International Journal of Art & Design Education

Is the Crisis in British Crafts the Next Boom Industry in Art Criticism?

Volume 2.1   1983



The paper begins by addressing the question 'Do crafts need critics and their criticism?'. The views of Peter Fuller and Tom Wolfe on the current crisis in fine art are briefly summarised before examining whether these issues are relevant to the field of crafts. The author describes the change of status of the crafts from something which was attractive, easily understood and in which anyone could participate, to the notion of the artist-craftsman who specialises in 'one-offs' in which function is the least of the maker's concerns. So, for example, the potter becomes a ceramic artist. The influence of the art-crafts market in this trend is discussed. The paper argues that the crafts flirt dangerously with marginality when they lose their form and appeal to a fine art 'tradition' of modernism that is, in many ways, meaningless and even debased. The paper concludes that, while the critic must argue with the maker and ask what is the purpose of the outcome, the critic has no right to lay down the ground rules for future work - this is the prerogative of the maker.