The World of Small Things – upcoming exhibition

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The ongoing quest

In the nineteenth century, the Arts and Crafts Movement turned to traditional cultures in response to the perceived sterility of modern life. With studio practice in the twentieth century, a number of individual craft artists were inspired by non-Western craft traditions, such as the East Asian ceramics. In the later twentieth-century, a number of craftspersons made individual pilgrimages to a wide range of traditional craft communities in order to absorb the more embedded lifestyle of making. For many, this entailed long-term commitment by craftspersons in assisting their host communities to sustain their craft practice in a globalising market.

You buy the story of where it comes from

In response to globalisation and its problems, the twenty-first century witnesses the rise of ‘ethical consumerism‘. Consumers hope that their patronage has positive effects on the community of origin. Fair trade coffee and chocolate are the most obvious new ethical commodities. At the same time, the relational paradigm in creative arts makes the construction of relationships through the work a part of the artistic process, alongside the product that results from it.

Craft and design work collaboratively

Relationships between modern and traditional makers are evolving in interesting ways. Those purchasing their products are buying not only a beautifully designed and made object, but also the story of its production. Relationships are diversifying beyond the standard relation of product designer and artisan. The new ‘superpowers’ such as India and China are now employing services of craftspersons in countries like Australia to make specialist objects for new wealth. In the context of the Kyoto Protocols, the new collaborations between makers, designers and manufacturers offer a grass roots approach to global cooperation.

The World of Small Things is an exhibition designed to explore the variety of dialogues between cultures that are currently being practiced in the craft field. Its goals are:

  • To share ideas and experiences about cross-cultural collaboration
  • To promote ethical consumerism in craft and design
  • To enjoy the beautiful combination of clever design, craft skill and social purpose

Scheduled for Craft Victoria, June 2009. For expressions of interest, please contact Kevin Murray world@kitezh.com.

Top image from the Guatamala Fundap project by Innovarte

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