Page 10 - Art Trail Magazine August 2019
P. 10

       What is in a name?

       Musing on the meaning of “Art or Craft”

                                                                                             by Jamie Herschel

                                                                                      ost of my working life has
                                                                                      been  heavily  influenced
                                                                                      by the “Arts and Crafts”
                                                                                      movement       of    William
                                                                      MMorris et al.  The overriding
                                                                        message from the movement was to
                                                                        try and furnish both our environment
                                                                        and lives with things of beauty through
                                                                        art and design.

                                                                        The concept of “Art & Craft” is in itself
                                                                        a bit of a conundrum. What is “Art” and
                                                                        what is “Craft”. Where indeed do they
                                                                        meet and where do they divide.

                                                                        It is surprising how many times I have
                                                                        had  this  conversation  with  artists  and
                                                                        craftsmen over the years. Indeed,
                                                                        should our “Trail” be called the “Arts and
                                                                        Crafts Trail”? This is probably the one
                                                                        suggestion that is likely to bring purists
                                                                        scrambling to the barricades to defend
                                                                        the concept of “Fine Art” and the need
                                                                        to keep craftsmen in their place. Their
                                                                        place of course being the fabrication of
      “things” while the real “Artists” get on with the important work of producing “Fine Art”.

      We have little difficulty in calling a painter of pictures an “Artist”. We don’t call them a “Painter”
      because that’s a chap in white overalls with a bucket of paint and a ladder. Do we call a potter a
      “Potter” because he’s a chap with a ball of clay and a wheel, and then we may call another individual
      a “Ceramicist” because he or she produces something considered more like sculpture and therefore
      “Art”?  Should we call the “Ceramicist” an “Artist” then?  Is the beachcomber with a desire to create
      a small or large sculpture from the serendipity of found objects an “Artist”? Does a “Fine Artist” craft
      their work carefully. Are they then a “Craftsman”?  Well then what’s in a name?

      Some years ago, when the “Art Trail” was involved in running the “Boots Gallery” in Aberystwyth, I
      was constantly amazed by the number of ordinary members of the public who were willing to pay
      serious money for original works. I purposely use the word “works” rather than “Art” as much of what
      was on display strayed out of the traditional idea of an “Art Gallery”. There was an eclectic mixture
      of work, all in my opinion attempting to fulfil the very concept of William Morris et al to bring things
      of beauty to ordinary people.  Admittedly the “Art & Crafts” movement was primarily driven by a
      very middle-class band of brothers and sisters, but the influence of their ideas has undoubtedly
      percolated into life of all classes ever since.
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