The Naked Craft Network (NCN) is a collaboration between researchers in Scotland and Canada, two countries where craft plays a key role in the cultural and creative industries.

The Network aims to develop a greater understanding of how craft practices have evolved, strengthening connections between creativity, place, landscape and identity, and providing communities with important financial frameworks.

An AHRC-funded project using a case study approach

Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), the Naked Craft Network brings together researchers, writers, curators and industry partners.

Led by Dr Juliette MacDonald and Arno Verhoeven at Edinburgh College of Art (ECA), collaborators include Ontario Crafts Council, Craft Scotland and the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design.

The researchers are asking questions such as:

  • How will the work of contemporary Scottish makers challenge, or reinforce, the current perception of Scotland abroad?
  • In what way will Canadian makers move beyond tradition and the production of stereotyped histories derived from a post-colonial reminiscence?

They are exploring craft’s role in representing the ‘local’ to a global audience and economy, now and in the future.

The partnership is built on a case study approach; initially examining two independent communities with a common heritage - Scotland and Nova Scotia, Canada - through practice, with practitioners, to understand their differing trajectories.

The project’s legacy is an opening up of the channels of communication between the two communities to establish a space for reflecting upon, and re-evaluating, the traditional roles of craft practice in the future.

Photo of a bench crafted by Martin Campbell
Image courtesy of Martin Campbell
'Weave Sat Together' by ECA graduate, Martin Campbell, part of the Naked Craft touring exhibition

"The experience was a special opportunity to ask myself “what if” with a clear mind and be open to push my own boundaries and experiment... the exchange between countries was fascinating as many similarities were discovered, and a wealth of knowledge in our differences".

Susan Collett, Canadian printmaker and sculptor; participant in Naked Craft Network workshop

Craft practitioners exchanging knowledge and ideas

In October 2013, the Network hosted a ten-day residency, or MAKE/WORKshop, at the Scottish Sculpture Workshops in Lumsden, Aberdeenshire, culminating in the symposium, Belonging and Identity in a Globalised Context.

Much of the work saw makers engage directly with the mountainous topography of the Aberdeenshire area through their craft and discuss the meaning of this with academics, curators and policymakers.

A second ten-day MAKE/WORKshop and symposium took place in Ontario, Canada, in June 2015, to coincide with the opening of the Naked Craft exhibition at the Art Gallery of Burlington, which went on to be visited by over 10,500 people before touring to Quebec and Nova Scotia.

With the support of Creative Scotland, the exhibition began a five-venue tour of Scotland in 2016, accompanied by two symposia: Have Craft, Will Travel… at The Barony Centre; and New Positions at Edinburgh College of Art.

Would you like to get involved in research at ECA?

We are always looking for research partners and participants. If you are interested in getting involved in research at Edinburgh College of Art, please contact our Research, Knowledge Exchange and Outreach (RKEO) Office by emailing ECA.rkeo@ed.ac.uk.

We also offer a range of research-led postgraduate programmes. Find out more.


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