JERWOOD CONTEMPORARY MAKERS

JERWOOD CONTEMPORARY MAKERS
March 5, 2011 Clementina
I NEVER REALLY KNEW HER

I have just returned to London from Ireland where I visited the
Jerwood Contemporary Makers Exhibition at the Crafts Council Gallery in Kilkenny.

The above piece by Emma Woffenden I found very powerful.

Also most poignant is the text of the catalogue by Jeanette Winterson which follows here:

The
Making
Game
The most satisfying thing a human being can do – and the sexiest – is
to make something.
Life is about relationship – to each other – and to the material world.
Making something is a relationship.
The verb is the clue. We make love, we make babies, we make
dinner, we make sense, we make a difference, we make it up, we
make it new…
True, we sometimes make a mess, but creativity never was a
factory finish.
The wrestle with material isn’t about subduing; it is about making a
third thing that didn’t exist before. The raw material was there, and
you were there, but the relationship that happens between maker
and material allows the finished piece to be what it is. And that
allows a further relationship to develop between the piece and the
viewer or the buyer.
Both relationships are in every way different from mass production
or store bought objects that, however useful, are dead on
arrival. Anyone who makes something finds its life, whether it’s
Michelangelo releasing David from twenty tons of Carrara marble,
or potter Jane Cox spinning me a plate using the power of her
shoulders, the sureness of her hands, the concentration of her mind.
I have a set of silverware made by an eighteenth century
silverworker called Hester Bateman, one of the very few women
working in flatware at that time. When I eat with her spoons, I feel
the work and the satisfaction that went into making them – the
handle and bowl are in equal balance – and I feel a part of time as
it really is – not chopped into little bits, but continuous. She made
this beautiful thing, it’s still here, and I am here too, writing my
books, eating my soup, two women making things across time. I feel
connection, respect, delight. And it is just a spoon…
But the thing about craft, about the making of everyday objects
that we can have around us, about the making of objects that are
beautiful and/or useful, is that our everyday life is enriched.
How is it enriched? To make something is to be both conscious and
concentrated – it is a fully alert state, but not one of anxious hyper-
arousal. We all know the flow we feel when we are absorbed in what
we do. I find that by having a few things around me that have been
made by someone’s hand and eye and imagination working together,
I am prevented from passing through my daily life in a kind of blur.
I have to notice what is in front of me – the table, the vase, the hand-
blocked curtains, the thumb prints in the sculpture, the lettering
block. I have some lamps made by Marianna Kennedy, and what I
switch on is not a bulb on a stem; it is her sense of light.
So I am in relationship to the object and in relationship to the maker.
This allows me to escape from the anonymity and clutter of the
way we live now. Instead of surrounding myself with lots of things
I hardly notice, I have a few things that also seem to notice me. No
doubt this is a fantasy – but…
The life of objects is a strange one.
A maker creates something like a fossil record. She or he is
imprinted in the piece. We know that energy is never lost, only that
it changes its form, and it seems to me that the maker shape-shifts
her/himself into the object. That is why it remains a living thing.
Of course it is possible to design an object that will be made by
others – but that is an extension of the creative relationship, not its
antithesis. It is the ceaseless reproduction of meaningless objects
that kills creativity for all of us, as producers and consumers.
But are producers and consumers who we want to be?
To make is to do. It is an active verb. Creativity is present in every
child ever born. Kids love making things. There are different doses
and dilutions of creativity, and the force is much stronger in some
than in others – but it is there for all of us, and should never have
been separated off from life into art.
I would like to live in a creative continuum that runs from the child’s
drawing on the fridge to Lucien Freud, from the coffee cups made
by a young ceramicist to Grayson Perry’s pots.
We don’t need to agonise over the boundaries between ‘art’
and ‘craft’, any more than we should be separating art and life.
The boundary is between the creative exuberance of being
human, and the monotony of an existence dependent on mass
production – objects, food, values, aspirations.
Making is personal.
Making is shared.
Making is a celebration of who we are.
Jeanette Winterson
16 June to 25 July
Jerwood Space
Jerwood Contemporary MakersThe
Making
Game
The most satisfying thing a human being can do – and the sexiest – is
to make something.
Life is about relationship – to each other – and to the material world.
Making something is a relationship.
The verb is the clue. We make love, we make babies, we make
dinner, we make sense, we make a difference, we make it up, we
make it new…
True, we sometimes make a mess, but creativity never was a
factory finish.
The wrestle with material isn’t about subduing; it is about making a
third thing that didn’t exist before. The raw material was there, and
you were there, but the relationship that happens between maker
and material allows the finished piece to be what it is. And that
allows a further relationship to develop between the piece and the
viewer or the buyer.
Both relationships are in every way different from mass production
or store bought objects that, however useful, are dead on
arrival. Anyone who makes something finds its life, whether it’s
Michelangelo releasing David from twenty tons of Carrara marble,
or potter Jane Cox spinning me a plate using the power of her
shoulders, the sureness of her hands, the concentration of her mind.
I have a set of silverware made by an eighteenth century
silverworker called Hester Bateman, one of the very few women
working in flatware at that time. When I eat with her spoons, I feel
the work and the satisfaction that went into making them – the
handle and bowl are in equal balance – and I feel a part of time as
it really is – not chopped into little bits, but continuous. She made
this beautiful thing, it’s still here, and I am here too, writing my
books, eating my soup, two women making things across time. I feel
connection, respect, delight. And it is just a spoon…
But the thing about craft, about the making of everyday objects
that we can have around us, about the making of objects that are
beautiful and/or useful, is that our everyday life is enriched.
How is it enriched? To make something is to be both conscious and
concentrated – it is a fully alert state, but not one of anxious hyper-
arousal. We all know the flow we feel when we are absorbed in what
we do. I find that by having a few things around me that have been
made by someone’s hand and eye and imagination working together,
I am prevented from passing through my daily life in a kind of blur.
I have to notice what is in front of me – the table, the vase, the hand-
blocked curtains, the thumb prints in the sculpture, the lettering
block. I have some lamps made by Marianna Kennedy, and what I
switch on is not a bulb on a stem; it is her sense of light.
So I am in relationship to the object and in relationship to the maker.
This allows me to escape from the anonymity and clutter of the
way we live now. Instead of surrounding myself with lots of things
I hardly notice, I have a few things that also seem to notice me. No
doubt this is a fantasy – but…
The life of objects is a strange one.
A maker creates something like a fossil record. She or he is
imprinted in the piece. We know that energy is never lost, only that
it changes its form, and it seems to me that the maker shape-shifts
her/himself into the object. That is why it remains a living thing.
Of course it is possible to design an object that will be made by
others – but that is an extension of the creative relationship, not its
antithesis. It is the ceaseless reproduction of meaningless objects
that kills creativity for all of us, as producers and consumers.
But are producers and consumers who we want to be?
To make is to do. It is an active verb. Creativity is present in every
child ever born. Kids love making things. There are different doses
and dilutions of creativity, and the force is much stronger in some
than in others – but it is there for all of us, and should never have
been separated off from life into art.
I would like to live in a creative continuum that runs from the child’s
drawing on the fridge to Lucien Freud, from the coffee cups made
by a young ceramicist to Grayson Perry’s pots.
We don’t need to agonise over the boundaries between ‘art’
and ‘craft’, any more than we should be separating art and life.
The boundary is between the creative exuberance of being
human, and the monotony of an existence dependent on mass
production – objects, food, values, aspirations.
Making is personal.
Making is shared.
Making is a celebration of who we are.

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