Reflections on the Craft Year 2020

Contemporary society has been increasingly responsive to the rapid application of technology in our everyday lives and yet it has taken the Covid 19 pandemic to teach us a new method of communication. Acquiring craft skills and techniques through Youtube or buying items through online shops and websites has taken some of the social dynamics away from craft itself.

Currently we are denied access to mix with the makers, unable to physically handle handmade items or visit craft studios where one could previously smell, hear and taste the atmosphere of production. Covid 19 has humbled us and yet in some ways it has helped us. By having to stay at home, reducing our social bubbles, isolate in our cities and towns and actually take time out of our previously busy lives, we have been forced to pay attention to the things around us. It has enabled us to treat this situation as a period of self discovery and reflection. Iand it may have had a positive impact by teaching us to keep things local, to try to buy handmade items and to examine the communities in which we live, placing value once more on our craftspeople, people who produce their own food, tradespeople who can tend to our homes, to appreciate individuals who use their hands and their skills as craftspeople and makers.

Optimism and creativity in the production of objects that have meaning lead to items being associated with people and having connections with a place or a period in time.

Although local production and connectedness can not wholly address the serious issue of climate change, environmental consciousness in Canada has created an awareness and demand for useful items that should be built and created to last. Canadian consumers want to be able to purchase products that are manufactured in Canada, using materials from Canada and they are rightly looking at products that will support our economy and our crafts people. Recycled, reused and previously loved objects should be promoted, their usefulness should have longevity, objects should be cared for and remain fully intact. There are genuine craftspeople in our communities who are looking at waste products to create new products who are recycling waste materials and reusing them in unrecognisable ways.

Strange Evolution by Bridget Catchpole

The Digital Revolution with mass media and 24-hour news channels is waking us up to the reality that we are a throwaway society that is slowly and systematically destroying our planet. For many individuals this encourages us to take greater responsibility for our environment however small a part. Amongst the craft fraternity this seems to be stimulating a shift towards quality and authenticity in order to articulate the value of the handmade. Covid 19 has encouraged people to experiment with craft in their homes, making masks and scrub bags and keeping busy with their hands whilst developing stories around these items, the provenance of items passed from one Canadian family to another is a story to be told for many generations. Optimism and creativity in the production of objects that have meaning lead to items being associated with people and having connections with a place or a period in time. This achieves more than reflecting our lives during the pandemic of the 21st century, it reinforces the value of craft, respect for craftspeople and the important place they hold within our communities.

Header image: Grace weaving, Amanda Wood