The Andes is revealed

I am in Santiago for a little while presenting a series of lectures and workshops on the theme of ‘craft as art’. The presentation is organised by Raiz Diseno and supported by ONA in partnership with MAVI.

The series basically involves outlining the practice of ‘contemporary craft’ as practiced in countries like Australia, and seeing how it might apply to Chile. There are many obstacles in this direction. ‘Artesanías’ is an inexact translation of ‘craft’. While craft is a largely middle class activity in Australia, in Chile artisans have quite a low status, despite their importance for national identity. But in Chile at this point in time, there seems to be so many people are wanting to open up the space between the gallery and the shop. It seems worth a try.

There was a great audience for the first lecture last night. The question of the lecture was the relationship between art, design and craft. It seemed useful to have a reasonable simple model of art to begin with, so I based the argument around a ‘yoga for the mind’.

The progress was steady and the mixture of Spanish-English-Spanglish gave us time to digest some of the strange practices on the other side of the Pacific. After two hours, the audience was still engaged and took the opportunity for some quite spirited discussion. As often happens, much of the passion evoked was about the barriers separating craft off from the centres of power. It helped greatly having this event in a visual art gallery, as it provided a good sign that opportunities exist, if we know how to ask for them.

It’s a reasonably clear day in Santiago. The smog is a thin veil, behind which you can just make out the Andes. And from MAVI, we can just glimpse the kind of creative expressions that craft might be able to achieve in a gallery.

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