Global New Voices: Art, Craft & Industry
The Association for Art History’s annual New Voices conference will, this year, take place virtually, over two-days rather than one. This longstanding event for postgraduate research will also take advantage of the digital format and expand into a GLOBAL New Voices, which will host even more international research and practice.
Theme: Art, Craft & Industry
Keynote Speaker: Christina Michelon, Boston Athenæum, Printcraft: Making with Mass Images
The relationship between art and ideas of craft and industry is long and complex. The latter are often conceived in antithetical terms, with hand-produced, unique ‘art’ objects positioned on the one hand, and mass-produced, industrially made commodities placed at the other. The art historical meanings of ‘craft’ are similarly varied, referring to an interrelated set of practices, categories, and actions. As verb, noun, and adjective in its various forms, craft can denote the physical act of labour; a category of material production; or something judged to be of a certain level of quality. When used as a descriptor of creative practices, the word craft encompasses a broad range of material production, from ceramics, textiles and metalwork, to fashion, design, and amateur practice. At the same time, “craft” can stand as a synonym for how both things and people are “made”. The programme accordingly seeks to explore these complex intersections between art, craft, and industry, concerns which have so often shaped the history of art as a discipline.
This year’s New Voices programme will showcase research from international Masters and PhD students exploring these issues over any historical period or geographic region. The two-day online event will be an opportunity for researchers, makers and practice-researchers to open a dynamic discussion about the similarities, divergences and interconnectivity of art, craft and industry taking place around the world.
PDF Programme (view or download)
Online Event. All timings UK, GMT.
Tickets: Free for Association members, £5 standard ticket. Pre-booking necessary.
GLOBAL NEW VOICES. Day One: Thursday 19 November
11.45 Login to event
12:00 Welcome, by Gursimran Oberoi
Panel 1: Production and Reproduction
12:10 -12.30 To Weave an Engraving
Speaker: Hampton Smith, PhD Researcher, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
In 1842, a woven image titled, A La Memorie De J.M. Jacquard, tricked viewers into thinking it was an engraving. Two years later this woven trompe l’oeil would reappear. Still mimicking ink on paper, but now as a mise en abyme — a woven picture within a woven picture. Textiles like these flourished during the nineteenth century and prompted transatlantic accounts of the Jacquard technique’s ability to mime various forms of mechanical reproduction. But unlike other period trompe l’oeil, these woven images engage a ‘trick of the eye’ through an altogether different syntax: binary punch-cards coordinating warp and weft. Historians have long argued that the Jacquard loom’s binary operands prefigure contemporary digitality. But however integral to histories of computation, these discussions tend towards the teleological. This paper remedies this deterministic oversight by taking the illusionistic ambitions of these images — using art’s most self-conscious of devices — seriously. By better accounting for the networks of craft labor central to such images, I contend weavers recursively engaged the social and political nature of France’s quickly globalizing silk empire through trompe l’oeil: an artistic device that “works” only through erasing the labor it requires.
12:30 – 12.50 Making the Invisible Visible, a comparative study of meaning: the invisibility of commercial mending and the visibility of social mending
Speaker: Brenda Miller, PhD Researcher, University of Wolverhampton
Through moving image/film my study explores that within industrial production there remains a time consuming and skillful process of invisibly repairing flaws in the weaving process that little is known about. Teams of women invisibly mending through necessity continues virtually unchanged in high tech industry, while in recent years darning and mending has become a fashionable social activity. Drawing on concepts of de-skilling and re-skilling the workforce by John Roberts (2007) and Richard Sennett (2008, 2013), this paper looks at textile practice and skill in the age of manufacture and digitization and its potential relationship to the current turn to hand making. My observations suggest how bringing workers together to share skills capture stories and pleasures through making can enhance the workplace community and potentially encourage skill development in amateur mending groups.
12:50 – 13.10 Ralph Turnbull’s Center Table: Re-Crafting Colonial Identity in Post-Emancipation Jamaica, c.1846-1851
Speaker: Catherine Doucette, MA Graduate, The Courtauld Institute of Art
This paper presents a close study of a singular work; a mid-nineteenth-century tilt-top table, veneered with native Jamaican woods and bearing representations of the British Empire, crafted in Jamaica between c. 1846-1851 by the colony’s leading craftsman, Ralph Turnbull (Scottish, c. 1788-1865). This is one of the first studies dedicated to Ralph Turnbull’s Center Table, arguably one of the most significant known works of furniture made in colonial Jamaica. A detailed, object-centered case-study, this paper contextualizes the Center Table within the wider genre of ‘specimen furniture’ and investigates the table’s makers, tilt-top form, use of native Jamaican woods, and virtuosic pictorial marquetry to reveal what this single work can reveal about the complex problem of colonial identity during the years following the ‘Full’ Emancipation of the enslaved population in 1838.
13:10 – 13.30 Artistic and cultural identity through ceramic production: the case of the effigy censers from Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico
Speaker: Ángela Ejarque Gallardo, PhD Researcher, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM)
Palenque was built as one of the most emblematic cities of the classic Mayan period in Chiapas, Mexico, between 350 A.D and 850 A.D. In this city different artistic and craft productions were developed as a form of identity and artistic expression to transmit messages and to legitimize the political and religious power. The interest of this research lies in one of Palenque’s most emblematic craft productions: the effigy ceramic censers. This production stands out for its technical and iconographic complexity, and for its presence throughout the history of the city, for approximately five hundred years. The topics that will be discussed here focus on the visual and material transformation of these artefacts over time. Are the effigy ceramic censers a local production of Palenque? What elements determine it? How can we approach the cultural identity of the objects through visual studies and materiality? Until now, studies on Palenque’s effigy censers have been approached from Archaeology and Iconography perspectives, but not from other aspects of Art History. In this sense, this work is novel because its anthropological view of art, where the interaction between objects with their environment and the role they played as ritual images is also important.
13:30 – 13.50 Q&A, chaired by Freya Gowrley
13:50 – 14.10 Break
Panel 2: (Re)Crafting Identity
14:10 – 14.30 Of weaving, sewing, and conversation: tools for decolonising relationships and knowledges in the art world
Speaker: Victoria Guzman, MA Graduate, King’s College London
This presentation will focus on the work of textile artist Juana Gómez, whose recurrent themes include the body, death as part of a wider cycle of life, and patterns as communication; and that of Sandra Brito, who lives in the Peruvian Amazon, and sows Shipibo patterns while healing people with chakruna, ayahuasca and other medicinal herbs. Both have built a decades long relationship built on respect, shared but distinct knowledges, and trust. By studying their relationship, at the margins of both arts and crafts, we begin to build a politics of affects. In an age of ever-increasing acceleration and competitivity, these kinds of associations are especially important (La Bellacasa, 2017). The other-as-spectacle is not a new trope and we still witnesses unreflexive cultural appropriation, exotization, romanticization of non-western cultures, and performative activism in the arts sector. At a time of global unrest in response to flagrant racism, polarization and inequalities, this relationship between artist and craftswoman can help us understand the role that art can play in today’s world, in both its deconstruction and possible reconstruction; and decolonizing practices that have long been categorized as subordinate, especially when working outside the confines of the traditional gallery space and market (Mignolo, 2010).
14:30 – 14.50 Craftivism, Social Media and Fourth Wave Feminism
Speaker: Francesca Morgan, PhD Researcher, University of Birmingham
Throughout feminist history craft has been utilised to challenge its exclusion from the realms of “high art”, its devaluation as “women’s work” and as a vehicle of resistance. This has continued into fourth wave feminism where feminist craftivism (the intersection of craft and activism) seeks to challenge the gendered stereotyping of craft as inferior, frivolous and conforming to traditional notions of femininity. Given these associations, it is unsurprising that feminist artists are employing subversive craftivist practices to explore issues pertaining to gender and the patriarchy. Furthermore, with social media blurring the boundaries between the traditionally gendered spheres of public and private, sharing craftivism on social media enables feminist artists to challenge the associations between craft and domesticity and attempt to liberate craft from its marginalisation and trivialisation by making such practices visible in the public domain. However, as I will explore, the use of craft by female artists can simultaneously solidify, challenge and renegotiate traditional notions of femininity. Overall, I will consider examples of fourth wave feminist craftivism as both objects and acts of resistance in order to examine the roles they play in fourth wave feminist activism on social media.
14:50 – 15.10 The Lesbian Quilt Manifesto
Speaker: Sarah-Joy Ford, PhD Researcher, Manchester Metropolitan University
This practice-based paper presents The Lesbian Quilt Manifesto. This document frames and states the aims of my practice-led research method. It is a polemical proposal for the Quilt as an affective methodology for re-visioning lesbian archive materials. The manifesto is part of a lineage of queer manifestos that demand and declare, including the Lesbian Avengers, ACT UP, Zoe Leonard and Paul B. Preciado. The Lesbian Quilt Manifesto answers some important questions like: What is a quilt? What is a lesbian? Why would you make a lesbian quilt? The manifesto situates the research method within the histories of women’s marginalised creative production, domestic labour and communication through craft. It unsettles cosy, complacent imaginings of the quilt as a passive a historical object, and re-positions the quilt as a dangerous object.
15:10 – 15.30 Reshaping Threads: Sicilian Folk Art Practices post 1948 and reclaiming my identity
Speaker: Giuseppina (Pina) Santoro, PhD Researcher, Anglia Ruskin University
In my immigrant community the mother tongue, foods and everyday cultural practices are threatened especially with the increasing level of immigration, and now Brexit. When you are removed from your home, there are increased feelings of displacement and belonging to the out-group, even as a second/third generation immigrant like myself.. born in the UK. My research is a matter of urgency. The feelings of displacement are becoming broader and I am amongst many in fear of losing cultural identity. There is a huge gap of knowledge on Sicilian culture and identity post 1950s in the UK, which I attempt to contribute to through my research project. Previous difficulties to find practices of Sicilian Folklore and Folk art research post 1950’s UK that especially links and directly contributes to my personal research is one of my reasons I make this my intention. Findings and information on Italian food and recipes from academics at the British Italian Society are useful but other than that, findings are mostly very general and lack deeper background knowledge. Through the examinations of Sicilian folk art practices, crafts and my own research, I aim to gain the insight and to offer an account of the under recognised skills and knowledge. This research will be a vital addition for future Immigrants.
15:30 – 15.50 Q&A, chaired by Daniel Fountain
15:50 – 16.00 Break
16:00 – 16.40 ‘Craft in Conversation’ with Brenda Miller, Sarah-Joy Ford and Giuseppina (Pina) Santoro.
16:40 End of Day One
GLOBAL NEW VOICES. Day Two: Friday 20 November
11.45 Login to event
12:00 Welcome, by Gursimran Oberoi
Panel 3: Exhibiting Craft
12:10 – 12.30 Embroidered Pictures at the Linwood Gallery: Displaying the Intersection of Art, Craft and Industry in the Nineteenth Century
Speaker: Sammi Scott, PhD Researcher, University of York
The prominent needlepainter Mary Linwood (1755-1845) was most noted for displaying her embroidered pictures in her own gallery space: the Linwood Gallery in Leicester Square, London, from 1809 to 1845. Regular features in guidebooks and newspaper reviews evidence the near universal contemporary acclaim for her productions. However, the reputation of her works later severely declined with Linwood’s embroideries being sold for only small sums after her death. Building on recent scholarship by Heidi Strobel and Rosika Desnoyers, this paper will place new attention on how pivotal understandings of the classifications of art, craft and industry were for contemporary and subsequent interpretations of Linwood’s work. As reproductions of famed paintings, Linwood’s embroidered pictures engaged a direct conversation with the fine arts that was enhanced through their framed display in a gallery. However, the prominent objecthood of heavily worked embroideries brought increased attention to embroidery as a craft and characteristically ‘feminine’ art form. Through examining the materiality of the embroidered pictures, how these were displayed and encountered and how definitions of art, craft and industry were so consciously highlighted in contemporary reviews, this paper will explore the Linwood Gallery as a key site for exploring these interconnected spheres.
12:30 – 12.50 Making Visible: Engaging with Local Contexts, Communities and Memories through Craft Exhibitions
Speaker: Inês Jorge, PhD Researcher, University of Birmingham
In this communication I explore the ‘return to craft’ in post-industrial contexts linked to handmade and industrial production. Since the industrial revolution, craft became associated with ideas of place, memory, heritage, and trauma. The subsequent transition from industrialism to postindustrialism had profound effects on regions driven by the industrial sector. Since then, the post-industrial paradigm has given rise to initiatives of urban regeneration in areas scarred by collapsed industries. These endeavours include the organisation of exhibitions and biennials, which attempt to re-craft such legacies. Accordingly, I set out a key typology of craft exhibition practice – the material-based post-industrial biennial – which has flourished in post-industrial cities across Europe, Asia and North America in the last three decades. A few examples are analysed, with the aim of questioning the ways in which material-based post-industrial biennials interact with local contexts, venues, communities and memories linked to specific histories of making; how they negotiate canonical definitions of art and making such as the divide between craft, art and industry, and the traditional division of craft by genres; how they challenge or reiterate the conventional roles of artist, curator, and public; how they reflect the participants’ voices; and how craft is defined through them.
12:50 – 13.10 For the Love of Labour’: The Ceramic Art of Margit Kovács (1902–77)
Speaker: Valéria (Val) Fülöp-Pochon, PhD Researcher, University of Bristol
Hungarian-born ceramicist-sculptor Margit Kovács (1902–77) set up her pottery studio in Budapest in 1934 and employed assistants to help with mass-production. The scope and diversity of her oeuvre is emblematic of Central-Europe’s interwar industrial design culture and the aesthetic ideals of post-war Socialist Realism, ranging from architectural ornaments to terracotta sculptures and painted wall-tiles. After the 1949 political shift to communism, Kovács became the most popular ceramicist of the Hungarian diaspora worldwide and her clay figurines were mass-produced and sold in state-owned arts and crafts shops. The artist often expressed her ‘love for labour’ and the ‘joy of art-making’ as physical work, which, particularly during the 1950s, resonated with peacetime reconstruction and socialist work ethics. This paper examines Margit Kovács’ art produced in the 1950s-60s, arguing that Kovács had a remarkable astuteness to find equilibrium between ‘made to order’ craft and creative art-making. I inquire into the extent to which Kovács’ approach to applied art, and the medium of clay presented an advantage during the onset of communism and I examine the ways she adapted to the changing political climate in terms of her choice of subject matter and the production, display and dissemination of her work.
13:10 – 13.30 Q&A, chaired by Alicia Hughes
13:30 – 14.00 Break
14:00 – 14.40 Christina Michelon, Assistant Curator at The Boston Athenaeum, Printcraft: Making with Mass Images
14:40 – 15.00 Q&A, chaired by Freya Gowrley
15:00 Close of Global New Voices 2020
Keynote by Christina Michelon, Boston Athenæum.
Title: Printcraft: Making with Mass Images
This presentation introduces, defines, and establishes the genre of “printcraft” — a creative practice that includes collage, decoupage, quilting, and other techniques. Printcrafts share certain material characteristics – namely, the use of printed material; more importantly, they operate or signify in similar ways in spite of their varied techniques, subjects, and styles. As personalized arrangements of widely reproduced pictures and patterns, printcrafts mediate between uniqueness and mass production, handicraft and industrialization, imitation and ingenuity. They are objects created from destruction, carefully ordered to appear disorderly, and often convey playful whimsy despite the laborious efforts behind their manufacture. These tensions and their centrality to nineteenth-century domestic life form the basis of this study.
Christina Michelon, PhD is Assistant Curator of Special Collections at the Boston Athenæum. She specializes in nineteenth-century American visual and material culture and received her PhD in Art History from the University of Minnesota. Prior to joining the Athenaeum, she completed a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship at the American Antiquarian Society and a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library. Her research has also been supported by the Smithsonian Institution, Henry Luce Foundation and American Council of Learned Societies, the Center for Craft, Creativity, and Design, the Chipstone Foundation, and the Library Company of Philadelphia.
Global New Voices is organised by the Association for Art History’s DECR Committee. This year’s conference organisers are, Daniel Fountain, Freya Gowrley, Alicia Hughes and Gursimran Oberoi.
Image: Daniel Fountain, Faggoting, 2020. Courtesy of Daniel Fountain.