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MARCH/APRIL 1979

NEWSLETTER

LTD. Thomas Prior House, Merrion Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4 Telephone 01 680764

Crafts Council Growing Readers will be aware of the advertisements for a Crafts Officer for Crafts Council. Extra funds were made available this year for the employment of such a person and at the time of writing this is being implemented. As will be obvious from the job description, the extra staff is needed to help the Council to carry out its craft advisory programme and the programmes aimed at increasing public awareness. Both programmes are out of Management Committee deliberations and from the input from the Wexford Conference. What was particularly evident in the recommendations made at the Conference was the obvious desire for business advice among many craftsmen; for help in question of tax and VAT; on matters such as cash flow and even general business management. Another area of concern was that of communications— not only closer communication between the Council and the Associations and other members, but closer communication between the members themselves and, indeed, a series of co-operative activities linked with the Council's aims would seem to fit into this pattern. These activities can relate to the necessity to create a greater public awareness of good craftsmanship and add the factor of education and training necessary to ensure a continuing growth of better design and crafted products.

There is also the requirement of more qualified craftsmen, either individuals working from their own studios or others working for them, because the growth in demand, if it outstrips the

Teapot and bowls — Elizabeth Kelly capacity to produce, can only lead to a dropping of standards or a filling of the vacuum from outside the country. The potential for development is such that it cannot adequately be met by the existing staff of two, especially since it will involve much more work at field level, and demands in terms of planning, meetings, and the growing day to day activities reduce the time which can be spent away from base. A new Crafts Officer can enable the fulfilment of many plans to the continued advantage of the crafts sector as a whole and indeed to individual craftsmen.

AGM-April 25th An innovation to this year's AGM will be the invitation to representatives of the various organisations which are members of the Crafts Council to give a short (two minute) review of their specific craft activities during 1978. It is hoped that this will be valuable as a means of communication to each association what their colleagues have achieved in other areas.


Kyoto 1978Pat Connor When I came home it took me some time to unscramble the many encounters with a culture so different from the one I had left. I had tried, during the course of my brief visit, to take in as much as I could of their art and way of life, I had visited galleries, museums, visited workshops; I had spent a day in Shegaraki, whose origins stretch back nearly seven hundred years. Today well over half the valley's population is engaged in the production of pottery. I visited the many old climbing kilns still in use. The highlight of the visit was a gathering in the evening where we were given wheels and ten tons of prepared clay to play with. The villagers then entertained us royally with inexhaustible supplies of food and endless barrels of sake and dancing in the town square. I was finally persuaded by my Japanese host to make something on the wheel. Finally after one or two attempts and my new trousers covered in clay I was able to present him with a head which he promptly gave to his father to be fired in one of the large climbing kilns. What I took with me from Japan was a great warmth of feeling for the Japanese people. On every occasion that I remember, we were met by honesty and kindness and an inbuilt pride and confidence in the achievement of their fine culture. They take a great pride, it seems, in most of the things they do from the displays in shops in their eating houses and inns. It is now four months since the Eighth World Craft Council Conference in Kyoto, Japan's ancient capital. Kyoto is a city of crafts. Surrounded by mag­ nificent hills, reflecting the changing of the seasons, Kyoto has provided over the last twelve centuries a natural cradle for the art and culture of Japan and a spiritual home for the Japanese people. The city harbours many workshops of both traditional and contemporary crafts and is not only an old capital but also a . modern city anxious to develop a new culture based on traditions of the past. The site of the Conference included both the Kyoto International Conference Hall, located on Lake Takaragaike, north of the city, and four buildings within Okazaki Park at the foot of the eastern hills.

The Conference centered around the programmes of seventeen workshops and seminars. There were also a large number of conference related exhibitions in progress throughout the city. The workshops inlcuded ceramics, fiber, glass, metal, jewellery, wood/paper, bamboo, Urushi/lacquer, craft and museums, crafts and architecture, crafts and administration, crafts and industry, crafts and education, crafts and publishing, crafts and Ikebana (flower arrangement), crafts and Cha-no-yu (tea ceremony). Field trips to workshops and craft villages where one could mingle with craftsmen formed a delightful adjunct to the Conference. Here one could relax and enjoy mixing with craftsmen at work in the informal surroundings of their workshops. The theme of the Conference was 'The Craftsman in Industrialised Society: The Role of Handcraft.' Two thousand craftsmen from over seventy countries gathered to reflect on this point in a setting where the contrast between traditional handcraft methods and modern industrial technology is very plainly presented. It is not inappropriate then that Japan should have been chosen, and in particular Kyoto, as a backdrop to this Conference. For on the one hand, Japan is undoubtedly one of the most intensely developed indus­ trial societies in the world but on the other hand it is also a culture that incor­ porates and respects an unbroken active tradition of handcraft production. Kyoto's historical links with handcraft stretch back 1,200 years since its founding as the capital of Japan. The handcraft industry of today continues to carry con­ siderable weight as the mainstay of the regional economy. Apart from the formal sessions of the Conference and the busy workshops pro­ gramme, there was much informal exchange of ideas. What principally emerged was that the kind of problems confronted by the craftsmen here are by no means unique but are shared by colleagues all over the world. Craft work in general finds itself in an anomalous position in an increasingly technological age. The assembly line and computer evolve an implicit aesthetic of their own, and it tends to be an aesthetic based on cold reason and practical utility within the framework of minimal cost.

These sort of values fail to satisfy many people's sensitivities and needs and so there is an increased demand for hand crafted goods often, especially in Japan, inspired by nature and technology, but despite this the craftsman often finds that the ethic and organisation of the wider and mass-consuming society within which he lives and works tends to be unsympathetic to the way in which he operates and creates his products. It is interesting to note that the Japanese people at this point in time feel the need to protect their traditional crafts from the momentous changes both social and cultural brought about by rapid tech­ nological growth. The coldness of computer aesthetics need a counter­ point of man-made defects otherwise we could suffer the alienation of cold rationale—and perhaps the final alienation of man from his environment. The opportunity afforded the coming together of so many craftsmen gave one a base on which to judge our own pro­ gression. I did take back with me the feeling that our work here stands up favourably to craftsmen elsewhere. There is already the nucleus to produce a vital handcraft industry and a chance to share in the improving state of visual awareness we are undergoing in this country today.

One has only to look at the changes that have come about in the craft industries over the past ten years. The public here is at last making discerning demands on the craftsman thus allowing him to fulfil his role in the renovation of our culture.

R T E Craft Films Readers will be interested to know that David Shaw Smith, who filmed the very successful series "Hands" shown on RTE last year, continues making further films on the same craft theme for RTE. Swiss TV has bought all six of the original films and this overseas interest augurs well for the future.


Traditional Crafts- Slides of Your Asian Action Work, Please! In an article in the January Asian Newsletter, published by the Asian Secretariat of World Crafts Council, traditional handcrafts was discussed in the context of courses of action to identify and resurrect much that could be already dying out. The following excerpt will be of interest: "A factor to be borne in mind is that in handcrafts, designs are not normally divorced from the total production, but usually form an integral part of it, unlike in industrial production. For handicraft is a creation into which flows the inspiration and urge of the crafts足 man, who has to be involved in the total skilled part of the operation.

The training must aim at building up and maintaining a cadre of master craftsmen, capable of working with fresh imagination and excellence, and while maintaining the flavour of the ancient and the local environment, will nevertheless make crafts relevant in the current mainstream.

This does not imply a status quo. While the craftsman has absorbed the national tradition into his composition, out of this very source he is capable of creating something new and fresh to reflect the new environment and changes in life styles, provided he is not pressurised too much into repetitive operations under compulsion of large commercial orders. An objective evaluation of existing crafts in their totality is essential to plan out the future development programme. While it is recognised that application of some of the new technology appropriate to handicrafts would be beneficial, it is equally imperative that some of the traditional techniques, which have proved their excellence through the test of time, should be preserved and not lightly cast away for they obviously carry within them the seeds of life. They may need some rationalisation. Let us remind ourselves that tradition need not necessarily mean obscurantism, but can also be perpetuation of a pul足 sating creativity and therefore of civilisation. This principle should serve not only Asia but the rest of the craft world."

Crafts Council would welcome from any professional craftworkers, slides of their latest work so that these may be added to the slide library and used in the loan slide packs for lectures, publicity and other uses. Only first class slides will be accepted however. First class slides would be considered as those: 1. Correctly exposed for light and colour. 2. Correctly focussed. 3. Showing all of the work against a neutral background with no other matter. 4. Showing the work in such a way that its essential values can be appreciated. Slides sent in should be accompanied by name and address, brief description of the work and the material used.

Maskit Maskit is the Israeli craft organisation. Founded by Mrs Ruth Dayan, whom many Irish craft workers will have met at World Craft Council meetings, it was formed in 1954 as a Government company. The origins were in the immigrant settlements where craftsmen from over a hundred countries had been found to have brought with them native skills of carpet weaving, gold and silver work, pottery, glass blowing and many other techniques and talents based on generations of experience. These skills acquired in the Balkans, Persia, North Africa and other places as home indus足 tries might have disappeared without encouragement and the opportunity to make the group into the Israeli amalgam. Gradually an "Israeli" style of hand crafts began to emerge, based on these transported skills/crafts and influenced by the country's own historical back足 ground and landscape and the objects of archaelogical discovery, transforming the wealth of ideas into reality. Maskit (the word is from the Bible and means an ornament or thing of beauty that attracts the eye) specialised and gained a reputation for quality and taste, impeccable workmanship and the cherished asset of the handmade, individual and original production.

Contemporary Crafts Auction Believed to be the first time such an auction has been organised, Sotheby Park Bernet, one of the world's leading auction houses will conduct an auction of contemporary crafts on 4 April in New York. It is directed at the collectors clientele of this major auction house and between 25 and 40 recognised craft artists will be chosen to submit work. Starting bids are expected to range between 250 and 5,000 dollars. This innovation shows the increased attention being paid to contemporary crafts from serious collectors, and must reflect ultimately in recognition of the value of the work of artist craftsmen.

The enterprise as it grew developed eight workshop departments and specialises in fashion, fabrics, gold jewellery, silver jewellery, carpets, gifts, home furnishings and toys, where artisans could pursue their crafts under guidance and supervision and where design and marketing advice could be provided. Maskit now has a shop and showroom in Tel Aviv and other cities and towns in Israel as well as a showroom in New York.

Mrs Carmel Kenny of the West Clare Craft Shop at Lahinch has space available for a suitable craftworker to work during the summer. Enquiries direct to Mrs Kenny please.


AOOCLDOnATB )Msnmd©UJnE,P SPORT IN THE FINE ARTS The Seventh International Biennial Exhibition of Sport in the Fine Arts will be held in Barcelona in September 1979. This competition comprises seven sections: painting, sculpture, engraving, drawing, trophies and medals, tapestries and posters. The subject matter will be sport and physical activity in general within the wider range of expression and use of materials. Artists of any nationality may enter their works. The works will have to be delivered to Barcelona between 1 June and 20 July.

COUNCIL OF EUROPE EXAMINES ENDANGERED CRAFTS

ROYAL DUBLIN SOCIETY NATIONAL CRAFTS COMPETITION

That there is not only in this country concern for areas of crafts which are endangered by the traditional factors of industry and lack of ensuring that the expertise of living masters is trans­ mitted before it is too late is evident in the fact that the Council of Europe is actively discussing the matter.

Details of the Royal Dublin Society's National Crafts Competition have been announced. The Competition will be open to all craftworkers and designers in Ireland including students and apprentices.

While it is only at a discussion stage, nevertheless there is enough concern among other countries in Europe to be hopeful of agreed action being formul­ ated. Crafts Council is ready to co-operate in whatever action may be proposed and with whatever agencies in this country may be involved in its various aspects.

Everyone involved in the area of Prize money ranges from 250,000 pesetas to 30,000 pesetas, plus a "gran premio" o1 traditional crafts will hope that the deliberations of the Council of Europe 600,000 pesetas. will not be drawn out as the time for action is becoming shorter each dav Details from Crafts Council of Ireland.

DUNGUAIRE CASTLE SALLIES FOR SALE Mr Eddie Carry of Drumgill, Drumconrath, Navan, Co Meath has saved sallies for sale. These would be of the S. viminalis variety, and suitable for work which did not require very fine willow. The price per bundle has not been stated. Film maker David Shaw Smith recently filmed the narvesting of willow at Mr Carry's garden.

The Editor would welcome letters, news, comments and articles on any aspects of craft for publication. Good black and white photographs of individual pieces by craftsmen are always welcome also, not only for possible publication but also for archives and to comply with requests from newspapers to accompany articles on craft.

An upstairs room is available at Dunguaire Castle until the end of September at a small rent. Working craftsmen may be interested in this opportunity to make and sell to a captive market of 15/20,000 people expected to visit the Castle. Enquiries to Mr Tom Sheedy, telephone 061-61511.

EIGHT PER CENT INCREASE IN VISITORS Bord Failte announced in early January that the increase in visitors for 1979 is estimated at 8 per cent. If the increase in visitors is proportional to increased business, craftworkers and craft shops can expect a busy season.

Over £2,000 will be available in prize money. Further awards for work of outstanding merit will be the £500 Scholarship or Development Grant, the Crafts Council of Ireland Medal and the California Gold Medal, together with the Royal Dublin Society Certificates. The closing date for receiving entries will be Friday, 6 July 1979. The Competition will include the following classes: Embroidery, Enamelling, Stained Glass, Lace, Ceramics, Rod and Rush Work, Glass, Leatherwork, Metalwork, Gold, Silver, and Copper Work, Fabric Printing, Woodwork, Weaving, Rug Making, Batik, Basketry, Jewellery, Macrame, Pottery, Tapestry, Straw Work, Musical Instruments. All prize-winning works and other items of a good standard will be exhibited at the Royal Dublin Society's Arts and Crafts Stand in the Industries Hall during the Dublin Horse Show which will take place from Tuesday 7th to Saturday 11th August, 1979 inclusive. Details and entry forms available from: Betty Searson, Arts Administrator, Royal Dublin Society, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4. Telephone 680645 ext. 312.

POTTER WANTED IN ZAMBIA An experienced potter is being sought to be manager of a small workshop in Zambia. The person will be required to train others while working as a potter himself. For more details, contact: Anne Dardis of Guinnesses, telephone 753645.

CCI-newsletter-1979-19-March-April  

The potential for development is such that it cannot adequately be met by the existing staff of two, especially since it will involve much m...

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