The exhibition proposes to explore the identity of craft within the philosophies of the slow movement. Slow takes as its starting point the issues emerging from the Slow food movement which has developed as a critique of the consequences of our unsustainable consumerist culture and its increasingly fast lifestyles. ‘The slow movement is a cultural shift towards slowing down life’s pace. It is not organized and controlled by a singular organization. A principal characteristic of the Slow Movement is that it is propounded, and its momentum maintained, by individuals that constitute the expanding global community of Slow. Although it has existed in some form since the Industrial Revolution its popularity has grown considerably since the rise of Slow Food and Cittaslow in Europe, with Slow initiatives spreading as far as Australia and Japan’ (Wikipedia) Slow is not a new concept in the crafts. In fact it would seem that notions of ‘slow’ are epitomised by Craft and processes within craft production and life. It is not a literal translation of the word that we are interested in, but the current debate in the understanding of the nature of Craft and craftsmanship, which is developing and how aspects of the slow movement are related. However there are more notions of Slow in relationship to time and process, economy and material, nature of production and consumption, community and society that we would like to explore through a set of craft philosophies. In the way that a photograph made through a long exposure both alters and reveals something beyond that of immediate snapshot, which often becomes a substitute for real engagement, slowness is associated with reflective and observational processes that lead to a new understanding of what we experience and know. Slowness is also particularly associated with craft skills: skill which is accrued over time, cannot be rushed nor easily measured, is intuitively learned and articulated through making. The root of the word indigenous comes from the verb to produce. This can suggest how craft – and this is particularly true within traditional practice within communities – is embedded in a sense of locality, through its treatment and use of local resources, response to environment and local markets, and the social and community status of craft practitioners. The slow food movement focuses upon the importance of the indigenous in the face of its threat from globalised practices. The question for us is: what is the identity of the maker within modern society and particularly for those makers who position themselves within a critical position. We have discussed the following themes but we are open to other interpretations and ideas that contributors offer:
• The capacity of craft and craft processes to engender social interaction, social relationships and conviviality, often through the use of craft in signifying and enabling social ritual and shared activity.
• Narratives between person to person, person to place, material or ideas in which communication takes place over a period of time to allow for change, readjustment of position, new ideas, collaboration and development – the space that allows for things to change or be realized.
• The consideration of time within makers’ practices that enables observation and reflection. This may also include maker’s use of repeated activity to enable reflection and observation or as a process within making. The taking of time that objects take to make – what is this value in the world of rapid prototyping?
• The use of performance by makers within their work which engages the public in the ‘making’ of the work and challenges ideas of authorship. • Work that explores time-based ideas of ‘unmaking’ as well as making in order to reveal ideas of process, materiality and the notion of the object as a completed entity, suggesting how being ‘in process’ can communicate a work’s essential meaning.
• Makers whose work explores questions of site and locality and the importance of stewardship in both the management of their practice and the resourcing of their materials
• Makers whose work is interested in the mutability or life-cycle of the object: an interest in initiating change within an object once it leaves the studio; and the capacity of certain materials to embody ongoing change – through deterioration, fading, wear and tear, that overlays its material language and meaning. An exhibition also enables a maker to explore the possibilities within an object changing in a managed or unmanaged way through a tour.
Our blog, http//:makingaslowrevolution.wordpress.com discusses some of the ideas that we have been considering as well as those from contributing makers, designers and writers.