Helen Carnac is a maker and academic. As a maker Helen is interested in her work being centred self-consciously on the explicit connection between material, process and maker, with an emphasis on deliberation and reflection. Helen was co-chair of the 2006 ACJ conference Carry the Can http://www.carrythecan.org , which hoped to develop understanding and debate about the different ways we value material and process today and recently co-curated the exhibition ‘Process Works’ (ISBN-10: 0955437911).
For more information go to www.helencarnac.co.uk
Andy Horn formerly Exhibitions Organiser at Craftspace, a national craft development agency and currently Exhibitions Manager at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. Andy is interested in exploring themes and ideas that reflect emerging craft interests within the sector, that may contribute to a greater awareness of the position of craft within wider cultural contexts, or that communicate its distinct identities. In particular he is interested in the connection of ideas to social practice and the commonality of experience both through time and within everyday life.
Russell Martin is a visual artist and writer living and working in London. For the past ten years, he was worked exclusively with dialogue as a medium, and remains interested in how this can create and maintain social structures. Recent projects include Rational Rec, a monthly interdisciplinary arts social event, and Portable Radio, a series of recorded dialogues with art practitioners around the UK. Russell was commissioned by Craftspace to initiate the Analogue project in advance of the Taking Time exhibition. More information can be found at russellmartin.org.uk.
A Summer Season of Discussion
For the temporary season of invited contributions to the blog, which ran from July to October 2008, we invited five people, a mix of makers, writers and academics, to draw from their interests, practice and research and reflect on the themes of the blog. Our contributors were: Paul Harper, Dr. Ananya Jahanara Kabir, Malcolm Martin, Linda Sandino and Clara Vuletich.
Paul Harper studied furniture at Buckinghamshire College of Art and Design and completed the MA Applied Arts and Visual Culture at London Guildhall University in 2002. He is currently studying for his PhD at London Metropolitan University, which is concerned with developing a theoretical framework for craft practice, based on makers accounts, and exploring the potential of digital video as a methodological tool to aid the analysis of practice, by which aspects of craft practice can be more roundly externalized for research, reflective and curatorial purposes.
Paul practiced as a furniture maker for 18 years. Since 1999 he has worked in arts management. He currently combines research and writing about crafts with teaching and freelance work across the visual arts. He is a director of ALIAS, a platform for the development of artist led groups in the South West of England, which aims to nurture artist led activity by providing a critical context, resources and advice to artist led groups. As part of his work for ALIAS he has organised an ongoing series of symposia entitled Practice and Reflection, aimed at encouraging practitioners to contribute to critical discourse around craft. He is also Chair of the Forest of Dean Sculpture Trust, which commissions a programme of temporary and permanent artworks that engage with the specificity of the Forest of Dean.
Dr Ananya Jahanara Kabir
Dr Ananya Jahanara Kabir is Senior Lecturer at the School of English, University of Leeds. She currently holds an AHRC Knowledge Transfer Fellowship to work with Shisha, the Manchester based Agency for the promotion of South Asian Arts and Crafts. Dr Kabir’s interests are wide-ranging, but pivot on an interest in the shaping of modernity through colonialism, empire and postcolonialism, as manifested particularly in the material object. She has worked on the connections between modernity, craft, empire and postcolonial conflict in her forthcoming book, ‘Territory of Desire: Representing the Valley of Kashmir’ (University of Minnesota Press, 2009). She is also on the executive board of SAA-UK, Leeds, which promotes South Asian music and dance in Yorkshire, and on the steering committee of The Shape of Things, a national initiative platforming new work by artists making in craft media.
I am a carver, and for the last ten years have been working full-time with my partner Gaynor Dowling. We have evolved what is very much a signature approach to our use of wood, across everything from hand-pieces to public art, from straight sculpture to vessels to interiors. But over the last few months we have been mixing things up and going back to basics to evolve new work, that looks and thinks differently.
I’m passionately concerned with carving as making, as an activity involving the whole person, as one that’s been practiced since modern humans came into being, and as one that in present times precariously straddles the wall between craft and art.
My main research interest at this point is the development and function of Buddhist sculpture- how form, devotional practice, belief and society act to shape the makers’ practice and viewers’ response.
And the backstory? 1985-97 Teaching in Art Colleges, principally what evolved into UWE in Bristol. Before that was Fine Art at Bath, and Cultural History at the RCA with (then) Chris Frayling.
Linda Sandino gained an MA in Design History at the Royal College of Art/V&A, and is currently embarked on a PhD at the Centre for Narrative Research at the University of East London on narrative identity in the life histories of applied artists. Her current post is Senior Research Fellow in Oral History at V&A/Camberwell College of Arts, University of the Arts London, developing an oral history archive, Voices in the Visual Arts [viva] www.vivavoices.org, and a project at the V&A about curators. She has also conducted a substantial number of recordings for the Life Story Collection at The British Library National Sound Archive with architects, craftspeople, designers, and painters. She is editor of the Special Issue of the Journal of Design History ‘Oral Histories and Design’ (2006). Other publications have focused on the history and theory of contemporary applied arts. She is on the board of the Design History Society.
Clara Vuletich is a printed textile designer who produces hand-printed wallpaper and textile designs to commission. Clara is also the Research Assistant for the Textiles Environment Design (TED) Project at Chelsea College of Art & Design, where she works on developing eco-design strategies for textile designers. Her thoughts and ideas on sustainable fashion and textiles can be found on her blog