Why is making relevant today?

From Experience: creating objects, interest and interaction is an event on craft to be held in Belfast on 3-5 March 2011. “The programme consists of a specialised workshop with selected participants and a public symposium with an impressive line up of national and international speakers and facilitators.” Well, they must have run short of impressive speakers, because somehow I’ve got the gig to provide a keynote on Friday morning. Craft Northern Ireland is organising the event, and the other speakers include some colleagues I’ve not seen for a time like Katie Bunnell and Jorunn Veiteberg. One of the driving forces behind the event is my friend Christoph Zellweger. His only advice to me: “shake up the audience and tell them things they’ve never heard about craft before”. OK, I can do that.

I know why I think craft and making is relevant today, but I am particularly interested in how others see that relevance. That is one of the themes I intend to explore in my talk. So, to find out I used the highly scientific research method of asking my friends on Facebook and my followers on Twitter for their responses to the question why is making relevant today?

Thank you to everyone for taking the time to send a response. Without any further comment on my part, here are their responses:

Making, through material engagement and workmanship, allows tangible and personal expressions of what we are and what we value. @Aghillo

Because it offers self worth. @StrandedYarnsUK

Making is relevant, process & product facilitate expression, reflection & contemplation in order to understand the world. @SonjaBarfoed

In our three dimensional material world machines can’t embed imagination or humanity. @victoriampirie

Why is making relevant today? Digital fabrication technologies are bringing control of making back in the hands of the designer. @LynneMacLachlan

You can take something old and unloved and turn it into something new and beautiful – and then its also “green”. Good Luck ! @bitandbobs

Making is important, because its related a sense of purpose, of fulfilment and connects us to the physical world & its meaning. @RachelFDCooper

Making is thinking made tangible. Without physical manifestation, thoughts can be too abstract for people to connect with. @martyn_evans

According to @lct1969 it relaxes her. Also with her quilts they have history as they are made from personal items. @Sasha_Taylor

Without making, we’d all be having a pretty bleak time in an entirely digital landscape. @joannasaurusrex

Because it makes ideas tangible – gives form to creativity. @emmaleemurphy

Intangible connection between sculptor & material – a work has superior properties if created by hand & mind, than just by mind. @tommetcalfe

For the progressive “post consumer”, making is an acquired skill that is both sought after and admired. @gr33nVinyl

Craft, understood as being responsible for all the steps in a process, is enhancing to the self; art is not a necessary condition of it; it is in a sense an illusion as the what counts as ‘responsible’ and as ‘steps’ depend on the context. Tom Fisher on Facebook

Craft and making for me is a process of creating something you think you know in your mind, into something you can see that you know in reality (or not, when you find out that you can’t possibly make what your imagination conjures up). In my current experience I find that toddlers are most pleased with the process, while I sometimes get a bit frustrated with the playdoh. Alison Stott on Facebook

Craft gets more importance and relevance and popularity when recession hits, because of lack of money people tend to get more creative themselves and there is a saying in my homeland “need is the mother of creation”. Hope Irani on Facebook

Being able to ‘make’ is empowering. You don’t have to take a mass-produced generalised solution to your particular requirement and if you do, you have the confidence to alter it to suit you better. Grace Horne on Facebook

I think its also the pleasure of making something with your hands, and having quality in mind. (Yes, I am talking about cooking.) Look who is talking, but the different iterations of my christmas biscuits got better and better. And it was a pleasure making them. Michael Hohl on Facebook

The collective act of making can provide dialogical space through which to make sense of, and therefore meaningfully craft our lived realities. Lesley McKee on Facebook


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