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.

We invite papers and practice-led case studies to, and participation in, a workshop that will exploreall aspects of craft and social making, and the social worlds that crafts create.

This might include, but should not be limited to:

      • Explorations of community crafts’ agencies
      • The added value of craft networks
      • The benefits and challenges of hyper localism
      • How caring for things helps us care for each other
      • Craft and affect, the health and well-being benefits of craft processes, creative neo-artisanal producers and the potential for more democratic circuits of community-based production and consumption
      • How micro-entrepreneurs are reimagining our relationship with goods, designer-makers and the cross-cultural flow of people and ideas, localised ‘ecologies of making’ and regeneration, craft and customization, and the use of making and craft in community engagement.