Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Arts and Crafts

I bought a few books from the shop where I sometimes work. These books were about three art styles, all closely related: Arts and Crafts, Art Nouveau, Asian Art. These books are fantastic and so inspiring. Here are some images to get you into the right mind-frame:

The Arts and Crafts movement is something I strongly relate to and that is in line with my own ways of thinking and living. I think the concept is also relevant to the wider world, even more so now than in the early 20th Century when the movement was in full swing. There is a definite move now towards the handmade. The popularity of is just one proof of this. Closer to (my) home the proof is in the growing number of rural craft fairs where the middle classes flock to buy locally handmade unique practical objects, as well as the sharp increase in craftspeople who are keen to revive dying arts. The industrialisation and automation of our society is fast growing old and uninspiring. I’m not saying that there is a move away from it entirely; I’m saying that there is a revival of the ideas raised in the Arts and Crafts movement.

For me this is a happy and good thing. After reading a Handmade Life I came to see the human world in a more positive light. I take pleasure in the manmade objects that surround me everyday. I aspire to either make most of the things I use on a daily basis, or to know the craftsperson. This way I can really appreciate the form and origin of these objects and feel an attachment to them that I could never have with a cup bought from Ikea. Human beings are creative and skilled animals who delight in their creativity and skill. This society is becoming increasingly automated, with machines replacing humans in many areas, not just manufacture. I went into Natwest over the weekend and was directed to a machine that I was expected to pay my cheques into. I didn’t want to use the machine. I wanted to speak to a real person, who smiles and does the job in a transparent and actually quite beautiful way. I have read Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut and I can see that our society is heading towards the society in the pages of that book. I believe that this new Arts and Crafts movement is a positive step away from that possible grim future. People make beautiful, flawed objects with an origin. Machines make replicated perfect objects. People take time and pour passion into what they make. Machines churn out indifferent object after indifferent object. These machine-made objects are turning their users into indifferent, unskilled and apathetic shells. Maybe that’s an exaggeration, but there is some truth in there and I don’t want it to apply to me.

But we do live in a different age with different tools and attitudes. There is no escaping this and why bother to even try? In response to all of this I have been designing some of my own things that I will use in making various objects, such as cushions, throws, fabrics and wall hangings. These designs were drawn by hand, scanned into my PC and then coloured using my wacom tablet in Photoshop.

Next Stop: Hansons Fabric shop in Stirminster Newton to buy material with which to make these designs into a reality. I am planning to attend Dorchester’s Spinners, Weavers and Dyers Guild open day where I hope to be taught about wool spinning and weaving. My attempts to teach myself spinning is not going so well. We’ll see if I improve at all with some expert guidance.

On a wool-related note: There are many very cute little lambs bleating away in the field that surrounds Mr Kite’s house. It’s a shame what these cute bounding little things turn into, but at least they bear me some wool to spin.

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