Contemporary craft makers are increasingly working across disciplines to investigate the natural and scientific world or to address contemporary issues and ideas. Using these craft makers as case studies, creative links can be made between art and science, english, maths, citizenship, drama, dance, biology and history alongside other subject areas.
For example, Rob Kessler manipulates images of plants derived from electron microscopy to present the complexity and beauty of the natural world.
Helen Carnac's work focuses on how making can inform our approaches to the world, our philosophy and ideology.
Caroline Broadhead collaborates with dancers and choreographers to produce one off live performances and installations.
Image: Helen Carnac for Skills in the Making, © NSEAD
Craft and Science
Rob Kessler is Professor of Ceramic Art and Design at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, and is far from being a conventional potter, often working with photography and digital images rather than clay. His work bridges the art-science divide and he defines himself as an artist, explaining that 'I work in the area where craft and design overlap.' The theme that links Kessler's wide-ranging body of work is his overwhelming fascination with plant material and the natural world.
Rob Kesseler and Wolfgang Stuppy reveal the strange and ingenious methods plants use to disperse their seeds and ensure their survival. Find out more...
Rob Kesseler's work focuses on images of plants and their structure; sometimes they are applied to ceramic or textiles, or stand alone. Explorations of the structure of seeds or pollen grains, the images are based on scientific microscopic black and white digital photographs to which he adds computer generated heightened colour to create pieces that will draw in the viewers in the same way as "a bee is drawn to the colours of a flower." The images are manipulated to reveal what was previously invisible, resulting in what Kesseler calls "assisted reality".
Science: Specialist websites
TED talks by leaders in the field of technology, science and design
Microscopy U: images of cells
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Jenny, H (2001) Cymatics: A Study of Wave Phenomena and Vibration. Macromedia
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Moore, A and Garibaldi, C (2003) Flower Power: The Meaning of Flowers in Art. Philip Wilson
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Stafford, B.M (1994) Artful Science, Enlightenment, Entertainment and the Eclipse of the Visual Image. MIT Press
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Ball, P (2009) Flow: Natures patterns: a tapestry in three parts. Oxford University Press
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The work of Rob Kesseler
Kesseler, R (2001) Pollinate, Grizedale Arts and the Wordsworth Trust
Kesseler, R and Harley, M (2009) Pollen, the hidden sexuality of Flowers. Papadakis
Kesseler, R and Stuppy, W (2009) Seeds, time capsules of life. Papadakis
Stuppy, W and Kesseler, R (2008) Fruit, edible, incredible and inedible. Papadakis
Stuppy, W, Kesseler, R and Harley M (2009) The bizarre and incredible world of plants. Papadakis
Craft and Philosophy
Helen Carnac: thinking through making
Helen Carnac works as lecturer, writer, curator, conference organizer and teacher, but her primary interest is her work as a craftsperson. Although she originally trained as a silversmith, Carnac defines herself as a maker. She co-curated the Craftspace Touring exhibition Taking Time: Craft and the Slow Revolution (2009) which takes as its starting point the issues emerging from the Slow Movement, which developed as a response to our increasingly fast lifestyles and our unsustainable consumer culture. Slowness is also associated with craft skills: skill which is acquired over time that cannot be rushed and is intuitively learned. Find out more...
Many makers today are developing critical positions in response to consumer culture, questioning modes of production through the development of new processes, looking at issues of stewardship and sustainability, as well as exploring collective making and the reworking of everyday objects.
The Journal of Modern Craft addresses all forms of making that self-consciously set themselves apart from mass production, whether in the making of designed objects, artworks, buildings, or other artefacts.
Craft and performance
Caroline Broadhead: craft and performance
Caroline Broadhead has developed a multi-disciplinary practice. She works across the fields of the fine and applied arts and regularly collaborates with choreographers producing installations for live performance. She was awarded the Jerwood Prize for Applied Arts in 1997 and was winner of the Textiles International Open in 2004. Her work is included in numerous public collections internationally. She is Course Director of Jewellery at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design.
Many makers today collaborate in an inter-disciplinary way with fine artists, dancers, choreographers, filmmakers, branding consultants and architects. This approach helps to blur the boundaries between traditional craft, fine art, installation, live performance and other disciplines both within and outside the creative industries. The aim is often to provide an ‘experience' rather than a finished outcome or object. Many of these makers explore the body and our presence within a particular environment, or histories and a sense of place.