So I met this bloke, let's call him Mick, at a bar the other night who was a friend of a friend. And we had the pedestrian "what do you do?" conversation. Him "I'm a painter. And a trader and I do a little teaching". And I felt the thing that I always do when I meet a person that identifies themselves as an artist - I felt an impressed, kind of good-on-you respect. The question was then reciprocated. Me "I'm a parent mainly, but also a crafter, and I run a craft retreat". And he said "Oh". And the "Oh" had weight and a flat, falling intonation.
I was at the aforementioned bar with my very good friend Anna who helps run The Craft Sessions. Before we met Mick, we had been talking about the dividing line (or not) between art and craft, which as a conversation falls into the oldie but a goodie category.
At this point I want to say that I have no solid opinions, or conclusions, from the many conversations I have had over the years on this topic. Some people seem to be very clear on it. I'm still not. My brain gets in a tangle just thinking about it, which is why I find it so interesting. For example are Meg Callahan's quilts art? Or craft?
After Mick said his initial "Oh", I jumped on my small soap box (or on this occasion bar stool) and had a little bit of a rant. "See Anna, that is exactly what I am talking about. There is discrimination based on my mode of creative expression. There is a respect afforded to art that doesn't exist for craft, unless someone crafts for a living, and therefore calls themselves a craftsperson. Craft as a hobby has no respect."
I love this kind of discussion with Anna. She is so clever I know if I put my ideas out there, she will help me come up with better ones, and often prove me totally wrong ;). Smart as a whip she is.
Then Mick pipes up and says something along the lines of "well what do you make?". I say "mainly clothes", and he again says "Oh", with a similar intonation. Anna shows him a few of my photos on instagram and he says something along the lines of "Wow" and then " ….but in reality, it is a cardigan. What do you want? Are you asking for it to be called art?"
A valid question. And no, that is not what I am asking for. I guess I just feel a little frustration over the fact that the divide between Art and Craft sometimes seems to include such a large amount of snobbery. When my new friend Mick says he is a painter people assume he is doing something worthwhile. When I say I'm a crafter I feel people assume I make ill fitting jumpers in acrylic yarn. And maybe I'm being totally paranoid but I feel like there isn't yet an appreciation of just how skilled our crafting community is…. or how things have changed with the rise of the internet and the now global sharing of craft techniques and skills. In my opinion craft should be seen as an equally skilled and valid form of creative expression. And sometimes it's not.
I spoke to Anna the next morning and she said she had some clarified ideas for me which I can't wait to hear. Sadly we haven't found a moment to discuss it this week, so to continue the conversation I would totally love your opinions and thoughts on this topic.
Do you clearly define art and craft? Does it matter to you? Do you feel the art/craft divide? Or in your part of the world are they a seamless continuum? Do you think that I am totally wrong about the snobbery aspect and getting frustrated/paranoid over nothing? Anything else you want to bring up?
I really do learn something new from the comments with each post - and this is a topic I feel I never really get my head around. I can't wait to hear what you have to say.
PS. You are welcome to enter the giveaway of some of Kirsten's new Shibui patterns. Details in my last post. I've been loving all the suggestions so far - so thank you! I'll close the comments on Sunday night.