Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Peter Dormer is dead but

long live Peter Dormer.

In 1994 Dormer published The Art of the Maker. It was derived from his PhD research at RCA. It is idiosyncratic, at times rhetorical, and brilliant. In many ways, it was a rallying call already a decade too late as craft makers flocked to the promised lands of Art. Writing in a Britain coquettishly engaging with New Europe, yet sagging under the strain of years of conservative rule, Dormer was not calling for a nostalgic return to evening carving classes and embroidered footstools, but insisting that the devaluing of craft skill in the plastic arts was Not a Terribly Good Idea.

Re-reading it at the moment, I was more than a bit shocked to discover that it is currently out of press and worse still, this small paperback is now selling for upward of $130 secondhand online. Thames and Hudson, you need to re-release this book. Particularly given the attention Richard Sennett has received for his publication The Craftsman (oh look it's gender specific - gosh) which I read, frowning. Lent to a friend who also frowned, and after a couple of glasses of a suitably emboldening NZ sauv blanc, we decided that a. Sennett had not actually MADE anything in his life, and b. the jacket design on the Penguin paperback was rather good. (Glenn Adamson was even less impressed as per his review in Design and Culture - I don't think he even liked the jacket)

But this quick post has been prompted by hunting for something on the Object website, and becoming as I often am, just a little irritated by its unnecessarily clever website which is rather fiddly to navigate. And whilst being irritated by the homepage, suddenly noting that while the website title is showing on my Firefox tab as Australian Centre for Craft and Design, the word craft was noticeably missing, missing until I had done the fiddly navigating thing down to the entry on Craft + Design Enquiry, quickly abbreviated to CDE.

The practice that dare not speak its name?

Are we so brand obsessed, so convinced that audiences, the public, people out there can't make a distinction between the craft of crocheted toilet roll covers (which in the right creative hands...) and the craft of Oliver Smith? If words may indeed break our bones, then all the more reason why we all need to carry a copy of Dormer's The Art of the Maker to bat them away.

No comments:

Post a Comment