June 18, 2012 § Leave a comment

After last week’s post, I was thinking through what I had written about the detachment of art and the usefulness of craft. It’s a subject that I come back to frequently, as I studied Fine Art, eventually deciding not to pursue it, and recently became a potter. In the last post, I said that I had been reading ‘thinking through craft’ by Glenn Adamson and how in the book he discusses the detachment of art from cultural life, and that according to Theodor Adorno, in his book ‘Aesthetic Theory’, this is necessary in order for art to be free and uncorrupted.

It is this detachment of art that I struggled with in terms of my own making as an artist. There are many works of art that I love and that inspire me…

The process works of Richard Serra.

The works by minimalist sculptors, like Donald Judd.

Experimental film-making, like Empire by Andy Warhol.

By the nature of their making and their exhibition, they are detached from the world in which we inhabit, the world in which we navigate daily. Artworks are detached by the frame that surrounds them, the pedestal that elevates them, the gallery that houses them. These devises are constructed to signal a work of art. They separate you from it. They indicate that an intellectual engagement is necessary. With few exceptions (Jeremy Deller, Andy Goldsworthy…), they remain at arms length and if you want them in your life you have to buy the exhibition catalogue or a postcard to stick on your fridge.

Craft objects, on the other hand, cannot be like this, because they are fundamentally about use. Their potential is realised only in use. The chair, the suit, the rug, the knife, the pot… All reside in the world in which we exist. They are inextricably linked to the human body and need that body to become vital, energised. They need a context, an environment, a scenario. Craft objects should be beautiful, should be given all the considerations that a painter would give a painting, a sculptor a sculpture, but in themselves they are pregnant, a possibility. It is in use that they become. We understand them through our hands, against our skin, under our feet.

I said in the last post that craft objects should disappear. It was a quote from Adamson, and maybe it is a little strong. But unlike an artwork, which is autonomous, independent and distant, craft objects must co-exist in harmony, intimate and personal.

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