being crafty

David Byrne – yeah, him of Talking Heads fame, amongst other things – has weighed into the craft-art debate in his latest journal post. He has an interesting perspective, relating the debate to music, of course, and photography.

Now to spoil the very end of the post; his suggestion is to go renaissance and apprentice yourself to a master. It’s an interesting idea, especially in light of something I read on Marcus Westbury’s blog recently, Are volunteers in the arts exploited? The connection being that if you were to apprentice yourself to the person you really wanted to learn from, would you expect payment? I have been applying for funding to do just that – learn from a master- and I have not once thought that any fruits of my learning would be of such value as to attract monetary compensation from the teacher. To put it another way, I am seeking an unpaid apprenticeship.

All this is hot on the heels of a email I received yesterday, seeking advice on how to become a jeweller. Going by the questions put to me, to those with little knowledge of ‘art jewellery’, it would seem that an apprenticeship is the gold-standard learning model. (The ‘traditional’ poorly paid apprenticeship, that is – hello to my sister the furniture manufacturer!)

So we have agreement, as those outside art-jewellery think David Byrne is correct. To the apprenticeship! So why are there no artist-jeweller’s offering traditional/paid apprenticeships? Is it because of Marcus’s call to arms, which is essentially; why be exploited, when you can exploit yourself? Or does it come to another arm of his argument – there’s not enough money, not to pay you, anyway.