Adamson, G. 2013. The Invention of Craft. Bloomsbury ISBN 978-0-85785-066-9
Adamson is a cultural commentator with a background in Research and Curation both in Europe and USA. He was Head of Research at the V&A at the time he wrote this. In this work he argues that the notion of Craft is intrinsic to industrialization and that it is a modern concept. Craftspeople existed prior to the Industrial Revolution but it is only since the IR that it has been classed as a separate sphere of endeavour. He comments that the modern concept of ‘craft’ was under threat pre industialization by the development of the division of labour: workers making a part of an object rather than the object as a whole. He states that Modern Art criticism sees Craft as a supplement to the work of art: the frame around the painting and negates the ‘craft’ of making the art itself.
Houze, R 2016. New Mythologies in Design and Culture. Reading Signs and Symbols in the Visual Landscape. Bloomsbury Academic. ISBN: HB: 978-0-8578-5521-3
In the introduction to this book Professor Houze examines Roland Barthes’ seminal work Mythologies in a contemporary context. She starts by stating that the signs and symbols of the visual landscape are both practical tools and invitations to play. She continues that the concept of a visual landscape is peculiar to modernity and that it first emerged in Europe (and North America) in the early modern period when industrialisation brought with it the concept of advertising and the emergence of ‘styles’ of architecture and finishings, among others. This landscape is now much more cluttered with the advent of the Internet and globalisation but there is still a requirement to interpret its signs and symbols to understand the behaviours it influences: for example, what makes people want to buy ‘green’ products or a particular pair of trainers.
Rowley, S 1997. Craft & Contemporary Theory (Introduction) Allen & Unwin
ISBN 1 86448 313 X
Here Sue Rowley discusses a different debate to Art vs Craft. She states that Craft distinguishes itself from Trade as the Craft Practitioner makes judgements which reflect aesthetic values which in themselves are subject to processes of cultural change. She also states that Craft is often judged for its tactile qualities as well as its visual appeal. She writes that the idea of a ‘Craft Canon’ is problematic as craft is not one single, coherent bounded practice. However, Crafts do have values in common: materials might differ but themes run through all of them, such as the influence of modern techniques on the practice. She sees the importance for current practitioners to be aware of the legacy of their craft. She feels that the modern crafts person has a greater desire to communicate an idea to his or her audience than previous generations.
Buszek, M E. 2011. Editor, Extra/Ordinary: Craft and Contemporary Art (Introduction), Duke University Press, ISBN 9780822347392
This book takes a strong, political stance, and is interesting for that reason. It mentions many of the authors and themes I have already examined (Adamson, signs and symbols, for example) and gives them a Marxist interpretation. For example Buszek reads Craft as being used by artists throughout the modern period (i.e. Robert Rauschenberg 1955 ‘Quilt’) as a reaction to the elitism of modern art and a way towards looking at ‘common’ culture for inspiration. She sees craft as having ‘signs’ that fix Craft in the ‘real world’. She sees that contemporary artists who use craft in their work (Yinka Shonibare is an example of this) where the materials the artist uses are chosen because of the sociohistorical contexts they represent, rather than as a means of exploring the unique properties of the materials themselves. She therefore sees a big crossover between craft and conceptial art.
Jesnick, I 2016 Andamento: The First Ten Years themes, trends and variants. Andamento Volume 10 2016. British Association for Modern Mosaic ISSN 1752-5578
This article charts the history of British mosaic from the mid 19th Century to the present day. Interest in Mosaic in Britain coincided with the Great Exhibition of 1851 and the creation of the ‘British Valhalla’ in Kensington, which went on to become the V&A, where a mosaic school was founded. The Arts and Crafts movement from the 1880’s and its spread across Europe and North America as Art Nouveau (and the Sessionists) further ensured the popularity of mosaic. Since the 1970’s in Britain, mosaic has moved out of the Public Art Sphere and has moved in to private commission or community art, the latter being seen as a means of getting local people involved in making art for their area, either in schools or in neighbourhoods.
Sparrow, V. British Folk Art: The house that Jack built Exhibition Review. Dandelion Postgraduate arts journal and research network. Volume 5 Number 2 Spring 2015. Pub Birkbeck University of London.
This article is a critique of Tate Britain’s Exhibition of British Folk Art that was held in 2014. It is really useful on several levels as it acknowledges the significance of an institution such as the Tate hosting an exhibition of this type and discusses the significance of the move from Museum to Gallery. It questions whether this move sits comfortably outside the genre of Social History and also discusses why some of the pieces featured in the exhibition are so ‘now’ – echoing for example the popularity of Cath Kitson and programmes on television that have a homemaker focus such as Kirsty Allsop’s craft series. She references Clement Greenberg in her discussion of Folk Art and Kitsch and Walter Benjamin in her discussion of the importance of the Object. It also contains the first reference to ‘Boody Ware’ that I have come across in an academic journal.
This paper, was sited by Vicky Sparrow (see annotated bibliography). It examines Benjamin’s Theory of the Object in the Industrial Age. In his work pot-throwing and weaving appear as paradigms of authentic experience and the processes of memory. For Benjamin, it is important for the Craftsperson to leave a trace of his or herself on their piece pot to give the item authenticity – and therefore the craftsperson is ‘grasping hold ‘ of the world. He is, therefore, concerned that the shift towards industrialisation, when the use of the hands in the process of production is reduced, might impact on memory and experience. Benjamin believed that people understood history by holding objects that had a connection to the past and at the same time, glance at a utopian future age. He called this ‘practical remembering’.
Hunkin, T. 2011. Byzantium in the Home Counties. Andamento Volume 5, 2011. British Association for Modern Mosaic ISSN 1752-5578
Tessa Hunkin is a leading British Mosaic artist. This work examines why Mosaic came back into fashion in Britain in the 19th Century. She states that, with the exception of the Cosmatesque pavement in Westminster Abbey (13th Century) no mosaics were made in Britain after the Romans departed. She cites the 19th Century cultural nostalgia of the past and the belief in the potential for technological progress as reasons for the renewed interest and states that the latter was bewildering, so the former was used to ‘clothe the new world in comforting familiarity’. She cites the influence of John Ruskin with his writing about St Mark’s Basilica in Venice as a huge influence. She discusses the interpretation of the Byzantine Mosaics by the Victorian artists whose painting was still strongly influenced by the Renaissance Old Masters calling it ‘an uneasy but interesting combination of the Byzantine and the contemporary’.
Heide Zech is Senior Curator of the Rosalinde and Gilbert Collection at the V&A. Here she looks at the history of the women criminals who made the mosaic floors that cover the V&A, St Paul’s Cathedral and the Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green, amongst others. She uses 19th century reports and descriptions of the methods used so that other floors may also be identified to be what is known as ‘Opus Criminale’ to get a clearer idea of how much work was made in this way. This article provides a detailed summary of the mosaic techniques taught to the women, the materials they used and the formula used to decide how long it would take to make a floor (and presumably to make sure that the women were working hard enough). It provides a new angle in the discussion of Mosaic in Britiain in the late 19th Century.
Bentley, P and Drostle, G. 2013. What’s it going to take to advance Contemporary Mosaic? Mosaic Art Now, 20 April 2013 http://www.mosaicartnow.com/2013/04/whats-it-going-to-take-to-advance-contemporary-mosaic/
Paul Bentley and Gary Drostle are both members of BAMM and have held the position of Chair. This article covers their views as to why Tate Modern refuses to show Mosaic in their galleries. It is a very useful reference piece as it looks at many of the issues involved with Mosaic. Bentley argues that by hosting it’s annual conference in 2012 at the V&A, BAMM is actually agreeing with the Tate that Mosaic is confined to the ‘Decorative’ and is not ‘Art’. Gary Drostle, on the other hand, argues that the concept is more important than the medium and cites both Chuck Close (Emma) and Tony Cragg (Menschenmenge) as examples of this and uses the term ‘Visual Tessarae’ to describe their work. The discussion continues in the comments section with interesting contributions from other leading Mosaic artists such as Emma Biggs and Marcelo de Melo.
Bonaventura, P and Jones, A.2011. Editors Sculpture and Archaeology (Introduction). Ashgate Publishing Ltd, ISBN 9780754658313
This book looks at the relationship between Art and Archaeology. It discusses the subjects from a collaborative viewpoint as the book is the result of a conference where papers were presented by academics in both fields. The book discusses the mutual benefits. These include Artists finding inspiration in artefacts, archaeological sites and landscape. This further promotes the debate of when is an artefact an artwork? Artists also influence Archaeologists by ‘seeing things differently’ and thus lending the latter a different insight and possibly perspective, on their work, to give different readings to their research. This book reflects the growing interest of Artists in Archaeology as both source material and as a way of interpreting and presenting their work.
Vilches, F 2007. The art of archaeology: Mark Dion and his dig projects. Journal of Social Archaeology 06/2007 Volume 7, Issue 2. ISSN 1469-6053
This article discusses two ‘dig projects’ of American artist Mark Dion. This is a useful companion to the above book as it discusses Dion’s work in detail which is a good example of how art and archaeology can influence each other. The writer describes how Dion’s work resonates with some elements of postprocessualism (a movement in archaeological theory that emphasizes the subjectivity of archaeological interpretations). She describes how the artist critiques the classification systems used by archaeologists in their methodology by ‘borrowing’ them. She discusses the impact this approach has on the viewing audience in helping them interpret the work and relate it to their own historical identity. This article also highlights the differences in the two ‘dig projects’ with one being in London and the other in New England.
Sandling, T. 2016 London in Fragments a Mudlark’s Treasures. Pub Frances Lincoln Ltd. ISBN 978-0-7112-3787-2
Ted Sandling established the London Mudlarker community on Facebook, where mudlarkers can post photos of their finds for general discussion and identification. This book gives a background to the history of mudlarking and to some of his finds, including dates and origins. It is particularly useful to show to people who are unfamiliar with the concept of mudlarking as it gives an overview of what one might find on a day on the foreshore. He shows how the history of the Thames is the history of London and the objects he finds are an integral part of this.
Kenny, R, McMillan J and Myrone M. 2014. British Folk Art. Tate Publications Ltd. ISBN 978-1-84976-264-9
This is the catalogue that accompanied the Tate Britain exhibition of British Folk Art in 2014. It is a useful starting point for broad reading around the subject. It also contains images of the articles displayed and essays by the curators.
Biggs, E and Collings M 2009. Five Sisters. published by York Museums Trust.
This is the accompanying catalogue for the Five Sisters installation that Emma Biggs and Matthew Collings made in response to the Five Sisters Stained Glass Window in York Minster. The work was installed in the deconsecrated church of York St Mary’s. The mosaic was made out of medieval pottery shards that have been found in archaeological digs in and around York. This documents the background to the project, the making of the artwork and the artists’ responses to the process.