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Survey shows a need for critical writing about craft

The results of our survey are out. About two-thirds of respondents were craft practitioners. The others included curators/writers (44%) and designers (37%). Most currently get their information from existing craft & design organisations, though half also get their news from Facebook and blogs.

When asked about the kinds of formats that would be of interest, there was strong support for reflective writing, including reviews, essays and profiles. A surprising number opted for craft histories, which suggests a need to provide some reference point for the field.



While a survey like this is useful to collect data, the space for extra comment is critical to gauge thinking and gather ideals. Other suggestions for content included:

  • artist profiles when written independently and not gallery/artist generated publicity.
  • investigative, analytical, witty editorial inquiry and one that pays writers
  • Finding a way to network young curators with artists is also something missing from the Craft Industry
  • Interviews with national / international craft and design curators Articles on grass roots initiates that promote and sell work
  • It would be good to see some true, critical journalism, critiquing
  • I think it should cover the intersections of the changing world of craft- ie traditional crafts and their reinvention using new materials/ new purposes

One craftsperson commented on a divide between the university and practice. While many enjoy the stimulation of education, they miss this when they leave.

I often feel I don’t know what craft workshops/depts are up to (visiting artists/shows/current theoretical thinkings in their galleries etc) and I’d like to know as I miss the academic world and its goings ons as a maker. As a maker I think there is too bigger disjunct once you are out in the real world between the two…

Many pleaded for critical writing, perceiving that many publications about craft are simply promotional.

Overall, the comments reflected the absence of publication – “Once again we are without quality Craft/Design publication so the need to restore the balance is important.” And a sense that something should be done new – “I think that it is timely and important for craft in Australia to have a lively, current, well written, pictorially rich magazine.”

As to the title, respondents were evenly split between the alternatives. But comments were useful in ensuring that the final title can realise the hopes that might be invested in it.

Thanks so much to all those who completed the survey. Your offers of support will be very important in getting this publication started.

Depending on seed funding, we hope to have the publication launched at the Parallels conference, National Gallery of Victoria in September. Please stay tuned for developments as they occur this year. If you have any inquiries, please contact me through this blog.

A new craft magazine?

What do you think about a new craft and design magazine based in Australia?2015 is the final year of the National Craft Initiative, which is a process managed by National Association of the Visual Arts to review the sector after the de-funding of Craft Australia. NCI will culminate in a conference Parallels: Journeys in Contemporary Making  at the National Gallery of Victoria, 17-18 September. This would be a perfect moment to launch a new magazine that expresses confidence in the sector and provides a platform for ongoing dialogue.Key elements of the current proposal are:

  • the strengthening network for craft and design across the Asia Pacific
  • growing expectations of participation through social media
  • increased interest in Aboriginal and Torres Street Islander craft & design in the region
  • support for thoughtful and engaging writing about craft and design
  • increased use of e-commerce

At this early developmental stage, it is important to receive thoughts on such a venture from those who are active in the sector (including outside Australia). Your responses to this short questionnaire are most welcome. Survey closes 6 February. Click here.