Monday, 26 March 2012

Looking Down from the Top of Craft Mountain

Andy Pomorski, Gate 2011, forged iron, brass, bronze copper

This week the Spring/Summer 2012 issue of Studio magazine will be arriving on newsstands across Canada and in subscribers' mailboxes.  The cover story is Ingenious Diligence and is a profile of Bronfman winner Charles Lewton-Brain.  That issue also contains a side order of home grown Newfoundland talent in the form of a Portfolio mini series on Makers Working in Isolation - watch for the section on Reed Weir of Robinsons, NL.  I liked her saying that when she steps out of her studio under the evening sky the stars feel like friends.

Now, if you want a main dish serving of NL talent look at my article The Tide is Changing, Four NF Craftspeople Reverse an Old Trend.  I originally was going to call this article, The Young and the Restless but I don't blame the editors for turning it down.  I did give them a title menu to pick from. because I always trust an editor to know what fits their readership best.  The article features the bustling careers of four talented craftspeople under the age of 35 who are having or have had solo shows at the Craft Council Gallery this year:  Jessica Waterman, Michael Flaherty, Jaclyn Humphries and Heather Mills.  All of these makers have advanced educations in their field from institutions outside the province but all have decided to base their careers in their home province instead of say B.C, Ontario, Nova Scotia or the States where they could have more options.  This is very important for the profession of craft in NL because–and these were the most recent statistics I could find- a NF Statistics Agency report identified that 63% of the craft industry was over the age of 50 while less than 1% was under the age of 29.
Jaclyn Humphries, Aggressive Comfort, 2011 Ring, sterling silver, handfabricated hollow form

This is how the article concludes:

"Waterman, Flaherty, Humphries and Mills all work with themes that are based on their life experience in NL but demonstrate characteristics that define emerging craft trends across Canada and beyond.  In varying degrees they possess problem solving approaches more consistent with a designer than a craftsperson; a willingness to collaborate, borrow and acquire new skills; a dexterous use of digital technologies; and a refreshing ability to engage the public's imagination.  They are not waiting to be "discovered".  Buoyed by a strong sense of community and a shared resourcefulness, they are busy pursuing and creating new opportunities rather than complaining about the lack of them.  These traits equip these four NL craftspeople to become craft's new global citizens."

The traits I identified in that conclusion mirror a report I read prepared for the Ontario Arts Council in its evaluation of the craft scene in Ontario that Denis Longschamps graciously shared with me.  I cited him and the report but my endnotes were not published.  Back in 1993-94 I facilitated meetings for Vector Research in the Ontario Arts Council previous evaluation of its craft-funding program so it was interesting to be able to make comparisons and note how the craft landscape is changing.  I think this is one of the things I enjoy most:  climbing up on my imaginary mountain top and looking down to get a bird's eye view of craft practice.  That's why I liked the Metal Arts Guild of Canada's job curating their Exhibition in Print– it gave me the opportunity to take the pulse of metal arts from coast to coast in Canada.  That's a pretty wicked side benefit.

Studio magazine attempted and succeeded to do the same thing with a special feature titled The State of Craft, Five senior craft curators look at their chosen medium and take stock of the issues and the makers who define craft today.  Guess who made the cut in textiles?  Barb Hunt!  Now there's a woman ripe for a Bronfman award.

Charles Lewton-Brain, Earsquare Earpiece 2009, welded stainless steel electroformed copper, 24K electroformed gold
Here's the link to Studio :

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