Crafting Value, Social Making: A Way of Contributing to the World

Plymouth College of Art in association with The University of Wolverhampton. Convened by Fiona Hackney, Professor Fashion Textiles Theories, AHRC-funded CARE: Co-producing Community-based Assets, Research & Enterprise, University of Wolverhampton. Co-convenors, Katie Jane Hill, Lecturer and Research Assistant, the University of Wolverhampton, and Mah Rana, doctoral student at Birkbeck College, and Honorary Research Fellow, University of Wolverhampton.

In ’The Sympathy of Things’, a BBC radio programme exploring the complex relationship between hand-made craft and designed, manufactured goods, Amica Dall from the architectural collective ‘Assemble’ defined two approaches to making:

1. As a form of self-expression, and

2. As a way of contributing to the world.

The latter is the focus of this workshop which talks to a central conference concern: craft’s social capacity to engage, connect, build assets and agencies, and help us reimagine and transform our world.

S4S Designing a Sensibility for Sustainable Clothing project launch 2018, exploring how making together can bring about behaviour change.

At a time of increasing economic and social inequality, looming environmental crises, and austerity-driven cuts in public services, these concerns take on new urgency. Many argue that we have reached ‘peak stuff’ and need to rethink our values, our relationship with nature, and how we live. Craft has an important role to play here, as the sociologist Richard Sennett recognised when he identified the workshop as a model for cooperative working, arguing that material craftsmanship and social cooperation can shape better social relations and remake our environment. Making things involves us in a tactile, messy, difficult reality, which helps us to engage with difficulty and difference.