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Craft Scotland - The C Word - Concept

“When I arrived at Craft Scotland, almost a year ago to the day, I realised very quickly that the contemporary craft sector in Scotland wanted to get involved with new and innovative projects, but a lack of another C word, namely confidence, was standing in the way.

Within the first few weeks I had spoken to over a hundred makers who were brilliantly talented, highly creative and ambitious for their futures. However, every conversation I had with them was about the long-debated question “What is Craft?” – a question asked time and time again in industry research. I had been in the sector three weeks and I was already frustrated and bored of the debate.

The makers, the galleries, the funders, and the administrative agencies who support the sector know what craft is. It's the potential buyers, the millions of people who flick past’ handcrafted Christmas’ programmes on television or walk past tourist shops proclaiming to sell unique handicrafts who need to know what contemporary craft is, and how it can change their lives.

Why has this happened? I believe that in many cases craft is marketed to those already in the know. Regular buyers and collectors are kept informed of what is happening in the sector, where they can go to buy and who is new to the scene. But what about the people who take risks with the type of music they buy or the theatre they see, but come Saturday afternoon are in a department store, buying mass produced, expensive items on the credit card? These people could be commissioning something stunning, unique, contemporary and crafted, by a crafter working and trying to make a living no more than a few miles away.

The final straw was when I read the transcripts from a recent consultation group where makers talked of, and I quote, ‘turning their back on The C Word’. Call me naïve, but I couldn't believe what I was reading. There I was, sitting in my office in Edinburgh worrying about my Grandma who had recently been diagnosed with cancer, the most vicious of C words. The world was hurtling towards a recession and the newspapers were full of two c words, credit and crunch. The only C Word that made me feel invigorated and energised was craft, and here were makers – crafters – talking of removing themselves from the connotations of it.

And that's when The C Word was born. Craft, contrary to popular belief or the tired and lacklustre marketing campaigns that so often surround it, is one of the most urgent of art forms. It demands attention - and from now on it's going to get it. We want to inject confidence into the sector, raise the profile of makers and their craft, and encourage the potential buyers to become craft supporters.

The contemporary craft sector has many faces – affordable and aspirational, functional and curatorial, a weekend shopping spree or an investment piece. However one thing remains the same – The C Word is most definitely craft.”

Emma Walker
Chief Executive
Craft Scotland
September 2009

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