Monday, 25 October 2010

Winter is setting in

Winter has truly arrived in our home. The dust is being shaken off our extra thick duvet, Miss Marple (the cat) has taken to only sleeping in areas of the floor where the hot pipes run and favourite dvd boxsets are making their appearance to entertain us on cold nights. Christmas is also creeping in, mainly in the form of various winter gift guides, the John Lewis one particularly tempting! The list of knitted and sewn gifts is getting longer and longer and the likelihood of me finishing them in time is quickly diminishing.

Christmas this year is an important time as it will mark the end of my first semester at uni. The finale of this term will take place at a postgrad research methods conference where I will be addressing the question: Dovecot Studios: Art or Craft? This will later be turned into a 3,000 word essay (pretty miniscule consider the length my final thesis has to be!)

It may seem that I have set myself a pretty big issue to address in a 15 minute presentation but I wanted to give my fellow students an idea of the questions facing the study of tapestry, which are likely to be very different from their own field of study. Although it is not the central question of my thesis, the issue of the art/craft divide will enable me to place my research within a context, and an in-depth knowledge of its various facets will undoubtedly inform my work.

copyright Penguin Books

I have recently been reading Deyan Sudjic's book The Language of Things (Penguin, 2009). The books investigates what it is about design which interests us and the importance of design to different areas of industrial production. It also looks into the way that design has often been seen as an opposite to art: design/art, useful/useless. Of particular interest to me was his chapter on Art which describes how the Museum of Modern Art, New York began collecting so-called design and attempted to display these items in the same as a painting by Leger. His writing brought up many issues which I feel are relevant to the study of tapestry. Are these items fine art or are they craft? Are they useful (acoustically or in their historical use in travelling royal courts) or are they useless? How importance is their material, especially in display materials in public institutions? All of this will provide rich pickings for my conference paper.

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