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Craft in unexpected places

Macbeth, P and Barber, C (2015) Craft in unexpected places. Craft Research, 6 (2). pp. 275-285. ISSN 2040-4689

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Abstract

© 2015 Intellect Ltd Article. Within the shifting territories of craft practice, the handmade has become a relational form of contemporary activity that transforms our understanding of place through a hands-on, minds-on process of collectivemaking. The conceptual significance of craft is activated through a chance encounter with the handmade in daily life. During the article we aim to explore the confluence between crafting, social engagement, volunteering and the realms of education and creative practice that we have both experienced first hand. What will be revealed will be the voices of practitioners collectively exploring cloth’s potential as a metaphor for consciousness, carrier of narrative and catalyst for community empathy and cohesion. This will be informed by an enquiry into historical forms of communal crafting drawn from archival research at the Imperial War Museum London and Foundling Hospital Collection housed at the Foundling Museum in London and a primary case study of the workshop ‘Desconocida – Unknown – Ukjent’. We employ a method used in object-based research: a value system that can be applied to the consideration of cloth as an object of study – namely, the locational, iconographical, archival, aesthetic and transferral. Focusing particularly on the transferral and locational, we will examine the significance of the handmade gesture in particular artistic, political and social contexts. These visual and textual narratives will inform our perception of ‘Craft in unexpected places’ and bring visibility to a selection of craft interventions by making links between the wide-reaching possibilities for craft-based practices and their expressive potential within the social and political landscapes they inhabit.

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