Saturday, 10 December 2011

Martha Stewart & Craft

What a pair of sourpusses!  Back in 1997 before she was a felon, Martha Stewart visited Newfoundland.  Bill Gates was picking up the tab as he had hired her to do a piece for an e-magazine he had recently launched.  I think it was called Mongopark.  Anyhow, Martha brought her entourage and filmed a segment for her TV programme at the same time.  Martha was not nice, I remember watching her interact with her crew and I never heard her say please or thank you and she really ordered them around.  I thought to myself, "if this is what success looks like I don't want it."  But I was impressed with her ability to focus.  The lady was like a laser.  And she was very intelligent  The Craft Council of NL opened up so that Martha could shop privately.  A few members were invited to be on hand to answer questions about their work.  I was also invited to help with the answers and Martha asked me about hooked mats.  In the end she bought a hooked mat with a moose on it.  She was disappointed that she did not see one during her visit.  Martha did ask questions about Newfoundland's tradition of mat making.  It was clear she had done her homework and already knew about Grenfell.  I wonder about the impact Martha has had on the state of craft practice.  I'll end this post by showing the more public face that Martha usually shows on camera.  Life is messy why shouldn't craft be messy sometimes too.

At this year's University Art Association of Canada conference - an annual event for academics and scholars of art history- her name came up more than once during the craft sessions.  This year the session of 8 papers focussed on the theme of "messy craft" a term we've inherited from Glenn Adamson in the U.K.  It refers to the practice of deliberately flaunting the conventions of masterful technique within craft practice.  Think of it as abstract expressionism versus realism.  You'd never think of Martha Stewart in terms of messy craft unless, as Sandra Alfoldy pointed out in her presentation, it is to describe an amateur's failed attempt to aspire to Martha's perfection.  

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