Thursday, July 13, 2006

Guerilla Craft

I've just come back from a couple of days at Verge- the National Ceramics Conference in Brisbane. It was very exciting to catch up with old friends and meet new people. I especially appreciate these events for the fact that younger artists are exposed to the older (wiser!) generation. It was great to speak to icons of Australian pottery such as Kevin Grealy and Johanna Demaine about their careers and history in the ceramic community.

Michael Keighery was part of a panel talking about the future of ceramics in Australia and I think his comments could apply to all areas of craft and art. Keighery was saying that although there is less and less funding available and colleges and art departments are closing and consolidating artists have to get out in the public and not just rely on government funding to make a living or to create new work.

I think that in some ways our reliance on government funding and grants has taken art away from the everyday life and created a self referential niche of grant junkies and bureaucrats. This can be depressing for new artists trying to break in to the funding cycle and creates an exclusive feel to the arts which turns many people off. I think grants are great but you don't have to get grants to make it as an artist what you need are clients, patrons and supporters- to this end I say don't try to break into the government funding cycle, try to break away from it.

Hold craft guerilla events in your local neighborhood, open studios and street stalls are a great way to expose your work to locals in the environment where it was made. Blogging is also a great way to get your work out and create your own virtual community. The Mob Store in Brisbane hosts a tiny jewelry workshop and these craft guerrillas are on the front line fighting back control of their own craft destinies through competitions, home sales, and unusual venues such as Reverse Garbage. The Yellow House in Brighton (UK) opens every weekend in May for the Brighton festival and promotes five or six artist by turning the entire house into and exhibition space for a month. Craft is robust enough to be out in the world buffeted by the winds of change and excitement. Guerilla craft events can be a lighthearted way of engaging new people and compliment a gallery based practice.


Liana said...

Yes Shannon. I agree with you 100%
There are opportunities out there (plenty of them in fact) you just have to create them.

Florence said...

I love the term Guerilla Craft, its sexy. Did you coin the term or was it somethink for the conference?

Lovedddd meeting you in person.


shannon said...

I thought of it all myself!
Viva la Revolution

Rebecca-the-Wrecker said...

couldn't agree more. there are organisations and people in arts admin sector who seem to think that the craft/arts scene would not exist without them but often they just seem to get in the way or send us on a bum steer! And it does give the impression of arts being elitist- indeed it can be the chosen few who get the grants over and over as they are considered a safe bet by the institutions who by their nature are not the dynamic risk-takers that we'd like them to be! I've noticed that in NZ they have a great craft jewellery and ceramics scene, still teach it in their degree based art schools (ceramics, jewellery, textiles) better than we do with all our cutbacks but they have very little govt funding apart from that and no major craft org anymore. The many artist run initiatives that they have are practitioner funded and have to be commercially viable and there is an attitude of pride among them that it is so. The arts is supported better by the community and for example it is common to see contemporary jewellery being worn on the street by men and women alike. It is not seen as such an elite area. I was at the Yellow House last year and for the open artist houses at the Brighton Festival and it ROCKED! There are lots of artist run workshops over there too and it was really inspiring to see. I think we should organise a guerilla art and music fair at new farm park.

shannon said...

I find it truly liberating to even consider organising artist run initiatives-
New Farm Park sounds excellent.

Rebecca-the-Wrecker said...

check out this mob- they are running a guerilla media org in canada
the 'queen of light and joy' left a comment on my blog. they are all based in the same area and comment on events and stuff in their hometown tho they got together thru blogging. cool huh!?

Florence said...

Hi gals,

I checked out Queen's link you mentioned, very interesting, a way of joining everything up for an area. We should think about something like this.