom I had read on the site, and the recent exhibition articles (such as on the Tinker Tailor… exhibition) that have appeared there, and that I thought were deserving of the wider audience.

And I guess that’s the crux of it. Of the over eighty (80) blogs/sites that I subscribe to, there are only five others that could be termed ‘aggregators’ relevant to my jewellery practice, that is, blogs that showcase a wide variety of jewellery news and events. Of them, only three regularly have details of more than one city, and then one of those regularly feature news from Australia. So now this single feed, which relies on its membership to post updates, invitations and blogs of upcoming competitions and events from around Australia, will have to suffice alone.

I understand that no single-author blog is exhaustive, in part because blogs generally rely on the goodwill of an unpaid blogger/author to find (and be sent) the local happenings to publish them. I obviously subscribe to a bunch of them to get my full array of jewellery news, which I view as an important adjunct to my practice. (And I subscribe to a design aggregator too, thought it is rarely updated.)

Between these single-author blogs, the email updates of several galleries as well as Klimt02, and the Craft Australia news stream (which while I praise it, I am still known to curse due to the lack of geograpic detail in their summaries, which makes me click through to many an irrelevant item) I like to think I get a relatively accurate picture of what is going on in the world of jewellery, throughout Australia.

Hmmm.

In the Australia Council PDF (linked on the Craft Unbound article above) it says:

“As a response to the decisions it made, the Board agreed to develop two new initiatives: a National Craft Strategic Initiative with a total budget of $400,000 over four years that will build advocacy and strategic opportunities for the Australian craft sector; and a four year National Media Arts Strategic Initiative to give new direction and strategic opportunities for the Australian media arts sector with a total investment of $340,000 over the next four years.”

I wonder what that will be?

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