Thursday, 27 November 2014

The Maker Movement, Design thinking, Materiality, Multiples......a host of craft connections in Manchester

From documentaries about the Maker Movement to discussions on materiality, there's some deep and clever stuff going on in Manchester in the next few weeks that will interest makers and people connected with craft.

‘Maker’ & ‘Design Thinking’ Documentaries Screening
Cordingley Lecture Theatre in Humanities Bridgeford Street Building, University of Manchester
Thursday 4 December

Architectural Modelmaking, Bespoke Design & Construction. As part of an ongoing look at the role of Modelmaking in design, B.15:45 presents a screening of two highly acclaimed documentaries on the design and making field.  The two documentaries will be shown back to back from 17.30 on Thursday 4th December in the Cordingley Lecture Theatre in Humanities Bridgeford Street Building (Kantorowich Building where the B.15 Workshop and Exhibition are located).  
Each film lasts approximately 70 minutes. 


About the SEED B15 Modelmaking workshop

Material Matters Seminar
Manchester School of Art, MMU
Wednesday 10 December 2014

The exhibition in Special Collections looks at how different materials have been used in art, craft and design over the centuries and across cultures. Historic objects from MMU Special Collections and contemporary works by makers from Manchester School of Art illustrate how the choice of material changes how we shape and utilise objects; how the use of some materials hasn’t changed over centuries; and how new materials impact on object design and development.

The exhibition shows the ongoing importance of materiality to the artist and designer, and how far materials give expression to their work. The seminar will continue this discussion with presentations and conversations between practitioners and those interested and involved in material practice.

All are invited to send Alice Kettle ( a sentence or 2 on your thoughts about materiality by December 8th 2014.
These will be distributed as a collection of thoughts for discussion.

Chaired by Alice Kettle, Senior Research Fellow, MIRIAD Manchester School of Art
Open event to all

(Dis) order: A compulsion to collect 
The Holden Gallery,  Manchester School of Art
27 November to 12 December 2014
This exhibition provides a focus for art works which gather together multiple things in order to make something new. Often, it is only when we see a collection of things all in one place that we have a better understanding of difference.

Featuring the work of Ian Hamilton Finlay, Susan Hiller, Torsten Lauschmann and Allen Ruppersberg

Little Northern Contemporary Craft Fair

Ok, so we're getting a bit boring about buying unqiue, handmade craft gifts this Christmas. But, honestly, what's not to love about it?

We've just received this information from the people at Little Northern Contemporary Craft Fair - the little sister of the Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair that happens in October.

Little Northern Contemporary Craft Fair
7 December, Altrincham Grammar School for Boys

Looks like a fabulous array of lovely crafts to buy for others and yourself. 

Featuring 45 specially selected designer-makers and artists selling unique handmade gifts for a bespoke Christmas from one off jewellery and fashion accessories to beautiful and functional ceramics, textiles and artworks for the home. 

Don't miss it - 7 December, Altrincham Grammar School for Boys. Check out the LNCCF web page here.

Great Northern Events, the brains behind the fair, are part of the North West Craft Network.

Buy authentic handmade craft gifts this Christmas in the North West!

Ring by Chris Boland at Little Northern Contemporary Craft Fair
Christmas is a wonderful thing, but it can feel a bit, well.....commercial.  Duck out of it all and you risk being branded an Ebernezer. Embrace it wholeheartedly and you feel a bit like a part of your soul is sucked into a black hole with every purchase.

But there are ways to negotiate the line between abstention and submitting totally to the siren call of the beautiful but treacherous consumer monster.

Buying handmade crafts is one way to do that. Crafts offer some of the most gorgeous and original gift ideas at any time, from jewellery to toys to gifts for the home. Plus by buying locally you support an artist, boost your local economy and pump energy into your community.

So circumnavigate the Christmas gift trap by buying local craft. What could be lovelier than buying something unique, handmade and buzzing with authenticity for your nearest and dearest? I think that's what you call a win-win situation.

The North West has many brilliant makers and plenty of places to buy their work. Here are just a few:

Little Northern Contemporary Craft Fair, 7 December 2014 at Altrincham Grammar School for Boys
An off-shoot of the wonderful Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair

Available at the Atkinson, Southport
The Atkinson, Southport
Their shop sells a range of delightful crafts for all ages

Manchester Craft and Design Centre

The Craft Shop at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester

Bluecoat Display Centre, Liverpool

Blackwell House - Cumbria
Sells lovely crafts in their shop  - all in the setting of a brilliant Arts and Crafts House. Part of Lakeland Arts

Gawthorpe Textiles Collection - Padiham, near Burnley
Closed for winter at the moment, but they sell fabulous knitting patterns inspired by the collections online via their Ravlery shop at any time. Great for the crafters in your life!

Harris Museum and Art Gallery,  Preston
Features a selection of small-scale craft pieces in their shop, usually by Preston-based makers

The NW Craft Network aims to promote and strengthen high quality craft in the North West. For more about the Network, click here.

Friday, 21 November 2014

Workshop results for the symposium: Building the market for collectors of contemporary craft in the North West

Image by Chris Payne
A bit chilly, maybe, but studio 6 at the Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair was a hotbed of ideas and discussion this October.

The North West Craft Network organised the symposium BUILDING THE MARKET FOR COLLECTORS IN THE NORTH WEST in conjunction with Great Northern Events, who are the brains behind the Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair.

We had four mini-workshop sessions addressing how we can build the market for collectors of contemporary craft. The results are published here. Lots of interesting stuff to absorb and digest, but it is noticeable that marketing features strongly in the section about what we should do, and building relationships (even, in one case, facilitated by sherry), comes over strongly in the 'what has worked' section.

Great to get together curators, makers, policy makers, agencies, collectors, directors and more to put out heads together and see what we can do.

The workshop results will feed into the future plans for the North West Craft Network so watch this space for the group's next steps.

Workshop 1
Ideas: practical to aspirational; general to specific

Do some research is needed into why the non-purchasing attendees of crafts fairs don't purchase.  They're obviously interested in craft, but could we investigate what is holding them back from buying?

Acknowledge snobbery
Getting craft from local makers on TV shows
Craft needs marketing
Craft Magazine on wrong shelf
Posters in public places
Cinema adverts
Get Art Schools to carry the ‘craft’ brand
We need to talk to brand and advertising and TV
Prada trusted brand – do we need a brand?
Have large brands advocate individual makers like they do with designers!!
Brand confidence
Raise awareness through a popular medium – Television – there’s too much cooking and baking!
More high profile personality to advocate
Use the word ‘Design’. Poor craft connotations are negative
Crafts mag off bottom shelf – should be with designer mags
How do we tap into brand led society
Grayson Perry – clear honest presentation
Sponsorship of craft exhibition by fashion design house

Show people it is not intimidating
Take time to talk to visitors
Talk about what you are wearing and what you buy
Wear what you buy
Communicate quality and craft stories to a wider audience (currently non-buyers)
Exhibit stories of why people craft (ordinary people)
Stress the ‘renaissance of quality’ in handmade items

Respect for makers
Communicate the crafters personality
Create aspirational pieces within my work
Be visible as a maker

Too few outlets for the region
Emphasis on degree/MA shows and further this to advocate and promote craft – free space
Taking craft to different levels by curating different shows and kinds of retail shows
Curate exhibition on a range of platforms
Have opportunities to bring related craft alongside Art/Craft exhibitions
New venues for new audience

Architects collaboration
Collaboration – bring in other institutions
Support each other and work to create opps!
Can galleries help? USA?
Networks – talk to people

Be an advocate for craft

Learn a craft yourself?
Direct engagement
Buy, buy, buy!

Curating exhibitions in a new way to attract new audiences
Promote work that is not only your taste
Seeing craft in different venues
When buying something from GNCCF, seller to give a card, saying something like ‘congratulations, you are now a collector’
Try to bring the fashionista’s market to craft
Mini craft shows with makers in office blocks

Stories of why people buy
Talks lectures – interior designers
Gallery: Talks and events for our public about craft
Re: Gallery Sector: Educate the public on the  levels of training and emotional input that makers put in
How to value time

Workshop 2

What has brought great engagement, sales or audiences?
What is your experience?

Positive attitude
Being engaging and likable
Being a good/nice person
Being approachable
Passion about your work
Authentic as a person – authentic work
Creating good work

Building a relationship with the customer
Building up relationships over time
You tell the story of the piece
Personal connection – hearing it straight from the maker
Sharing your story
Telling a story about my work – NOT sell the work
One on one conversation
Engaging with the audience – creates market
Never questioning my audience’s ability to understand or relate to my work
Want to be a friend of the maker/artist
Being there with your work and information the viewer

Social media
Digital portfolio
Website and marketing
Mailing list
New pieces of work promoted well.

Lecturing and demonstrations
Raising awareness of skill and creativity

Persistence – trying all avenues – not giving up
Repeating something – perseverance
Being visible and getting out there
Exposing friends to craft who wouldn’t normally buy craft

Exhibitions that are accessible
Get your work out there
Galleries are a barrier?
Finding the audience
Group exhibitions
Meeting the audience!
Gallery shop: Running events for people on our mailing list to come for private views to buy craft
Finding the right audience for your work

Let people help you
Networks for makers for mutual support
Engagement with focused makers to get involved with

Showing craft in the gallery space, presented as wearable art. Art/Jewellery crossover
Exhibiting art and craft together. This is an important route to getting the considerable audience for "art" to cross-over  into critically engaged "craft".
New events, fresh ideas for events, unusual locations
Immerse yourself in the commercial world
Public collections - allow public PR: open interpretation

Mentoring (both as mentor and mentee) appropriate to your stage of career

Endorsement by major galleries e.g. exhibitions

Do we have to differentiate between buyers and collectors?

Sherry for customers
Friends groups and patron groups
Showing that they are buying local

Workshop 3

Be a proactive maker

The value of buying something original
Enrichment of life

Talk to people and share my knowledge and experience
15 years of experience
Time and conversation at shows

Meet up to set up group
Build confidence of collectors as strong-minded independent thinkers

Opportunities for makers to meet potential customers
A platform for artists/makers and public to come together
Exhibitions – the opportunity to bring audiences and buyers together through events
Galleries could obviously offer shows and artists workshops and talks
Space in gallery shops and display cases
Open days where makers are there to speak through work at galleries
Curated and promoted contemporary shows to promote contemporary craft
Exhibition space

Using social media to promote contemporary craft
Shared mailing list clients
Share mailing lists Northwest

Workshop 4

Positive energy
Makers to be amazing self publicists (like Louise!)

Radio /TV presence
TV coverage showcasing workshops and makers
Strong digital audience

Making connections – more symposiums – more talking encouraging others to meet and discuss – common passion
More association

Maker support

Access to collectors (to develop the market need to understand the current market)
Invading the commercial world
An audience that is interested
We need an audience

More time and resources!
A job that pays – more opps for curators
Arts Fund awareness
Other ways to generate income

As a fine art curator I need educating about craft
Talks about how a piece could change their like
Promote long terms benefits for collectors
Potential buyers to be educated
Lectures from makers open to the public

Opportunities to connect with makers
More events in the NW
A secondary market
To support and promote for contemporary craft
Collectors group – share work
Open studios/meet the maker/local

Sale Arts Trail Christmas Bazaar

Sunday 23rd November 2014 12-7pm

Another brilliant opportunity to get a craft fix and buy an authentic handmade gift - Sale Arts Trail Christmas Bazaar opens this weekend. There are plenty of new & established makers presenting their work

Follow this link to Facebook to find out more

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Christmas Shopping launch at Manchester Craft and Design Centre

What if we all brought authentic, handcrafted gifts by talented North West makers this Christmas? The world - and certainly the North West - may well be a better place!  What's more, it's all laid on for us by wonderful people such as Manchester Craft and Design Centre.

They invite you to join them at Manchester Craft & Design Centre on 22 November, 2-5pm for the start of their Christmas season.

They've got the always-amazing Northern Quarter Boys Choir providing a festive backdrop of carols and feel-good tunes, free mulled wine & mince pies, a craft activity for all ages and seasonal specials at Oak St. Café.

Mmmmmmm. What's not to love?

Manchester Craft and Design Centre is a member of the North West Craft Network

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Jerwood Makers Open comes to Gallery Oldham!

15 November 2014 - 1 March 2015
Elemental Symmetries by Shelley James

November sees Gallery Oldham give a warm North West welcome to a touring show of cutting-edge craft.

The annual Jerwood Makers Open is a major commission that gives early career artists £7,500 each to develop new work and take artistic risks. Chosen from over 240 applications, the selected makers not only include two collaborative duos – the first time in the award’s four year history – but also offer a range of projects across different disciplinary backgrounds, from architecture and spatial design to more traditional craft-based skills in ceramics and glass.

This year the artists selected are ceramicists Hitomi Hosono and Matthew Raw, artists Revital Cohen and Tuur Van Balen, glass artist Shelley James and spatial storytellers FleaFollyArchitects.  Each has taken the opportunity to develop new ideas central to their individual practices. Between them they are experimenting with material, technical, conceptual and narrative concerns.  From a modern day Tower of Babel to a full sized pub front the result is a fascinating and varied exhibition by makers pushing the boundaries of their craft.

For more about the artists, click here
For visiting information about Gallery Oldham click here

Gallery Oldham is a member of the North West Craft Network