Saturday, 6 March 2010

Mastercrafts with Monty Don BBC

Monty Don's Mastercrafts series is highlighting the skills involved in traditional crafts and bringing much needed attention. The Heritage Crafts Association  have been campaigning to promote and protect these crafts so we are delighted with the publicity. I blogged just before the start of the series when I was looking through the proofs of the book, at that stage I was rather wary about the competitive element in the program and frustrated at the shortness of the apprenticeships.

 Now having watched 3 programs (I have no tv but catch up on iplayer) I am a huge fan. I still much prefer the cooperative elements when the apprentices are working together and find the judging bit at the end a bit sad but if we overlook those we are left with a great program. Monty has a clear and honest appreciation of the depth of understanding, time and commitment that it takes to truly master these skills. What comes across is the dedication to the craft, the importance of feeling you are part of a living tradition and are doing the best possible job, but also the fact that you have to work hard and efficiently and fast if you are going to make a living. It is about training the body to do the job, when hammering a nail we see the end of the nail and feel the contact between hammer head and nail, our mind is no longer thinking about the hand holding the hammer handle, the tool has become an extension of the body.

My first blog of the year predicted 2010 would be a special year for traditional crafts. My first blog of 2009 was about the need for a traditional crafts organisation. These things are coming together now. Many people are I feel seeing these crafts as an important part of our cultural heritage and the idea that keeping the skills alive is more than backward looking romanticism, they should be recognised as being as much a part of our culture as our art galleries, museums and old buildings. The skills are much more difficult to preserve than an important art work since they only survive in the hands and mind of people and need to be passed on to each new generation. There is worthwhile work to be done and many people wishing to take on these skills. Our prime issue no is getting support for the mastercrafts people to help make it economically viable for them to pass on their skills. More discussion about these issues here.

The next stage for the Heritage Crafts Association is a forum at the V&A on 23rd March where representatives of many traditional crafts will come together to discuss the issues facing survival of their skills. Guy Maillinson and Don Barker the greenwoodworker and blacksmithfrom the series will be there along with representatives of many crafts. It will be interesting to hear what everyone has to say.

1 comment:

  1. ~I didn't think I would like the format but I have to say I'm hooked also. I think the fact that the participants generally don't become masters in the 6 weeks is rather heartening. To me a craft is something that takes time, patience, dedication and passion to master. Being a spinner I can't wait for next weeks weaving.