Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Fantastic speech on the value of skill

Here are a few quotes from an important speech given the the Royal College of the Arts yesterday, I am so excited by it, much of it could be the Heritage Crafts Association manifesto, our message is clearly getting through.

"Show me a society where everyone has the opportunity and the desire to seek out new knowledge and new skills and I’ll show you a society that really deserves to be called “big”."

"In my view, the skills of a bricklayer are in no way less admirable and certainly no less hard-won than those of a stockbroker.

"When we look at something beautiful, it’s not just the object that we admire, but the skill that went into producing it. That’s why The Fighting Temeraire will always have more admirers than Marcel Duchamp’s urinal."

"My point is that admiration for skill, even when it doesn’t involve production of an object, is an integral part of our culture."

"Even a depressive and tubercular D H Lawrence found respite from contemplating man’s alienation from the modern world by applying practical skills. He once noted that:
“I got the blues thinking of the future, so I left off and made some marmalade. It's amazing how it cheers one up to shred oranges and scrub the floor”."

on NVQs
"For example, I don’t know how many of you could give us a comprehensible explanation of the difference between Level 3 and Level 4, and why it matters. I certainly know that most of the officials who administer the system couldn’t, and I doubt whether I could either."

"I look back to the Englishmen who first raised the standard of craft skill as a force in the modern world - to Morris and Ruskin, Rossetti and Burne-Jones – and I think it’s high time to create a new aesthetics of craft, indeed, a new Arts and Crafts movement, for Britain in the 21st century.

That won’t be done overnight. But I can announce today that we are making a start.

I am considering backing high quality in the craft traditions by lending the Government's support to a new award for excellence in the crafts. Details are at an early stage, but I think it is right that excellence should be rewarded and the Government will work over the next few months with those working to support the crafts, including the various charities under the Patronage of His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, to encourage and reward excellence in this area."

"I don’t wish to idealise manual labour but to understand its intrinsic worth.

The village blacksmith did not develop arms like iron bands by reading about how hard it is to swing a hammer in a book.

The price of the potter’s ability to throw a vase in one go was long hours of effort followed by failure, and several hundredweight of clay in the bin."

And this speech was given by John Hayes new Minister of State for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning read the full speech here

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