Sunday, 11 December 2011

Steve Jobs

 These inspirational quotes from Steve Jobs were put together by Mike Press for his great blog here the most craft related ones are at the end but I think they are all great.

“In most people’s vocabularies, design means veneer. It’s interior decorating. It’s the fabric of the curtains and the sofa. But to me, nothing could be further from the meaning of design. Design is the fundamental soul of a man-made creation that ends up expressing itself in successive outer layers of the product or service.”

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.”

“My model for business is The Beatles. They were four guys who kept each other’s kind of negative tendencies in check. They balanced each other and the total was greater than the sum of the parts. That’s how I see business: great things in business are never done by one person, they’re done by a team of people.”

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.”

“Because I had dropped out and didn’t have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating. None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography.”

“When you’re a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you’re not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall and nobody will ever see it. You’ll know it’s there, so you’re going to use a beautiful piece of wood on the back. For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through.”

And whilst looking back at Mike's old blog archive I came across this remarkable post from 2007. It seems quite visionary now showing the way handmade crafts using web 2 software, blogs, etsy etc are in a position to grow rapidly, comment, and be far more proactive in addressing issues about the way we make, work and consume in the 21st century.

"Craft 2.0 is the true inheritor of the Morris legacy. Unlike the professionalised 'art school' educated craft makers it has an ideological position which, while largely ill-defined and diverse, represents a constructive reaction to the inequities and politics of the market economy. It is clearly using the market economy as a means of developing sustainable livelihoods, but is bringing economic and cultural innovation to it. Above all it is dealing with the politics of work and consumption in ways that the professionalised sector cannot."

life is a gym for head, hand and heart.

It seems to me that the life many people aspire to at the moment involves spending the working day in important meetings or at a computer or doing similar cerebral work, then in the morning or evening jogging or pumping iron at the gym to get that perfect body.

These gyms seem bizarre places to me, I have walked past them in London full of folk pounding away like so many hamsters on wheels. The bizarre thing is that all those machines are consuming electricity, I'd like to see a gym that generated electricity or better see those folk out carrying shopping for old ladies or some  other useful physical activity. Besides that I struggle with the idea of pounding away just to get the current trendy body shape. I think far better to live a balanced life that involves a mix of cerebral and physical activity. At the moment I am converting my ex village police station into a holiday cottage, there is a lot of hard labouring work which a hard nosed business annalist would say I should pay a labourer £50 a day to do whilst I got on with more lucrative work. I earn an average of £80 a day so I can't argue with the economics but there is something more important than economics to me. By doing the labouring myself I get a feeling of empowerment, and also a good workout which would cost my cerebral friends a hefty gym fee. Here I am starting to demolish the old wall separating the old garage from the police station office, I reckon you could charge for this it was such fun.

Why is it that doing this stuff as part of the working day is looked down upon whilst paying to sweat in the gym is viewed as a good thing? This is all part of my philosophy of living a balanced life with work involving hand, head and heart. Past posts on the subject here

Thursday, 8 December 2011

traditional craft in a music video

Often folk picture heritage and traditional crafts as being backward looking, and having nothing to say today. Whilst the modern art of the craft spectrum is seen as "innovative" and "cutting edge". This is a misunderstanding, today in times of global financial adversity people tend to reassess their priorities and question what good work and a good life means, what is of value and what is not. The traditional crafts have always been closely linked with the politics of work, from William Morris to Eric Gill to Mahatma Gandhi craft, work, philosophy, politics all together. 

Craft is still relevant today and far from being backward looking the Heritage Crafts Association are at the cutting edge of debate about what is good work today. Music sometimes also carries political messages and one of my favourite young punk bands are the King Blues. This is their new video shot on a very cold day last spring and you might notice a clip of me in the workshop.

It was quite an eye opener being part of the video, we had an afternoon in the workshop them most of the day starting at 8am in Manchester and it was cold....
This quick clip taken on my pocket camera gives an idea of how it was made.

and a few stills

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

two great craft films

Here is a really nice film of Finnish blacksmith Jesse Sipola, he has developed a system of using hand held air hammers for fine forging work, particularly faces, it's a nicely shot and edited film too.

Jesse Sipola, Seppä | Blacksmith (2011) from Eero Y on Vimeo.

and here is one for the woodies it is an absolute gem, recorded in 1984 two "bushmen" Bill Boyd and Mark Garner fell a tree, split "slabs" off it and hew them to make house timbers. I have worked with some seriously talented hewers in Japan, Germany and the best from the UK, when I watched the first few seconds of this film with these two chaps sat on the porch sharpening their axes I thought it all looked a bit hammed up for the cameras but just stick with it, they are as skilled and effortless as anyone I have ever seen with an axe.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Britain to be proud of?

An interesting piece of research has just been published looking at what British people are proud of.

Respondents were more likely to take pride in the things that were closest to them – for instance their family and home – than in the ‘nation’ more generally:

87% said ‘I am proud of my family’.
77% said ‘I am proud of my friends’.
62% said ‘I am proud of my work’.
80% were ‘proud of my attitude to others’.
90% said ‘I am proud of my values’.
Gosh we are beginiing to sound like a smug lot now how about this
79% said ‘I am proud of my knowledge/intelligence’.

"Overwhelmingly, British people believe that we are – collectively – less proud of Britain than our forefathers: 53 per cent believe that Britain is less patriotic than it was 25 years ago and 61 per cent argue that patriotism has declined over the last 50 years – over half of British people believe that we are ‘a lot less proud’ than we once were of Britain.
However, four in five British people are still happy to declare themselves ‘proud to be a British citizen’ and levels of patriotism in the UK are – when compared with those in other European nations – relatively healthy."

81% said ‘I am proud of how Britain looks (eg landscape, architecture and style)’.
74% were ‘proud of British culture’.

"British citizens had a strong disengagement from ‘patriotism’ People felt that ‘patriotism’ meant the last night of the Proms, the Union Jack and singing ‘Jerusalem’.... while they are proud of Britain and of being British, assume that the term ‘patriotic’ just doesn’t, really, describe them:

"Patriotic means flying the flag and standing up for the national anthem and things like that. I think it’s fine that people do that but it’s not really me, if you know what I mean? I suppose I’m not really ‘patriotic’ but I do think I’m proud of British things."

"It’s a bit weird to be really, really patriotic. I don’t think it’s racist or anything, like people say, I think it’s harmless really but it’s more that it’s old-fashioned. It’s sort of more for posh people, isn’t it?"

"When you ask about what’s best about being British I think of all the people that give up their time to help other people, or to do good things in the community. That’s what makes me proud of this country."

"At the same time, shame and embarrassment in Britain are strongly felt. More than half of British people have been ‘embarrassed to be British’ "

"The British are among the most likely people in the world to give up our time to volunteer. We have significantly higher levels of social action – and a greater and more established independent charitable sector – than most peer European countries."

"I think of being British as being about littler things, more boring I suppose. Like doing your bit and manners and helping out. The thing about British people is that we do things for each other, you know? Being British is more about the way we are than things like Buckingham Palace or Parliament."

"We find that pride in Britain is strong but that people are alienated by the way in which politicians talk about patriotism. British people are highly dubious of efforts to politicise their everyday, felt patriotic sentiments and they deeply distrust efforts to intellectualise their pride in their country. British politicians are at risk – through their wide-of-the-mark ventures into the discourse of patriotism – of turning British people off their sense of themselves."

"I’m always a bit dubious when the politicians see something good and then say ‘that’s what I believe in’ because usually they take that thing and they ruin it."

"Sometimes when they [politicians] talk about volunteering and all that, it sounds like they think they invented it or something. I don’t volunteer because the Government tells me to, I volunteer because I want to – I enjoy it and I think it’s important,"

"our research undermined many of the traditional narratives about patriotism and British-identity. Participants identified a mis- match between history presented as a ‘great island story’ and what they felt was important, and inspiring, about modern Britain."

and here is one last statistic which shows that folk answering quesions from research companies maybe say what they would like to think they do in an idealised vision rather than what they actually do in the real world.

"74% of respondents agreed with the statement ‘it’s important to buy British’.

Full report can be downloaded here

Friday, 2 December 2011

NIACE craft "tool kit" project

"The exciting announcement Creative & Cultural Skills have commissioned research agency TBR to map the heritage crafts sector seems to have caused a little confusion as to how that impacts or sits with the work I’m doing with NIACE so I thought I’d explain how it all fits together.
When Skills Minister John Hayes first featured in craft&design magazine he explained that he was looking at how to address training the next generation of craftspeople.
The first issue recognised by the Minister was the need to harness the expertise and knowledge of the sector so he set up a BIS Craft Skills Advisory Board which has already been holding meetings.
The Minister pledged to undertake a national mapping exercise for heritage craft skills sector, working with a range of sector bodies.
John Hayes has also invited NIACE to produce a map of apprenticeship frameworks that support the sector and to look at opportunities for future growth.  NIACE is also developing a tool kit – this is what I”m working on specifically.
The toolkit is basically a micro website which can be accessed by anyone but in particular people hoping to pursue a career in craft.  I am collecting case studies from people currently working in the industry which details their chosen discipline and how they got there.
These human stories will be really helpful and, in some cases, inspirational.  And, as we are now adding photos, they may also generate new business.
Some of the people that have contacted me also run their own workshops.  There is a separate part of the toolkit dedicated to courses, both through educational institutions as well as independently run.  I’m preparing a list of these as I go and will ensure that any courses advised to me will also be included in the toolkit.
In short then, the mapping exercise will show where heritage craft is at the moment.  The toolkit will be preparing craft for the future.
I have had a great response so far – thank you to all those who have contacted me.  However, I would still love to hear from more of you please.  And don’t forget, if you are running short courses and workshops, include them in the information you send me or, if you haven’t got time to write it, just email me with a convenient time to call you and I’ll write it for you.
This is a fantastic opportunity to be part of a craft-focused project that is the biggest of its kind and it costs you nothing to get involved.  Just a few minutes of your time.
I urge you not to miss out."

raising the status of art and craft?

How do we raise the status of studying artistic rather than pure academic subjects? There has been much discussion recently about how society values academic vs tacit knowledge, skills minister John Hayes said "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. Matt Crawford's book "The case for working with your hands" made a similar case but how do we convince parents and bright kids that a career in the arts, crafts or trades is a viable choice and not something for academic low achievers?

I just came across this wonderful witty ad campoaign for the College for Creative Studies in Detroit mimicking anti drugs campaigns. Entertaining and makes the point but does it reinforce the image, challenge it or change it?

“Talk to your kids about art school”

1 in 5 teenagers will experiment with art
I found this in your room. We need to talk
Doodling is a gateway to illustration
How long have you been Photoshopping?
Your son has been sculpting again
Know the warning signs of art
Your mother and I raised you better than this

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Folk art meeting in Sweden 2012

HCA have had good links with the international Organisation of Folk Art IOV

They are organising a youth congress next year in Sweden, and by youth they mean up to 35. The event looks great and is fully funded so the only cost is your air fair, all food accommodation transport etc is free. Max 5 places available from the UK, I wish I was younger. 2012 is also the centenary of the National Association of Handicraft in Sweden so there will be plenty of craft events.

“Youth empowerment in the Intangible Cultural Heritage”

The IOV World Youth Congress is an international gathering of young people, which takes place every two years. Folk art and culture, intangible heritage, tradition and their applications in the 21st Cen­tury are the subjects that inspire discussions, workshops and lectures during the week-long meet­ing. IOV Youth are professionals seeking new ideas and fresh approaches to their work as teachers, arts administrators, handicraft counselors and artists. They are also amateur hobbyists and students, whose interests include storytelling, singing, weaving and dancing. IOV Youth are brought together by a shared interest in folk art. Friendships are built and networks established that will last a lifetime; and when the IOV Youth Congress concludes, IOV Youth will have a better apprecia­tion of folk art as a tool to build bridges to cultures and people.

The 2012 Congress will focus on the issues and relationships of a living heritage:

Passion and Engagement – From personal life to professional career

Think local, act global

Where is folk art today, and where will it be tomorrow

IOV is a worldwide organization of individuals and institutions working to document, preserve, and promote all forms of folk art, both tangible and intangible.

IOV sponsors national and international folk art festivals, as well as cultural exchanges of perform­ing artists and visual art. Through scientific and pedagogical symposia and workshops, IOV supports scholarly research, documentation, and publication on a board range of topics relating to folk art and folk culture.

The UNESCO 2003 Convention on the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, with its emphasis on research and documentation, and the 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, provide the foundation for IOV programs and projects.

The International Organization of Folk Art/IOV, in operational relations with the United Nations Educational, Sci­entific and Cultural Organization/UNESCO is pleased to extend this Official Invitation to you to participate in The Third IOV World Youth Congress 2012 on Youth Empowerment in the Intangible Cultural Heritage, June 25-29, 2012.

The congress is being organized by the National Associa­tion of Handicraft Societies, Västarvet/Handicraft in West and the IOV Youth Commission, with support from the IOV Secretariat.

Congress theme
Youth Empowerment in the Intangible Cultural Heritage.

The congress is open to IOV Youth members between ages 18 – 35. Applicants should be passionate about folk art and desire to take part in establishing the international network - IOV Youth.

Applicants may be students, researchers, and activists, as well as young professionals and others interested in folk art and folk culture, folk art history, civil society administration and related fields. Because space is limited, confer­ence participation will be granted to no more than one hundred youth participants. There will be an initial limit of 5 participants from each country. We will also strive for equality in gender and diversity of cultural expression.

If you are not a member of IOV, we invite you to join us at:

Congress overview
• June 24 – Arrival at Arlanda Airport in Stockholm, Sweden

• June 25 – The participants visit a national Folk art exhibition in central Stockholm, celebrating 100 years of organized handicraft. In the afternoon, we travel by bus to Billströmska folk high school at the island Tjörn in the southwestern part of Sweden, where the confer­ence will be held

• June 26 – “Show Me” – A creative workshop model for teaching intangible culture

• June 27 – Lectures and theme workshops.

• June 28 – Conclusions and aims for the future

• June 29 – Folk Art Festivities. We celebrate 5 years of IOV Youth

• June 30 – Departure from Arlanda airport

There is no registration fee to participate. The Swedish organizers and sponsors will cover the costs of your partici­pation in the congress program, including local transportation, accommodations, meals and airport transfer from Arlanda on June 24th and back on June 30th. The participants will cover the cost of their international travel, visas and medical insurance.

Congress language
The congress language is English. Translation services are not provided.

apply here