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MAY/JUNE 1980

NEWSLETTER

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

Comment We print a letter in this issue from Michele Hughes and Alison Erridge of Barrycar Design, writing as signatories to a request made by many participants at the National Crafts Trade Fair 1980 for the invitation of more export buyers to the 1981 Fair. They make their point and it has validity. The Council made its point in the original article in the March/April edition of this Newsletter and one of the arguments put forward for a cautious approach to the matter of exporting was that it would be better that some exhibitors realise their limitations and refuse an order, than to accept and make life difficult for their feliow craftsmen who may get tarred with the same brush of falling down on delivery.

Ceramic Bowl: Niall Harper

As we go to print, a letter to the Council from an export buyer points up the need for caution, and we quote: "We placed several orders with exhibitors all for delivery in April, one for May. To date we have received only one delivery which we collected ourselves. We wish to tell you this as we feel it is a complete waste of your time and our time and money bothering with the Fair when deliveries are not effected. Apart from this, it now leaves us short of stock for the present season which, for us, started in May. We would further add that not one of these suppliers has contacted us to tell us of the delay." Now, while Ballycar and, no doubt, many others may be meticulous in their performance and can cope with exporting, the experience of the export buyer who has taken the trouble to write about it is salutory. What of those who have not written and will not come again.

Miniature Rush work: Joan Norman


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Left to right: Mr Simon Healy, Athlone RTC; Miss B Searson, Hon. Secretary, Crafts Council; Mr H Milling, Managing Director, Gentex (1974) Ltd; Miss B Reddin, Chairman, Crafts Council; Dr D F Fenton, Principal; Athlone RTC; and Mrs M Armstrong, Athlone RTC.

Exhibition in Athlone The Crafts Council's Travelling Exhibition opened at the Regional Technical College, Athlone, on 19 May and, during its stay, was seen not only by the people of Athlone but also by parties of school-children, organised for the occasion. Included in the Exhibition were works by Brian Clarke, Lilly Kannor and Mary Gray (jewellery); Niall Harper, Jane Forrister and Fiona Heaney (ceramics); Helena Zak, Annie Dibble and Jennifer Wright (textiles); Joan Norman and Mary Landy (rushwork); and Patricia Duignan (patchwork). The Exhibition was opened by Dr D F Fenton, the Principal of the College, and Miss Blanaid Reddin, Chairman of the Crafts Council, and Miss Betty Searson, Honorary Secretary, were present.

Handblown glass bowl Keith Leadbetter


No VAT concessions for crafts The March/April issue of the Newsletter carried a leading article on V A T and crafts. In particular, it commented on the effect of the increase from 20 per cent to 25 per cent of the V A T on crafts in the last budget. In the article it was mentioned that the Crafts Council was making representations and suggestions to the appropriate Minister of State to use his good offices in making the case to his colleague, the Minister for Finance, for either no increase or even a reduction.

that "under a general sales tax such as V A T , it would not be equitable or operationally possible to grant relief to particular goods by reference to the circumstances of particular producers or to their particular methods of production, and any such relief would have to apply to imports as well as domestic products; tax relief on the basis of product-type could undermine the base of the standard V A T rate with inherent serious budgetary implications.'

The Minister, after the fullest con足 sideration, has not been able to agree to concessions which would reduce or remove V A T on handcraft products.

To enable a clearcut distinction to be made to the advantage of hand craft足 workers, it was suggested that the Council would maintain a register of bona fide hand craftsmen, but it was considered that " i t would not be practicable to introduce a registration threshold for handcraft products which would represent an exception to the general V A T registration provisions."

The reasons given reflect the approaches the Council suggested and, as can be seen, the making of exceptions for the hand足 craft sector is not seen as possible. There are obvious administrative difficulties vis-a-vis similar manufactured products, but the main stumbling block seems to be the Sixth Directive of the EEC, relating to V A T , under which no new zero ratings can be introduced. This Directive "precludes the introduction of new V A T zero ratings and does not provide for the use of the V A T system to discriminate in favour of handcraft products as against goods of the same type produced by other means."

The more obvious means of reducing the effect of V A T in the Craft Sector have thus been found in conflict with the principle of equity. This does not, however, preclude the Council from pursuing other proposals which might help to alleviate the burden which the 25 per cent V A T places on their products.

The Northern Ireland Arts Council has awarded a Research Fellowship to Miss Anne Montgomery to examine provision for crafts in Northern Ireland. She will examine, in the six month period of the Fellowship, the need for a comprehensive index of craftsmen in Northern Ireland, as well as preparing a report on the basis of her interviews /vith craftsmen and officials of organisations related to or dealing with crafts. The report will examine also such matters as the use of facilities available elsewhere by Northern Ireland craftsmen. Miss Montgomery is a graduate of Belfast College of Art & Design and of the University of Manchester. She has lectured in textiles at the Art & Design Centre in Belfast since 1977 and also .vorks as a freelance artist/craftsman.

A special award of 贈200 was made by the IDA to Kevin O'Callaghan of Glanmire, Co Cork, earlier this month, as the student who has shown the most promise in the first year of a violinmaking course introduced, last year, at the Cork School of Music. The craftsman conducting the course is William I Patterson who, it will be remembered, was a winner of the Crafts Council of Ireland's Silver Medal at the RDS National Crafts Competition in 1977. The course assessor, Mr Peter Sermon of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, supported the view that the course will have the effect of establishing this particular craft as an addition to the other musical instruments being made here at present. Mr John Toher, Assistant Regional Manager of the IDA, made the presentation and the Lord Mayor of Cork was present, as was Miss Brigid Doolin, Director of the Cove School of Music whose brainchild the course was.

Northern Ireland Crafts The 1980 edition of the booklet on craft and craftsmen in Northern Ireland produced by the Local Enterprise Development Unit lists 160 craftsmen and women.

It had been hoped that relief could be given on the basis of handcraft versus manufacture but on this the decision was

N.I.Craft Research

Violin Making Award

New Bord Failte Visitor Purchases Showroom Craftsmen who have used the valuable retail contact facilities offered by Bord Failte, through Miss Blanaid Reddin's department, will be glad to know that new premises have been acquired to accommodate the office and showroom. The new office is at 12 Herbert Street which is between Baggot Street and Lower Mount Street and it is clearly a sign of the importance which Bord Faiite attaches to the service. To craftsmen, it is of considerable value to have their samples available on show throughout the year in one place where retail and, indeed, overseas buyers can see a wide selection of potential stock.

A wide range of crafts, both traditional and contemporary, and of craftsmen as individuals or small companies, are featured in a well designed and informative publication, with names, addresses, photographs and descriptive copy as well as a useful index. Copies can be obtained f r o m : L E D U , Lamont House, Rudy's Lane, Newtownbreda, Belfast, Northern Ireland.


Cultural Charter for Europe? In October 1978, the European Ministers responsible for cultural affairs, adopted a Resolution which would lead towards a European Cultural Charter. One of the contributors to the preliminary work, Denis de Rougemont, sums up his paper with suggestions for the sort of Charter he would like to see and his thinking will be of interest to readers: Suggestions for the Charter 1

The first articles should state: — the obligatory nature of the under­ takings made by governments relating to culture, and the fact that these obligations will prevail over "national sovereignties" in the areas defined by the Charter; — that in the European tradition, freedom consists of man's exercise of the fundamental rights he possesses as an individual; the state can neither give nor withhold these rights, but must serve and improve them; — that governments can only help culture by removing the legal obstacles or vested interests hindering its free development, i.e. the freedom of expression of culture's creators and holders, or by granting material resources where they are required; — that, as a rule, guarantees and subsidies granted to culture must have priority over aids to the economy, as the latter owes the secrets of its development to the former. One of the opening articles should stress that European culture is older, precedes and transcends all the "national" divisons of present day Europe. School must constantly stress this elementary truth, refrain altogether from cultural nationalism and take every opportunity to show that culture in each of our countries has always lived on major currents and schools of thought spanning the entire continent, regard­ less of national frontiers, which in any case have changed constantly over the centuries. (A good third of the present European nation-States did not exist before 1919: did they therefore have no culture? ).

Each of our States will guarantee with­ out any restrictions the free movement

of ideas, publications and works of art throughout Europe. Pretending to "organise exchanges" means, on the one hand, recognising that the State remains free to raise or remove arbitrary barriers to the normal movement of ideas, persons and work and, on the other hand, almost auto­ matically favouring those exchanges which cause no trouble and embarrass­ ment to anyone, those which are the least creative or innovative, those which frighten officialdom least, those which, in a nutshell, are per se official. It is in this way that a people is represented abroad preferably by second-raters. If exchanges are to become what they have always been in periods of cultural vitality—exchanges of new discoveries, original products, avid curiosities, authentic expressions of sensitivity or even passion, and not merely move­ ments of egg-heads, we must: — abandon and, if need be, denounce the practice of "organising exchanges"; — demand the immediate removal of barriers to the free movement of individuals, works and working instruments throughout Europe.

Each of our States will guarantee the right to information, i.e. every citizen's right to know the hard facts of current events independently of official interpretations and commen­ taries, and of pressures of any kind. This will involve having private radio and TV transmitters, which will be subject to special legislation to prevent the broadcasting of false news, slanderous information, etc.

IV The Charter should commit each European government to guarantee the universities complete independence from the State and from political pressures. Mobility of students and staff, equivalence of qualifications and the right of graduates of any European university to exercise the liberal professions (effectus civilis) must also be established and guaranteed through bilateral or multilateral agree­ ments.

V The aim of teaching (primary, secondary and higher education, vocational schools, technical schools, arts and crafts . . .) must be both initiation into existing knowledge and preparation of the student for taking personal initiative and for exercising his freedom as a responsible person and citizen who is independent yet part of the community.

VI The teaching of history must be preserved from national mythologies and restored to a proper European perspective, since the main obstacles to European union lie not in the facts, but in minds which have been led astray by the history books of their youth. Here inspiration should be taken from the work of the Brunswick Institute and several committees of historians who, immediately after the second world war, dealt with revising textbooks in order to harmonise them from the general standpoint of European cultural unity and to bring out the fundamental community rather than the national rivalries between Europeans. VII Our governments must pledge to support all scientific research tending to promote life and not its destruction, i.e. peace and not war. Of course, it would not be the task of governments or their experts to judge this, but that of national councils whose members would be independent of both State and industry and would be chosen amongst scientists, biologists, ecologists, economists, philosophers and theologians. These national councils would submit opinions to the State. Council of Europe News Report


SFADCO Crafts Booklet

Exports Letter Sir, As this partnership, Ballycar Design, signed the plea for more overseas buyers at the RDS Trade Fair, perhaps we may be allowed to reply to your Newsletter article. Craftworkers usually aim to offer a range of items for sale, of varying prices, demanding varying degrees and types of skill and often giving slightly varying profit margins to the craftsman. They hope to achieve a balance of production so that all their skills, equipment and materials are kept in use. It is in their interests, therefore, to seek buyers who will help them to achieve this balance. Time does not stand still for the designer craftsman. Skills develop. Interests grow and wane. Materials, shapes, proportions, colours, textures are subject to the general tides of fashion and progress and the personal design evolution of each individual worker. Change is inevitable. New ideas must be initiated and launched on to the market. The craftsman, therefore, looks both for a balance of orders and for buyers of initiative who are also looking for new products or treatments and who may even encourage the craftsman to branch out further. The experience of our business is that continental buyers are more aware of new trends and ideas and also have a clearer impression of the image that they wish their shop to project than all but the very best Irish buyers. For us, the very best Irish buyers are few in number and unfortunately many of them cluster along the same stretches of coast. We cannot, therefore, deal with more than a few of them as it is not in our interests or theirs for our work to be seen in every outlet in any area and certainly not every outlet in Ireland. We try not to sell similar work to adjacent shops; a policy which is neither simple nor wholly successful. We would like to •restrict our output to some dozen, wellscattered shops who promote and display our products well, and who can ' reach the type of public who will appreciate and buy the work. This year, if we rely entirely on wholesale sales, we would have to sell about £1,500 worth of goods to each of the dozen to pay material and workshops costs and make a marginal living. It cannot be done. If, therefore, we sell willy-nilly to every shop most of them will want

only the low cost, low profit margin items, we will alienate our other customers and force ourselves on to a treadmill of sterile, semi-craft production rather than a balanced programme of craftwork. Looking outward is no crime. Exporting more is a better reaction to the cheap import threat than trying to cut our prices in order to compete. The crippling V A T on crafts in Ireland often deters the continental visitor; the same goods, exported and sold with their own V A T added will often be cheaper and may appeal to them at home. Our own experience with exporting so far is that most of the pitfalls lie in the Westward direction (the single orders leading nowhere, lack of contact with the buyers, delays over payment, and pressure to produce in idioms and colours which are natural to the crafts­ man). Our continental buyers, on the other hand, have always made a personal contact and are at great pains to explain exactly what they like and don't like in the fields in which they are ordering. Their trade is not seasonal but spread through the year in a fairly even balance. The fresh air, country living image of Ireland now common in French and German magazines may not be any more real than the sentimental exile outlook of the ethnic shops of North America but it allows the craftsman working within its limits to produce more honest, personal work, often of a higher quality. When " c r a f t s " are discussed or written about, we often find that the only craft discussed is really pottery or, at best, other three-dimensional forms. (We formed part of a team of 'footwatching' textile craftsmen at the RDS Trade Show. Only female feet slow down at a textile stand. Male feet hang back—"with the wife"—or scurry past. The same feet are planted firmly opposite the pottery stands. There are no real exporting problems with textiles. We can get £500 worth of goods into two quite small parcels. Each will have the copy invoice or delivery note the client requires. Slap on a customs declaration. Post off and separate invoice. No problem. The problem of payment, we find, lies at home. Our continental buyers—we have three, not thousands, would that we had more! - p a y on the dot. Their cheques come with notes that say " H e l l o " or "Thank y o u " or both. Often

Shannon Free Airport Development Company has recently published a very comprehensive guide to the crafts and craft-based small industry in their area of responsibility, called "Crafts in Ireland Mid-West." It is well illustrated with black and white photographs, gives all the details one would require about each enterprise and is excellently bound. The cover photograph is of the showroom in Ballycasey House, Shannon, which is itself worth seeing.

a compliment, often a re-order. Our Irish buyers are neither uniformly bad nor good payers but bad predominate These make no effort to observe our trading terms. We have sat through lectures on professionalism, efficiency, and business-like approach by representatives of the very semi-State bodies who constitute by far our worst payers. We think it is time to fight back. We think, if given the choice, we have a right to search for the best buyers, whether foreign or native. If what we, and other signatories, are saying is that the native buyers must improve their standards and efficiency and compete with the overseas buyers, this must, in the long run, be best for the crafts in general. The arguments to the craftsman have been " i f you are not a good designer and/or a good businessman, you will not survive." Is not the plea for more over­ seas buyers saying " i f the native buyer is not both a selective buyer and a prompt payer they should not survive! " Craftsmen have passively endured so much advice and criticism lately and said so little that their ability to analyse and react intelligently may have been underestimated. Why not a small hooray for initiative? Alison Erridge Michele Hughes


WCC Ninth International Conference The World Crafts Council General Assembly will meet in Vienna on 25 July 1980, marking the beginning of WCC's Ninth International Conference. On Sunday, 27 July, the opening ceremony will take place, followed by the key note address by Professor Max Bill. Under the theme, Crafts Tomorrow, the Conference will attempt to draw guide­ lines for the future development of the crafts as a cultural, economic and social asset to modern society. It is not surprising that in recent years, significant elements of change have attracted the attention of artists and craftspeople from all over the world, not only in industrially oriented areas, but also in the so-called developing countries. In a world in which both old and new conflicts of interest will undoubtedly influence the position of the crafts in the future, it seems only appropriate that WCC should develop its concern for this future. In an effort to learn more about these elements of change, and in order to draw the right conclusions, WCC will try, during the Vienna Conference, to further the exchange of ideas and experiences

New Zealand Tax Crisis Good news has come from the crafts people of New Zealand who have finally been successful in their efforts to persuade the government to relieve the crippling sales taxes imposed on much of their crafts over the years. In early November, it was announced that a $50,000 annual exemption from all sales taxes for all craftspeople would go into effect. This action was due largely to the energy and persistence of crafts­ people and crafts-involved people all over New Zealand.

School Crafts Competition Galway Craftworkers Association ran a very successful crafts competition for schools in the Galway area and the exhibition of these, heid in St Patrick's School, was attended by the Minister, Mrs Marie Geoghegan Quinn, and the Mayor of Galway, Alderman M O hUiginn, both introduced by the Chairman of the Galway Craftworkers, Mr Sean McLoughlin.

through the many international contacts that will be made. In this manner, it hopes to help participants and member societies to learn more from each other, to increase their knowledge and to find common ground in various spheres of interest. WCC will, through the Conference, attempt to clarify the position and role of the creative crafts in the future. In a world where the real needs of the people seem to be expanding into completely new dimensions, the "intelligence of the hand"- for better or for worse—will undoubtedly influence our environment and its inhabitants. Being an organisation of organisations, WCC must not only attempt to cultivate the limited energies and resources at its direct disposal, but must also try to act as a focal point and international clearing house for visions, ideas, experiences and actions in the creative crafts—activities on which WCC will have to concentrate in the future more than ever. The WCC Conference in Vienna provides an excellent international platform for study and discussion of the creative crafts as elements of continuation in the development of the society of the future. Professor Carl Aubock

Rush and Basketry School The Clare Craftworkers Association is hoping to organise two training courses in Rush Work and Hedgerow Basketry, to be held at Bunratty, Co Clare in November I980. The primary aim is to re-establish these country crafts in the area, using readily available native materials. But the school will also accept serious students from other parts of Ireland. In an effort to compile a varied and interesting programme in addition to the regular daily tuition, the Association is searching for expert speakers and demonstrators, collections of photo­ graphs, films or items for exhibit and would welcome any suggestions which would help to cover the subject in the most thorough and expert manner. At present, plans are fairly flexible and any suggestions will be considered.

A New Association On 21 May, in the Longford Arms Hotel, a meeting was held to consider a draft constitution for a new craftworkers association. This association will be concerned with the needs and welfare of skilled craftworkers in the counties of Roscommon, Longford and Leitrim. The intention of the new group is to be involved in joint marketing ventures, joint purchasing and, of course, affiliation with the Crafts Council of Ireland.

North Tipperary Craftworkers Exhibition Nenagh will again be the venue for the second annual exhibition by the North Tipperary Craftworkers Association on 28 and 29 June. It will be remembered that this Association's first exhibition was a considerable success and it will be of interest to see how the members have developed during the year, and to note new and promising craftworkers.

Kerry Lamb and Wool Festival The Kerry Lamb and Wool Festival, Sneem (31 May/2 June), widened its horizons by linking in with crafts this year and an open invitation was extended by the Festival Chairman to all craftsmen to come to Sneem to demonstrate their craft and, of course, to see their products. Individual workshops were set up in local houses and other venues. As with all open invitations of this sort, the response was a mixed bag and the danger as always with this sort of venture is of standards being the least consideration, with the result that the image of crafts projected is not necessarily that of fine design and workmanship but rather more that which can be sold readily in a festival atmosphere. The organisers have the best intentions and indicate the interest there is in crafts but, without some form of jury system, much that is bad in crafts gets by.

CCI-newsletter-1980-26-May-June  

We print a letter in this issue from Michele Hughes and Alison Erridge of Barrycar Design, writing as signatories to a request made by many...

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