Tag Archives: Folk Art

DISCO!

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Over the next few days this new mismatched family got to know one another, they laughed, for some this was the first time in ages, for others it was just nice to know they could be themselves in the company of like minded buffoons.

In this time they watched Sven and his team come and go, muttering about Narnia this, Narnia that and how people would go simply mad for what they had discovered. But whilst Sven and the gang thought the gigantosaurus’ where just chilling minding their own business, they were actually squirrelling away tools and scraps of card all in preparation for “pimping” out their new home.

It was late the night before the “grand unveiling” as Sven had called it and the gaggle set to work.

“NO, No, don’t cut it like that!” Snapped Crunch, “let me do it, look my teeth can cut that much better.”

“Fine, you do that then, I will help Charles with the electrics for retro box.” Agreed Fredrick.

“I’ve got the electrics sorted!” Exclaimed Charles.

“And I’ve finishes snapping the card.” Crunch said smugly.

” Now alls we need is Christine to pull it all together!” purred Colin.

Then before their eyes Christine had used her many legs to pull the contraption together. And it was ready! They had built an old school disco light, that used the retro record box to spin. The results where simply hypnotic.

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I can’t see Sven…

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By the time the patchwork, giantosaurus, entourage finally managed to make their way back up the rabbit hole network they had gotten to know one another quite well and secretly were quite enjoying the like minded, quirky company. This was probably because they knew that at the surface they could go their separate ways. At least that is what they thought.

As they emerged it quickly became apparent that they were no longer where they started. It was starting to look like Sven may have planned this all along. No longer where they confronted by the leafy green forest they had been transported to, but instead a large white box where the floor was constructed from Fabric and a strange retro box on the floor.

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“Sven, O, Sven!” Christine called, at least so she thought, she wasn’t to know that Sven couldn’t understand a word she was saying.

“Christine, I don’t know how to tell you this, but I don’t think he is coming back. I think this is where we are all supposed to be.” exclaimed Fredrick.

What makes you say that Fred?” questioned the group all at once.

“The doors over there, they say N-A-R-N-I-A, I think this is where we were coming all along.” whispered Fredrick.

The gaggle of creations just stood and stared for a moment, before turning to one another with smiles on their faces. They knew exactly what they wanted to do here…

Craft? Art? or Craftivism? A matter of Opinion

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It is hard to distinguish where the boundaries lie between craft and art practices as the determination of this depends on the perception of different constituencies within society and how they respond to cultural materiality and visual elements. The craft and art divide changes its boundaries based on its socio-political surroundings of that place/ time. Drawing back on the Industrial Revolution which saw this transfer of craft from private to public, is something which only occurred due to the development within a society of machinery and an increased need for produce which could be traded. Just because men where predominantly in charge within these factories does not mean however that they gained more respect for the chores faced day to day by women. There was a distinct difference in doing crafts because you had a love for them and because you had to in order to survive. However if in contrast we consider the AIDS quilt and its production it is riddled with key moments of socio- political happenings. The recession saw gay rights and the AIDS epidemic being pushed to one side as society was divided on how to approach these subjects. Yet through the effective use of activism in a street march the idea of the AIDS Memorial quilt was formed and it now stands as the biggest piece of craftivist work to date. This tactile piece of community work raised awareness of the AIDS crisis on a global level and appears to have effectively led to President Reagan stepping forward discussing the growing issue. However the formation of this piece from fabric, using a traditional method of quilting automatically defines it as a piece of craft, but we also have to consider the rich political, historical and social periods the piece continues to adapt in.

Craftivism is a term which only came around at the start of the 21st Century, which was after the beginning of the AIDS quilt. However just because the term was yet to be coined, does not mean the piece cannot be referred to retroactively as craftivism, the quilt has had a major role in allowing craft to be viewed as art in itself and thus bridging the gap between art and craft. With the piece steeped deep in politics and awareness within society the piece could be seen as being of historical context and belonging more so in a museum than a gallery or craft fair. The piece is formed wholly of the traditional American folk art of quilting which is a craft, however the piece draws so many morbid thoughts of how many dead people it represents it could draw similarity to the mass graves of the Holocaust, which is viewed as a horrific happening of historical context. The quilt could also be viewed as a political piece, encouraged by the death and words of a politician, the piece and its number of contributors to convey one message, draws similarities to a union. By all coming together as one voice, they were finally heard when it boiled down to getting noticed through this impressive action. To draw similarities between the quilt and the roles of a union and how this could relate to the politics of the world at its time of production, we must consider the work of Thatcher. Though her political changes occurred in the UK they still impacted on the US as the two countries worked closely together and carried out trade. In the UK Thatcher reduced the power of the unions so significantly that for the most part they simply ceased to exist. In doing this she left people trying to protect themselves and their families as one lone voice. The nature of the scale of how many activists took part in the quilt in order to lobby the government and enforce change quite clearly draws similarities to the models of a union, a group of like-minded people coming together to be one loud voice. So taking all of these aspects of the quilt into consideration, where exactly does the quilt lie in the intersection of art and craft?

The reality of the situation is that the distinction of where the boundaries between art and craft lie cannot be fixed as a predetermined definition. There are too many factors which can come into play. For example in its home town of San Francisco the quilt may be viewed as a piece of activist history as the area is and was so deeply rooted in its awareness of why the quilt was produced in the first place. Therefore if you were to ask a member of this city where they felt the quilt lay on this spectrum they might say nowhere at all, as it could just be viewed a symbolic representation of the deaths of thousands of people. Yet other people, part of the activist movement or not could argue either way for the piece to be classed as craft or art. Those more aware of American Folk art history and who enjoy the visual ad tactile nature of the quilt might be more inclined to refer to it as a piece of craft. As the craft and values of quilting served as a method of bringing people and communities together allowing them to discuss different issues, drawing them together over a calm craft which had pleasing results. Yet another member of the same community might be inclined to view the piece as art rather than craft. This could be because although the piece has a tactile nature, it is of such a vast scale it removes the audience from itself. It essentially forms a gallery of its own as each piece is unique and it can’t physically be viewed all at once. This essentially removes the tactile nature of the piece as the audience can’t interact with it on a personal level as its scale could become overwhelming. This would therefore enable them to view the quilt as a gallery of art.

These differences in judgment and preferences for materiality or visual qualities will vary from person to person based on their social upbringing and their awareness of political happenings as to where they view the piece would belong.

 The realism that that piece cannot be defined into one category actually draws on the triumph of The AIDS Memorial quilt. It was designed by Jones to raise awareness and get communities talking. The fact that it could easily find itself placed not only in both end of the spectrum of craft and art but also find itself considered a historical monument and a pivotal political representation emphasises the success of the quilt.