February 17, 2014 § Leave a comment

After my last post, I received a tweet from Anna Brown asking me if I had read anything by Peter Dormer. The answer was no, although I had read ‘The Culture of Craft’, which is edited by him. I immediately had a look on Abebooks to see what Dormer had written. There were a number of books on ceramics and design but the one that caught my eye was ‘The Art of the Maker’, with its subtitle ‘skill and its meaning in art, craft and design’.

It’s an expensive book to buy but, fortunately, my partner studies at a local art college and managed to take a copy out from their library. So, this is a post signalling my excitement about the fact that I am reading it and pointing you in its direction. It’s right up my street. It is a series of essays directly relating to the skill of making. There is a chapter on ‘Learning a Craft’, where he talks about the importance of judgement, something that can only be acquired through doing. The act of learning through ‘doing’ is an important thread through the book. He writes about being an expert, which means ‘living that knowledge’. He writes about commitment, commitment to learn driven by strength and determination, and the acceptance of the need to follow rules and conventions. Rules – there is a whole chapter on following rules (or not), ‘Do experts follow rules?’.

I intend to write more fully about aspects of the book at another time but I wanted to use this post as a pointer. There are few books that deal with this subject, the act of making, and do it with Dormer’s eloquence. Thank you, Anna, for the nudge in his direction. A quote from the book to finish:

‘To know how is a much more powerful and enriching position to be in than merely to know of something…the continuance of handicraft technologies depends upon whether or not people wish to continue to be passive participants in the world of experience by being in the hands of others or whether they are to have experiences and memories of their own. After all, as Wittgenstein put it, “The world is my world”.’ (p.103)


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