After a highly successful Canadian tour, the Naked Craft exhibition of work by 22 contemporary makers arrived in Scotland earlier this year and is currently at the Tweeddale Museum & Gallery. In this short article, Magdalena Cattan, a Design - PhD student at Edinburgh College of Art (ECA), shares her thoughts on the show before interviewing its curators…

Gathering 22 contemporary makers from Scotland and Canada, Naked Craft explores ideas of tradition, identity and place through a series of fascinating objects configured by diverse, rich and some unexpected uses of materials and techniques.

Curated by ECA’s Juliette MacDonald and Arno Verhoeven, together with Sandra Alfoldy of NSCAD University, Denis Longchamps of the Art Gallery of Burlington and Emma Quin of Craft Canada, and Laura Hamilton for its Scottish run, the exhibition is guided by four themes that embrace the discussion about the significance of craft in a contemporary scenario. 

New Positions

Beginning with the statement that craft is always evolving, New Positions congregates a generation of makers that have been able to embrace innovative concepts and revitalise forgotten techniques with a refreshing point of view.

For instance, the Scottish makers Joanne Kaar and Caroline Dear recover traditional techniques of weaving and braiding employing natural materials found in their surroundings such as moss and rush, resulting in garments-objects responding to the present that greatly evoke vernacular roots. 

Down and Dirty

This theme brings a reflection about the notion of place, identity and its connection with territory,  recognisable for instance in the work of ECA graduate, Beth Legg, who represents her sense of place and belonging by integrating in her jewellery pieces natural elements collected in her home environment.

Do-it-Yourself

The pieces from this theme are particularly interesting because they succeed in re-signifying a fashionable concept towards the comprehension of self-sufficient spirit and the hand-made as a deep reflective practice.

In From Lectures on Art Botany, Sarah Alford creates an expressive series of sculptures drawing floral ornaments with hot glue, transforming a simple DIY material in a glass-looking piece. There is a twist in the purpose of the material and the intention behind its choice.

Tooling Up

This theme assembles traditional processes with new technologies, applying new approaches towards materials and skill.

Within this path, the Canadian ceramist Amélie Proulx creates a piece that harmonically combines the fragility of handmade porcelain flowers with a motion electronic circuit that transforms the standard attributes of the material into a shifting sounding landscape.

Two distant northern countries sharing common values

After visiting the exhibition, there is a feeling of “boundless landscape”. First, in the sense of territorial borders, as two distant northern countries share common values in the appreciation of their similar natural landscape, whereas there is cross questioning regarding the relationship between place and identity.

Secondly, the exhibition shows a broad approach to the creative practice of craft as the makers are open to experiment around materials and processes in order to address the before-mentioned reflections.

Naked Craft talks about the intrinsic and distinctive characteristic of craft that resides in the multisensory approach involved within the practice, which is highly related to human values and emotion.

The exhibition tackles that and also advocates for a wider perspective of the discipline in the contemporary world.

Find out more about the curatorial process behind Naked Craft

Magdalena Cattan has been talking to the Naked Craft curators about the show. 

Read and listen to the interview

The Scottish tour of Naked Craft is generously supported by Creative Scotland Lottery Funding and the University of Edinburgh. It is on at Tweeddale Museum & Gallery until 4th March 2017 and tours to The Gallery, An Lanntair, Stornoway in April.