Let's start with Craftivism. A new word coined in 2003 by Betsy Greer Craft + Activism = Craftivism
This is part of Betsy's Craftivist manifesto "Craftivism is the practice of engaged creativity, especially regarding political or social causes. By using their creative energy to help make the world a better place, craftivists help bring about positive change via personalized activism."
I wholeheartedly support her work and think the craftivist movement is great. It has grown rapidly particularly using traditionally feminine crafts like knitting and crochet reinvented as yarnbombing to give a more edgy 21st century meaning.
knit the city Who are a bunch of friends that get together to knit stuff, stick it on things in public then run away giggling.
"We are unashamed to admit that we yarnstorm most simply because unleashing our squishy art on the world makes us and others happy. Put an 8-metre giant knitted squid on a statue of the father of modern biology, or a giant cosy on a phonebox under the paranoid gaze of CCTV, and see how it makes you feel."
Whilst many craftivists have a serious political agenda which tends to be anti war, environmentalist and anti sweat shop, others are simply turning away from being passive consumers of culture to do something active and fun with friends. A bit like making the move from supermarket shopper to allotment gardener these small changes in our own lives are important.
So what would Morris have made of all this? Mila did her MA on Morris she felt that there were some similarities, his key ideals included;
- happiness in work,
- beauty for all,
Perhaps the key difference between Morris and the craftivists is not the ends but the means. Morris saw creativity as closely related to skills, he was keen on people experiencing the pleasure of mastering difficult skills whereas craftivism tends to flourish using skills which are quickly and easily learned and shared. Where Morris's products tended to be beautiful quality, made to last and expensive the products of craftivism tend to be ephemeral or it could be argued that the real product is actually the change in feelings of people not the tangible woolly thing.
Is this a typical male female divide? It was interesting that Crafts Council research presented at the conference last week showed strong gender inbalance in the contemporary crafts with for instance over 75% of gallery/curatorial workers being female. In some traditional crafts such as hand engraving the inbalance is be the other way. Craftivism thus far has been a largely feminist movement using feminine crafts. Perhaps it is time for us all to get together.